Earl Lectures - History

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Earl Lectures • History

For more than a hundred years, PSR has hosted the Earl Lectures and Leadership Conference, a three-day event that addresses 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 time, but one quality is constant: the Lectures have always featured a uniformly high standard of scholarship.

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 yearly; beginning in 2012, they will be held biennially.

On these pages, you will find information about the upcoming Lectures in 2015, on the topic of "Be|Art|Now" and brief details about some of the past Lectures and Lecturers.

If you would like to keep apprised of upcoming Earl Lectures events and information, please add yourself to our mailing list.

Contact the Earl Lectures office at 510/849-8218 or 800/999-0528, ext. 8218.

Photos on the Earl Lectures pages, unless otherwise indicated, are by Dana Davis Photography, Oakland, CA.

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.

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.

See the schedule, workshops, special events, presenter
bios, and press release from the event.

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

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." 

Conference article  Lectures and panels  Conference program in PDF format  Listen to the audio  Purchase audio CDs

2010: Spiritual but not Religious: Chasing the Divine

Listen to the audio  Purchase audio CDs

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

Listen to the audio

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

conference program book in PDF format  Listen to the audio  purchase audio CDs

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

conference program book in PDF format  Listen to the audio  purchase audio CDs

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

conference program book in PDF format  Listen to the audio  purchase audiocassettes and CDs

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

conference program book in PDF format  Listen to the audio  purchase audio cds

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

conference program book in PDF format   Listen to the audio   purchase audio CDs

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

purchase audio cds

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

purchase audio cds.

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

Audio unfortunately unavailable.

  • 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.