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Upcoming Earl Lectures

The New Story of Work: Politics, Spirituality, and Labor
April 15-16, 2016

The New Story of Work will bring together organizers, business and faith leaders, activists, and scholars to explore and strategize around the meaning of work and the significance of labor today.

LeonardAnnie2016Earl Lecture: Annie Leonard, Executive Director, Greenpeace USA

Friday, April 15, 7:00pm
Key note lecture, The New Story of Work
Ignite Institute, Pacific School of Religion

A lifelong environmentalist, Annie Leonard is currently the Executive Director of Greenpeace USA. She has over 25 years experience investigating, organizing and communicating about the environmental and social impacts of all our stuff: where it comes from, what it is made out of, and where it goes after we get rid of it. Her 2007 online film, The Story of Stuff, has been viewed over 40 million times making it the most watched online environmental film to date. In 2010, she authored a book of the same title which takes a deeper dive into the issues in the film.

Earl Lectures History

For more than a hundred years, PSR has hosted the Earl Lectures and Leadership Conference, addressing critical theological, pastoral, and social issues of the day.

Founded in 1901 with a gift from Edwin T. Earl, the purpose of the Lectures was, according to PSR’s Board of Trustees, “to aid in securing…the adequate presentation of Christian truth, by bringing to Berkeley, California…eminent Christian scholars to lecture upon themes calculated to illustrate and disseminate Christian thought, and minister to Christian life…” Over the years, the content of the Lectures has reflected the important theological, political, economical, and social trends of their times, with a uniformly high standard of scholarship and boldness.

Lecturers have been Biblical scholars, educators, historians, authors, activists, church leaders, and scholars of literature, among others; some of the featured Lecturers were well-known within their field but little-known outside of it, while others were household names. Some of the names we recognize today include such international figures as Theodore Roosevelt, Elie Wiesel, Howard Thurman, Maya Angelou, Paul Tillich, Alice Walker, and Robert Reich.

The Lectures have taken different forms over the years: sometimes small gatherings held on the PSR campus, other times large gatherings that filled lecture halls at the University of California. For much of the last century, the Lectures were held annually.

Today, rather than standing alone, the Earl Lectures are incorporated into PSR’s key public events. The E. T. Earl fund continues to support public presentation of excellent scholarship through sponsored lectures throughout the year.

For more information, contact the office of Community & Continuing Education at 510/849-8227 or cce@psr.edu.

Past Earl Lectures

2015 Be|Art|Now

The 112th Earl Lectures and Leadership Conference Be|Art|Now held January 29-31, 2015 brought together activists, artists, and progressive people of faith to experience the intersection of art, spirituality, and social transformation. Participants experienced performances, exhibits, public arts, and worship to explore innovative ways they could integrate art into their vocations and spiritual lives. Keynote speaker and preacher Adriene Thorne, speaker Tim Holmes, and performances by Michael Franti and Jinho “The Piper” Ferreira led members of the conference into deep explorations of art and social justice.

  • Michael Franti {musician, filmmaker}
  • Adriene Thorne {pastor, dancer}
  • Jinho “The Piper” Ferreira {playwright, musician, police officer}
  • Tim Holmes {sculptor, philosopher}
  • Rossitza Schroeder {assistant professor of arts and religion, PSR}

2013 We Are Family: Real Families, Real Faith in the Real World

The 111th Earl Lectures and Leadership Conference, We Are Family: Real Families, Real Faith, in the Real World held January 29-31, 2013, brought together scholars and faith community leaders to explore what family means in a modern historical context within U.S. society.

In the company of Dr. Margaret A. Farley, and the Rev. Dr. Miguel A. De La Torre and inspired by the preaching of the Rev. Barbara J. Essex, participants explored questions about who decides what makes a family and how the Divine is reflected in the stages and activities of family life.

  • Dr. Margaret A. Farley, R.S.M.
  • Stephanie Coontz
  • Rev. Dr. Miguel A. De La Torre
  • Rev. Barbara J. Essex

2011: Our Daily Bread: Faith, Work, and the Economy

Audio available here.

The 110th Earl Lectures and Leadership Conference, Our Daily Bread: Faith, Work, and the Economy, brought together religious and secular leaders to teach, preach, and strategize about issues of economic justice.  Joined by Robert Reich, Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, Kim Bobo, Rev. Alexia Salvatierra, Bishop Yvette Flunder, and many more renowned speakers and presenters, members of the PSR community came together to strive to live out the Gospel message to care for “the least of these.”

  • Robert Reich
  • Shaykh Hamza Yusuf
  • Kim Bobo
  • Rev. Alexia Salvatierra
  • Bishop Yvette Flunder

2010: Spiritual but not Religious: Chasing the Divine

Audio available here.

Earl Lectures 2010 explored the increasingly popular phrase spiritual, but not religious. What is the essential difference between spiritual and religious? What can religious institutions learn from those who claim to be one and not the other? And what kind of critique can those who call themselves “religious” be asking about the description “spiritual, but not religious“?

