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Walter B. and Kay W. Shurden Lectures on Religious Liberty and Separation of Church and State E-mail

2009 Shurden Lectures group photo

In 2004, Dr. Walter B. Shurden and Dr. Kay W. Shurden of Macon, Georgia, made a gift to the BJC to establish an annual lectureship on the issues of religious liberty and the separation of church and state. The lecturers, selected by the executive director of the BJC, may be academicians, politicians, ministers, church historians, ethicists or activists. Above all, the Shurden Lecturer is someone who can inspire and call others to an ardent commitment to religious freedom and the separation of church and state. Designed to enhance the ministry and programs of the Baptist Joint Committee, the lectures are held at Mercer University every three years and at another seminary, college or university the other years. Past lecturers include Rabbi David Saperstein, Dr. James M. Dunn, Dr. Charles G. Adams, and Dr. Randall Balmer. For more on the genesis of the Shurden Lectures, read Brent Walker's April 2013 column.

A nationally noted church historian, Dr. Walter B. Shurden is the founding executive director of the Center for Baptist Studies and a minister at large for Mercer University. Shurden served at Mercer for almost 25 years as Callaway Professor of Christianity in the Roberts Department of Christianity in the College of Liberal Arts. During 18 of those years, he served as Chair of the Roberts Department of Christianity.  Dr. Kay W. Shurden, a retired professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Mercer University School of Medicine, is a noted author and maintains a practice in counseling and supervision.

In 2015, the lectures will return to Mercer University.

Past Lectures

April 1-2, 2014
Author Michael I. Meyerson delivered the 2014 Shurden Lectures on the campus of Baylor University in Waco, Texas. A recap will be posted in the coming weeks.

April 9-10, 2013
Lecturer: Baptist Joint Committee Executive Director Brent Walker
Location: Stetson University, DeLand, Fla.

Read about the 2013 Shurden Lectures online.

Watch lecture #1 or listen to the podcast: First Principles: God-given, but government protected
Watch lecture #2 or listen to the podcast: First Freedoms: Accommodate religion, but don't advance it
Watch lecture #3 or listen to the podcast: Religion and Politics: How did we do in 2012?

April 17-18, 2012
Lecturer: Dr. Franklin T. Lambert, professor of history at Purdue University and author of several books, including The Founding Fathers and the Place of Religion in America and Religion in American Politics: A Short History.
Location: Mercer University, Macon, Ga.

Click here to read about the 2012 Shurden Lectures.

Watch or listen to lecture #1: America Conceived as a Christian Nation?: The Separation of Good and Bad History
Watch or listen to lecture #2: A Secular/Sacred Alliance in the Fight for Religious Liberty
Watch or listen to lecture #3: Constituting the Separation of Church and State

April 4-5, 2011
Lecturer: Melissa Rogers, the director of Wake Forest University Divinity School's Center for Religion and Public Affairs and a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution
Location: Georgetown College, Georgetown, Ky.

Click here
to read about the 2011 Shurden Lectures.

Watch or listen to lecture #1: Religious Expression in American Public Life
Watch or listen to lecture #2: An American and Christian case for defending Muslims' free exercise rights
Watch or listen to lecture #3: Faith-based partnerships under Presidents Bush and Obama

April 27-28, 2010
Lecturer: Dr. Martin E. Marty, former professor of religious history at the University of Chicago and author of more than 50 books
Location: Samford University, Birmingham, Ala.

Watch or listen to lecture #1: On Not Privileging the Privileging of Religion: A clue from Montesquieu
Watch or listen to lecture #2: On the Difference Indifference Can Make: A clue from Franklin
Watch or listen to lecture #3: On Tracing Lines, Not Building Walls: A clue from Madison

April 14-15, 2009
Lecturer: Dr. Randall Balmer, professor of religious history at Barnard College
Location: Mercer University, Macon, Ga.

Watch lecture #1: So Help Me God: Religion and the Presidency since John F. Kennedy
Watch lecture #2: Where Have All the Baptists Gone: The Betrayal of an American Institution
Watch lecture #3: Keep the Faith: Reclaiming Christianity from the Religious Right

April 14-15, 2008
Lecturer: Dr. Charles G. Adams, pastor of Hartford Memorial Baptist Church in Detroit, Mich., and one of the nation’s most prominent ministers
Location: Wake Forest University Divinity School, Winston-Salem, N.C.

Lecture #1: Sermon as Song
Lecture #2: Preserve Religious Liberty
Lecture #3: All Things Are Yours

February 26-27, 2007
Lecturer: Dr. James M. Dunn, Professor of Christianity and Public Policy at Wake Forest Divinity School in Winston-Salem, N.C., and former executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty
Location: Carson-Newman College, Jefferson City, Tenn.

Lecture #1: Challenging Religion: Ours is… We are…
Lecture #2: Response Able and Free
Lecture #3: The Prophethood of All Believers

April 4-5, 2006
Lecturer: Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religion Action Center of Reform Judaism
Location: Mercer University, Macon, Ga.

Lecture #1: The Framers, the Justices and Us: An Overview of Changing Church-State Relations in American Life
Lecture #2: The Use and Abuse of Religion in American Political and Public Life: Elections, Ten Commandments and Intelligent Design
Lecture #3: Separation of Church and State in Israel: Insight from Another Democracy

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