posted September 8, 2009

Lecture on Christianity and Interfaith Dialogue

The second annual address in the World Christian Lecture Series at Hope College will examine pursuing interfaith dialogue from a Christian perspective.

Dr. Samuel Wells, who is dean of Duke University Chapel and research professor of Christian ethics at Duke Divinity School, will present "'Not even in Israel have I found such faith': A Christian Vision for Faith among Other Faiths" on Friday, Sept. 25, at 7:30 p.m. in Dimnent Memorial Chapel.

While in Holland, he will also preach on Sunday, Sept. 27, at 11 a.m. during worship at Third Reformed Church, and during the college's "The Gathering" worship service in Dimnent Memorial Chapel at 8 p.m.

The public is invited to the events.  Admission is free.

The World Christian Lecture Series, which debuted in 2008, has been established to invite recognized Christian thinkers and practitioners who are leaders in their respective disciplines and areas of expertise to join with the Hope and Holland communities in exploring issues, themes and ideas that face Christians in the world.  The annual fall series has been developed with the intention to feature a mix of speakers that can include Christian scholars, artists, preachers, politicians, and industry and church leaders.

The series is coordinated by the campus ministries office at Hope.  Trygve Johnson, who is the Hinga-Boersma Dean of the Chapel at the college, noted that Wells "is an engaging and winsome speaker, and personally one of my favorite preachers."

"As Dean of the Chapel at Duke, Dr. Wells has had extensive opportunity to think about the importance of how Christians engage differences of faith traditions in a global society, while at the same time not resorting to reducing the claims of the Christian faith to the lowest common denominator," Johnson said.  "This lecture will prove to be a provocative evening that will sharpen as well as deepen our own reflection of interfaith conversations at Hope College."

Wells has spoken at Hope before.  In January 2007 he presented the opening keynote address for the college's biennial Veritas Forum, a four-day event that considered the challenges presented by modern-day idolatry.

An ordained priest in the Anglican Church, Wells is the author of several books, including "Improvisation: The Drama of Christian Ethics" and, most recently, "Speaking the Truth: Preaching in a Pluralistic Culture."  He has also written many articles published in academic and popular journals.

He has been dean of Duke University Chapel and research professor of Christian ethics at DukeDivinitySchool since the summer of 2005. His responsibilities include preaching at the majority of the 11 a.m. Sunday services, leading worship, interacting with and praying for all levels of the university - leaders, faculty, administrators, students and staff along with religious life groups and the congregation. His work also entails lifting up the connections between Christian faith and theology and the pressing issues of the day, and making the chapel and the poorest neighborhoods of Durham visible to one another.

Wells was born in Chatham, Ontario, Canada and grew up in England in a village between Bath and Bristol, about 100 miles west of London. He graduated from MertonCollege, Oxford, with an M.A. in modern history, from Edinburgh University with a B.D. in systematic theology, and from DurhamUniversity with a Ph.D. in Christian Ethics. His dissertation was titled "How the Church Performs Jesus' Story."

Before training for ordination, he was a community worker in inner-city Liverpool. From 1991 to 2005 he served in parish ministry in the Church of England. He was assistant curate in Wallsend, North Tyneside and in Cherry Hinton, Cambridge, before being incumbent at St. Elizabeth's North Earlham, Norwich, and then St. Mark's Newnham, Cambridge.

While in Norwich he helped to establish and was for several years vice chair of the North Earlham, Larkman and Marlpit Development Trust, the first organization in the East of England devoted to community-led urban regeneration. He also established a non-profit organization offering disadvantaged children opportunities to discover wonder and joy through creative play. He ran a number of soccer teams and was a regular speaker on local radio.

He is married to Jo Bailey Wells, who is a former dean of ClareCollege, Cambridge and is now director of Anglican Studies at DukeDivinitySchool, and they have two children.

Dimnent Memorial Chapel is located at 277 College Ave., on College Avenue at 12th Street.  Third Reformed Church is located at 111 W. 13th St., on 13th Street at Pine Avenue.