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HPU Currie-Strickland lectures to address Christianity, race in America

jennings for webBROWNWOOD – January 16, 2015 – “Being Christian in Racial America” is the topic for Howard Payne University’s upcoming eighth annual Currie-Strickland Distinguished Lectures in Christian Ethics. The lectures will take place Thursday, February 12, and Friday, February 13, and are free to the public.

The Reverend Dr. Willie James Jennings, associate professor of theology and black church studies at Duke University Divinity School, will serve as this year’s guest speaker.

Thursday’s lecture, titled “The Risk of Being Christian in Racial America: Part One,” will begin at 7:30 p.m. Dr. Jennings will deliver part two of the lecture on Friday beginning at 10 a.m. Both discussions will be held in the Richard and Wanda Jackson Conference Room of HPU’s Paul and Jane Meyer Faith and Life Leadership Center.

Dr. Donnie Auvenshine, dean of HPU’s School of Christian Studies and professor of Christian studies, emphasized the timeliness of Dr. Jennings’ lectures.

“As recent events have so poignantly demonstrated, race relations continues to be a serious issue in America,” said Dr. Auvenshine. “It is essential that Christians learn to work together to improve relations among the people of our country and our world, because all people are created by God and deeply loved by Him.”

Born and raised in Grand Rapids, Mich., Dr. Jennings received his Bachelor of Arts degree in religion and theological studies from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, his Master of Divinity degree from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif.; and his Doctor of Philosophy degree from Duke University in Durham, N.C. Dr. Jennings, a systematic theologian, teaches in the areas of theology, black church and cultural studies, as well as post-colonial and race theory.

The author of numerous articles, Dr. Jennings’s recent work, The Christian Imagination: Theology and the Origins of Race, published by Yale University Press, won the 2011 American Academy of Religion award for best book and is now becoming a standard text read in colleges, seminaries and universities. Dr. Jennings is also the recipient of the 2014 Grawemeyer Award in Religion for his groundbreaking work on race and Christianity.

In addition to being a frequent lecturer at colleges, universities and seminaries, Dr. Jennings is also a regular workshop leader at pastor conferences. He is a consultant for the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion, and for the Association of Theological Schools.

He serves along with his wife, the Reverend Joanne L. Browne Jennings, as an associate minister at the Mount Level Baptist Church in Durham, N.C. For many years, Dr. Jennings and Rev. Joanne Jennings served as interim pastors for several Presbyterian and Baptist churches in North Carolina. The Jennings have two daughters, Njeri and Safiya.

The Currie-Strickland lecture series is made possible through the generosity of Dr. and Mrs. Gary Elliston and was established to honor the life of Dr. David R. Currie, retired executive director of Texas Baptists Committed, and the memory of Phil Strickland, who dedicated nearly 40 years of ministry to the Baptist General Convention of Texas’ Christian Life Commission.

Admission is free but reservations are requested. For reservations or more information, please contact Howard Payne University’s School of Christian Studies by e-mail at or by phone at (325) 649-8403.


Photo cutline: The Reverend Dr. Willie James Jennings will address the topic “Being Christian in Racial America” during HPU’s eighth annual Currie-Strickland lectures.

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