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The Reverend Dr. Willie James Jennings to Deliver 2018 Convocation Address

August 13, 2018
Rev. Dr. Willie James Jennings

Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary will welcome the Reverend Dr. Willie James Jennings, associate professor systematic theology and Africana studies at Yale Divinity School, as its keynote speaker for the 2018 Academic Convocation on September 6, 2018. Jennings will deliver his convocation address, titled, “Friends of Doubt and Disciples of Hope,” at 11:30 a.m. in the seminary’s Chapel of the Unnamed Faithful. All are welcome to attend.

A systematic theologian teaching in the areas of theology, black church, and Africana studies, as well as post-colonial and race theory, Jennings has authored more than 40 scholarly essays and nearly two-dozen reviews, as well as essays on academic administration and blog posts for Religion Dispatches. Jennings’ book, The Christian Imagination: Theology and the Origins of Race (Yale University Press, 2010), won the American Academy of Religion Award of Excellence in the Study of Religion in the Constructive-Reflective category the year after it appeared and, in 2015, the Grawemeyer Award in Religion, the largest prize for a theological work in North America. Englewood Review of Books called the work a “theological masterpiece.” In addition, Jennings wrote the Belief: A Theological Commentary on the Bible series volume, Acts (Westminster John Knox Press, 2017), which won the Reference Book of the Year Award from The Academy of Parish Clergy. He is currently working on a book on the doctrine of creation, tentatively entitled, Reframing the World.

“We are delighted that Dr. Jennings returns to the Garrett-Evangelical campus this fall. Not only is he a beacon of theological insight, but Dr. Jennings has also been a friend to our students and faculty,” said Garrett-Evangelical President Lallene J. Rector. “We are especially indebted to him for his kindly rendered wisdom about pedagogy in culturally and racially diverse classrooms.”

Prior to his appointment at Yale Divinity School, Jennings was associate professor of theology and black church studies at Duke University Divinity School where he also served as the academic dean of the Divinity School for many years. Jennings is in high demand as a speaker and is widely recognized as a major figure in theological education across North America, serving as a regular workshop leader at pastor conferences and he is a consultant for the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion and for the Association of Theological Schools.

Jennings received his bachelor of arts degree in religion and theological studies from Calvin College, master of divinity degree from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena California, and doctor of philosophy degree from Duke University. He is an ordained Baptist minister and served along with his wife, the Reverend Joanne L. Browne Jennings, as associate ministers at the Mount Level Baptist Church in Durham, North Carolina. For many years, they served together as interim pastors for several Presbyterian and Baptist churches in North Carolina. They are the parents of two wonderful daughters, Njeri and Safiya Jennings.