The UTC Department of Philosophy and Religion presents the LeRoy Martin Distinguished Lecturer Series on Christian History and Thought, “Religion in Early America: From the Great Awakening to the Revolution” from Tuesday-Thursday, February 14-16.  All lectures begin at 7 p.m.  They are all free and open to the public.   

Dr. Gerald McDermott, Jordan-Trexler Professor of Religion, Roanoke College, will present “Jonathan Edwards, the Great Awakening, and the Future of Global Christianity” on Tuesday, February 14.

“Jonathan Edwards (1703-58) was a leader and analyst of the revival that helped shape early America.  His experience with the Great Awakening led to an analysis of religious experience that has provided spiritual direction ever since.  This lecture will explain his relationship to the Awakening, outline his theology of discernment that emerged from the Awakening, and discuss his relationship to millennialism and American exceptionalism.  Then it will propose that his larger theological vision is well-suited to the new shape of global Christianity, for it provides bridges between Catholics and Protestants, East and West, charismatics and non-charismatics, and liberals and conservatives.”

Dr. Thomas Kidd, Associate Professor of History, Baylor University, will present “Patrick Henry, the Great Awakening, and the Rise of Religious Liberty in Revolutionary Virginia” on Wednesday, February 15.
In this lecture, Kidd will “consider the great Patriot leader Patrick Henry as a bridge between the Great Awakening and the American Revolution. Henry attended revival meetings of the Great Awakening as a boy, which helped form his personal faith and his dramatic speaking style. Along with fellow Founders such as John Adams and George Washington, Henry believed both in protecting religious liberty, and in continuing direct government support for churches. Henry’s debates with James Madison and Thomas Jefferson over disestablishing Virginia’s state church illuminate the vital importance of faith in the American founding, and the Founders’ disagreements over the ‘separation of church and state.’”

Dr. Catherine Brekus, Associate Professor of the History of Christianity in the Divinity School, The University of Chicago, will present “Sarah Osborn’s World: The Rise of Evangelical Christianity in Early America” on Thursday, February 16.

“What are the historical roots of evangelical Christianity? When and why did the evangelical movement begin, and how can we explain its popularity?  Brekus will answer these questions by recovering the story of an extraordinary woman who belonged to the first generation of evangelical Christians in America. Few people today have ever heard of Sarah Osborn, a schoolteacher who lived in Newport, Rhode Island, during the 1700s, but she was one of the most charismatic female religious leaders of her time. During the 1760s she led a remarkable revival that brought hundreds of people, including large numbers of slaves, to her house each week. Her story offers a fascinating window onto the early history of the evangelical movement, a movement that continues to influence American life today.”

The LeRoy Martin Distinguished Lecturer Series on Christian History and Thought is sponsored by the Maclellan Family Foundation.  For more information, please visit or call 423/425-4334.

Media Relations Contacts: Email Chuck Cantrell or call (423) 425-4363.
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