  • Matthew Fox
  • Scotty McLennan
  • Melissa Wilcox
  • Donna Allen
  • Linda Tillery and the Cultural Heritage Choir

2009: Behold… a New Thing: Emerging Expressions of Faithfulness

Audio available here.

There is something new emerging inside, alongside, and even outside the familiar institutions and expressions of Christianity in North America. What will this “new thing” be, and how will it affect the traditional church? The 2009 Earl Lectures provided an opportunity to experience and reflect critically on new forms of spirituality and worship associated with the emerging church.

The 108th Earl Lectures and Leadership Conference was held in the Ecumenical Center of Berkeley, the former University Christian Church, and marked the first time the lectures had been held on Holy Hill since 1949.  Speakers guided explorations of popular culture, generational change, and religious innovation in North America.

  • Jay Bakker
  • Bruce Reyes-Chow
  • Karen Ward
  • Gerardo Marti
  • Boyung Lee

2008: O for a World: Faith, Community, and Sustainability

Audio available here.

In the 21st century, we face not only the degradation of the environment, but also a growing disparity between those who have access to resources and those who are deprived. Now is the time for progressive people of faith to address not only the ecological but also the moral and social burdens weighing down the generations. What can we do to build just and sustainable communities? How can people of faith work for justice and help sustain lives savaged by hunger and fear?

With its focus on “Faith, Community, and Sustainability,” the 2008 Earl Lectures and Pastoral Conference addressed these vital questions. Preachers, lecturers, and workshop leaders helped connect the liberal Protestant concern for social justice with the need for environmental justice.

  • Karen Baker-Fletcher
  • Daniel A. Buford
  • Clarence L. Johnson
  • Ken Medema
  • Chandra Muzaffar
  • Mayra Rivera Rivera
  • Mary E. Westfall

2007: All the Rivers of Paradise: Christian Responsibility in an Interfaith World

Audio available here.

In Genesis, a single, unnamed river flows out of Eden and branches into tributaries that run to different parts of the world, providing us with a metaphor for the world’s religions and reminding us that Americans today live in an interfaith world in ways never imagined in our history. “We the people” now include Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Zoroastrians, and new varieties of Christians and Jews, while the original people of this land still hold fast to their own sense of the sacred. Members of all the world’s religions now live in the same neighborhoods, profoundly affecting schools, markets, and the halls of government. And all the while the world bristles with the weapons and wars of religious intolerance.

The 2007 Earl Lectures grappled with these momentous questions, challenging and informing our thinking about the place of Christianity among the world’s religions and changing our practice as we become profoundly involved with people of other faiths.

  • Mahmoud Mustafa Ayoub
  • Bernice Powell Jackson
  • Tat-siong Benny Liew
  • Choan-Seng (C.S.) Song

2006: Gathering the Beloved Community: Voices of Faith for the Public Square

Audio available here.

What is the meaning and potential of progressive Christianity? What streams of theology and practice does it bring together? How can progressive Christian movements attain greater visibility in national public life? Who speaks for progressive Christianity?

  • James Forbes, senior minister at the Riverside Church in New York City
  • Diane Winston, Knight Chair in Media and Religion at the University of Southern California
  • Hubert Locke, former trustee and acting president of PSR and dean emeritus of the Graduate School of Public Affairs at the University of Washington
  • Delwin Brown, dean emeritus of PSR
  • Kwok Pui Lan, William F. Cole Professor of Christian Theology and Spirituality at Episcopal Divinity School

2005: Sex and the City of God: Intimacy and Wholeness

Audio available here.

The 2005 Earl Lectures on the theme “Sex and the City of God” attracted one of the largest audiences in the event’s 104-year history.  Discussion focused on the dilemmas in the definition of and right to marriage and on clergy and sexuality during two panel discussions.  In addition, the 31 workshops of the Pastoral Conference enabled participants to delve deeper into specific issues, such as sex in the Bible, queer theology, pastoral care responses to sex, coming out, youth ministry and sexuality, sexual ethics, issues in Asian/Pacific Islander and African American families and congregations, and HIV/AIDS ministry.

  • Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire and the first openly gay Episcopal bishop
  • Eric H.F. Law, missioner for congregational development of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles and author of The Wolf Shall Dwell with the Lamb: A Spirituality for Leadership in a Multicultural Community
  • Christine E. Gudorf, professor at Florida International University and author of Body, Sex, and Pleasure: Reconstructing Christian Sexual Ethics
  • Douglass Fitch, pastor of Glide Memorial United Methodist Church

2004: We Are Called: Vocation in a Swiftly Changing World

Audio available here.

  • Gary Dorrien, Episcopal priest, Parfet Distinguished Professor and Dean of the Stetson Chapel at Kalamazoo College in Michigan
  • Vincent G. Harding, Professor of Religion and Social Transformation at Iliff School of Theology in Denver, Colorado and former director of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Center in Atlanta, Georgia
  • Karen Lebacqz, Robert Gordon Sproul Professor of Theological Ethics at PSR and United Church of Christ minister
  • Ann M. Svennungsen, a Lutheran pastor and newly elected President of the Fund for Theological Education
  • Mary Donovan Turner, PSR Carl Patton Associate Professor of Preaching and a minister of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

This year’s event featured a special celebration honoring Earl Lecturer and PSR ethics professor Karen Lebacqz’s world-renowned scholarship and her many years of service at PSR. She will be retiring from her teaching duties at the school in summer 2004.

