Scholar and preacher Jonathan Lee Walton named next president of Princeton Seminary
(RNS) – The Reverend Jonathan Lee Walton, an academic, preacher and administrator who served on the faculties of the Wake Forest and Harvard schools of theology, has been named the next president of Princeton Theological Seminary.
He will be the first black president of the seminary, which was founded in 1812, and will officially begin his new role on January 1, 2023.
Walton, 49, dean of the School of Divinity at Wake Forest University in North Carolina and dean of its chapel since 2019, will succeed President Mr. Craig Barnes, who has led the Princeton Seminary since 2013.
“Theological education is at an inflection point,” Walton said in a statement when announcing the seminar on Friday, October 14. “The church is changing. Society changes. We therefore need clear-headed, faith-informed professionals who can speak of hope, fairness, and healing in all areas of human endeavour.
Walton, whose scholarship has included evangelical Christianity, political culture and mass media, is the author of “Watch This! The Ethics and Aesthetics of Black Televangelism” and “A Love Lens: Reading the Bible in His World for Our World”.
The ordained Baptist minister will return to his alma mater, where he received his doctorate in 2006 and his master’s degree in theology in 2002.
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“Dr. Walton’s deep commitment to scholarship and strong leadership experience positions him perfectly to advance Princeton Seminary’s mission to serve as a vital and engaging center for pastoral education, Christian theology, and leadership in general” , said Michael Fisch, chairman of the board of the seminary, in a statement.
Eddie S. Glaude, a college professor at Princeton University, welcomed the Walton decision.
“He will be a model of excellence for students and faculty, and he will help pave the way for the revitalization of theological education in the 21st century,” Glaude said in a statement. “This is a historic appointment, and I can’t think of anyone better suited for the tasks ahead.”
Earlier this year, the seminary’s board of trustees voted to sever the name of anti-abolitionist and slaveholder Samuel Miller from the school chapel. The action followed a petition and protests by the school’s Black Seminarians’ Association and its allies. It is now known as the Chapelle du Séminaire.
In fall 2019, Princeton Theological Seminary pledged to spend $27 million to address its ties to slavery through scholarships and other initiatives. Since then, the seminary has named its library after Theodore Sedgwick Wright, the seminary’s first African-American graduate.
In a speech in April, Walton expressed his desire for renewal in struggling congregations and denominations.
“Our institutions…whether we’re talking about the black churches, whether we’re talking about the Southern Baptist Convention, whether we’re talking about the Catholic churches, they’re filled with hypocrisy, lies, every form of duplicity,” he said. he declares. a gathering of journalists organized by the Ethics & Public Policy Center’s Faith Angle Forum in April. “They absolutely are. And that is why we still need movements of prophetic revivalism within our faith traditions to hold institutions accountable.