Wake Forest Divinity School Dean to Preach October 10

The Rev. Dr. Jonathan Lee Walton, dean of Wake Forest University’s School of Divinity, will preach at our 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. worship services on October 10.

He was invited by First Presbyterian Church’s Race Unification Committee (RUC), with valuable help from Pastor Nancy.

Walton has served as dean of the School of Divinity, the holder of the Presidential Chair in Religion and Society, and the Dean of Wait Chapel at Wake Forest in Winston-Salem since 2019.

He grew up in Atlanta and earned a bachelor’s degree at Morehouse, a Historically Black College in that city, in 1996, the same year he was licensed to preach. He then earned a master’s in divinity degree and a Ph.D from Princeton University Theological Seminary, on whose board of trustees he now serves. As a Princeton student, he served as pastor of a Presbyterian church in nearby Newark, New Jersey.

In 2006, he became an assistant professor of religious studies at the University of California. In 2010, he was hired as an assistant professor of African American religions in the Divinity School at Harvard University, where in 2012 he became Plummer Professor of Christian Morals and Pusey Minister in Harvard’s Memorial Church.

Walton, a social ethicist, is the author of “Watch This! The Ethics and Aesthetics of Black Televangelism” (NYU Press, 2009). His second book, “A Lens of Love: Reading the Bible in Its World for Our World” (Westminster John Knox Press, 2018), explores the Bible from the perspective of the most vulnerable and violated characters toward developing a Christian social ethic of radical inclusion and human affirmation.

He sometimes quotes longtime Morehouse College President Benjamin Elijah Mays on the concept of “One Love,” arguing that loving God and loving one’s neighbor are really the same love.

He has been an outspoken advocate for civil rights and social justice and is often quoted as an expert in documentaries about religion and race and by national and international news media.

Among other activities in the Triad in the past 15 months, he has met and shared ideas with Salem Presbytery’s Peace and Justice Task Force; served as keynote speaker for High Point University’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Worship Service; and interviewed Isabel Wilkerson, author of the book “Caste” on American racism, on Wake Forest’s Face to Face Speaker Forum.

He is married to Cecily Cline Walton, a children’s book author, with whom he has three children.