2003: For the Living of These Days: Theology as a Public Resource

Audio available here.

Inspired by the life and ministry of the late PSR Professor Robert McAfee Brown (1920–2001), the three-day event explored ways that faith communities can take a greater leadership role in shaping public discourse in a troubled world.

  • Gustavo Gutiérrez, renowned Latin American liberation theologian
  • Nancy Ammerman, sociologist of religion at Hartford Seminary
  • Gary Dorrien, theologian and chaplain at Kalamazoo College
  • Kah-Jin Jeffrey Kuan, PSR Associate Professor
  • Thomas Hoyt, Bishop of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church and President of the National Council of Churches.
  • Sydney Brown, Director of the Northern California Interfaith Council on Economic and Environmental Justice
  • Daniel Ellsberg, best known for his release of the Pentagon Papers
  • John Fife, Presbyterian minister and one of the founders of the US Sanctuary Movement
  • C. Welton Gaddy, Executive Director of The Interfaith Alliance
  • Leontine T.C. Kelly, retired United Methodist Bishop
  • Richard Land, President of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission
  • Hubert Locke, Professor Emeritus at the University of Washington Graduate School of Public Affairs

2002: Image to Insight: The Power of Film in Faith and Culture

Audio available here.

Lectures, workshops and public conversations with national leaders in film and television, artists who are renewing worship through the use of multi-media, and people of faith in the film industry.

  • Michael Morris, Professor of Religion and Arts at the Dominican School of Theology and Philosophy in Berkeley
  • Edward McNulty, a Presbyterian minister and editor of Visual Parables
  • Michael Rhodes, Emmy-award winning director of the feature films Romero, and Entertaining Angels: The Dorothy Day Story
  • Bruce Joel Rubin, Oscar winning writer
  • Linda Seger, screenwriter
  • Ron Shelton, director of Bull Durham and several other major films
  • Terry Sweeney, Senior Vice-President of Paulist Productions
  • Judy Fentress Williams, Professor of Hebrew Studies at Hartford Seminary
  • Michael G. Bausch, adjunct faculty member in technology and ministry at Dubuque Theological Seminary
  • Yvette Flunder, pastor of City of Refuge UCC in San Francisco
  • Nancy L. Wilson, Vice Moderator of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches.

2001: Into All the World: Christian Mission in a Pluralistic Age

Audio available here.

  • Abuna Elias Chacour
  • Purity Nomthandazo Malinga
  • Sharon Welch

2000: Conflict and Reconciliation: New Models for Hope

  • Robin Meyers
  • Richard Rodriguez
  • Mary A. Tolbert
  • Michael Lerner
  • William W. Rankin
  • Anthony B. Robinson

1999: Building Healthy Communities: Partners in Faith and Wellness

Audio available here.

  • Nancy Eiesland
  • Gary Gunderson
  • A. Cecil Williams

1998: Cross-Currents in Faith and Culture

Audio available here.

  • Robert M. Berdahl
  • Michael Eric Dyson
  • Miriam Therese Winter

1997: Equipping Faith Communities for a Changing World

Audio available here.

  • Kathleen Norris
  • Frederick J. Streets
  • Barbara Wheeler

1996: Religion and Science

  • Ian G. Barbour
  • Rita Nakashima Brock
  • William F. May

1995: Jesus Beyond the Bible: A Cultural Debate

  • John Dominic Crossan
  • Chung Hyun Khung
  • Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr.

1994: Body, Sexuality and Spirituality: Sexual Christians and the Church’s Renewal

  • William Sloan Coffin
  • Margaret R. Miles
  • James B. Nelson

1993: Creeds and Ordination: Help or Hindrance?

  • Brian A. Gerrish
  • Glenda Hope
  • Cynthia Rembert-James
  • Mariellen Sawada
  • Marjorie H. Suchocki

1992: Spirituality

  • Virgil P. Elizondo
  • Parker J. Palmer
  • Phyllis Trible

1991: Preaching, Healing and Teaching

  • Sharon Daloz Parks
  • Craig Dykstra
  • Roy I. Sano

1990: Preaching

  • Fred. B. Craddock
  • Justo L. Gonzalez
  • Catherine Gunsalus Gonzalez
  • Prathia Hall Wynn

1989: Theological Truths from the Biblical Wilderness

  • Walter Brueggemann
  • Elizabeth Schussler Fiorenza
  • J. Alfred Smith, Sr.

1950s: E.T. Earl Lectures – 1950s: Graduate Theological Union Digital Library

Earl Lectures conference programs and audio recordings from the 1950s available here.

1902-1985 Earl Lecturers

A list of all Earl Lecturers from the beginning of the Earl Lectures in 1902 through 1985 is available here.