News & Announcements

Bishop William J. Barber II to Deliver 163rd Commencement Address at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary

Rev. Dr. William Barber II

Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary will welcome pastor, professor, organizer, author, and sought-after speaker Bishop William J. Barber II for the seminary’s 163rd Commencement Service, being held online on Friday, May 14, 2021, at 10 a.m. (CDT). Bishop Barber will deliver the commencement address and be awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Divinity.

In addition to Barber’s address, the 163rd Commencement will include two distinguished alum awards presentations and the conferring of degrees upon the Class of 2021. This service will be held online and all are welcome to attend. Registration for the service and additional information about all events being held in honor of the Class of 2021 will be available on the seminary’s website beginning Tuesday, April 20, 2021.

Bishop Barber is the president and senior lecturer of Repairers of the Breach, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival; bishop with The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries; visiting professor at Union Theological Seminary; and the pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church, Disciples of Christ in Goldsboro, North Carolina.

Bishop Barber is also the architect of the Moral Movement, which began with weekly Moral Monday protests at the North Carolina General Assembly in 2013. In 2018, Bishop Barber helped relaunch the Poor People’s Campaign, which was begun by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968, starting with an historic wave of protests in state capitals and in Washington, D.C., calling for a moral agenda and a moral budget to address the five interlocking injustices of systemic racism, systemic poverty, the war economy and militarism, ecological devastation/denial of healthcare, and the false moral narrative of Christian nationalism.

“It is an honor for Garrett-Evangelical to celebrate and recognize the transformative work of Bishop William J. Barber II,” proclaimed Garrett President, Rev. Dr. Javier A. Viera. “His faithfulness, fearlessness, courage, and passion are exemplary and inspire all who know him or hear him to work toward creating a better world. I am delighted that he will be the one to charge members of the Garrett-Evangelical Class of 2021 with being bearers of Christ’s light and love and repairers of the breach.”

Bishop Barber has given keynote addresses at hundreds of national and state conferences, including the 2016 Democratic National Convention. On January 21, 2021, he delivered the homily for the 59th Inaugural Prayer Service for President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. He has also spoken to a wide variety of audiences including national unions, fraternities and sororities, motorcycle organizations, drug dealer redemption conferences, women’s groups, economic policy groups, voting rights advocates, LGBTQ equality and justice groups, environmental and criminal justice groups, small organizing committees of domestic workers, fast food workers, and national gatherings of Christians, Muslims, Jews, and other people of faith.

Barber served as president of the North Carolina NAACP, the largest state conference in the South, from 2006-2017. A former Mel King Fellow at MIT, he is currently Visiting Professor of Public Theology and Activism at Union Theological Seminary and is a Senior Fellow at Auburn Seminary.

He is regularly featured in media outlets such as MSNBC, CNN, New York Times, Washington Post, and The Nation Magazine, among others. Bishop Barber is the 2015 recipient of the Puffin Award and the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Award, a 2018 MacArthur Foundation genius award recipient, and he is one of the 2019 recipients of the North Carolina Award, the state’s highest civilian honor.

A prolific writer, Barber is the author of four books: We Are Called To Be A Movement (Workman Publishing Company, June 9, 2020); Revive Us Again: Vision and Action in Moral Organizing (Beacon Press, December 4, 2018); The Third Reconstruction: Moral Mondays, Fusion Politics, and The Rise of a New Justice Movement (Beacon Press, January 12, 2016); and Forward Together: A Moral Message For The Nation (Chalice Press, October 30, 2014).

Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, a graduate school of theology related to The United Methodist Church, was founded in 1853. Located on the campus of Northwestern University, the seminary serves more than 450 students from various denominations and cultural backgrounds, fostering an atmosphere of ecumenical interaction. Garrett-Evangelical creates bold leaders through master of divinity, master of arts, master of theological studies, doctor of philosophy, and doctor of ministry degrees. Its 4,500 living alumni serve church and society around the world.