Above: The peer mentors stop to pose for a photo in front of the Press Administration Building, while taking a walk around Eden’s campus. (From left: J. Samuel Subramanian (UTS), Pamela Ayo Yetunde (UTS), Damayanthi Niles (Eden), Soe, Bo Myung (CTS), Sharon Tan (Eden) and Eleazar Fernandez (UTS))

A grant from Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion made it possible for six faculty of color, from three seminaries, in three states to meet on Sept. 27 and 28 at Eden, for the first of two meetings.

The group, “Leading from the Margins,” started by Dr. Sharon Tan, Acting Dean of the Seminary and Professor of Theological Ethics at Eden, explored the family system model to see how it can help them think through agency, power, and connections.

The group consists of Eden professors Dr. Damayanthi Niles, professor of Constructive Theology and Dr. Tan. As well as Eleazer Fernandez, J. Samuel Subramanian and Pamela Ayo Yetunde professors from United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities and Bo Myung Seo from Chicago Theological Seminary. They are all minority professors from United Church of Christ Seminaries and in the Midwest.

“This Wabash grant is aimed at supporting mid-career minority faculty in leadership training,” Tan said. “It’s a well-known organization that seeks to improve the quality of teaching and learning in theology.”

They do several types of workshops with different types of faculty. Tan found out about the opportunity after being involved in another Wabash workshop, which looked at issues of race and theological education. Last spring, she submitted a grant application and after working to shape what it would look like, received the grant for the 2019-2020 academic year.

“Leading from the margins” was inspired from when Tan first became dean several years ago at United Seminary and realized she needed to learn more about leadership and leading other people in a theological sense.

“I started trying to do some reading in that and there’s a ton a business leadership material out there. I realized that material was written by white people for white people,” Tan said. “Some of the advice didn’t seem to fit and didn’t address some things that I was looking for answers to.”

When this grant opportunity came up, Tan decided to extend the idea to other colleagues to think about how they might be able to add to and talk about theological leadership.

The name, “Leading from the Margins,” came from the reality that minority faculty can feel like they are not at the center when working at a majority white institution.

“They’re on the margins of the dominant culture. There have been books about doing theology from the margins, doing ethics from margins, so the term ‘from the margin’ is not totally unknown,” Tan said.

Leadership from the margins will be an opportunity for those in the group to feel like they are not on the margin, their learning and development as leaders are the purpose, not a byproduct, of the study.

“We talked about the nature of belonging and I think everybody left feeling that they belonged to each other,” Tan said.

Niles said when she got together with the group, she no longer felt like she had to explain her thought process, what she was saying just clicked with the other professors.

“It was very powerful to not be on the sidelines,” she said.

Niles said it was nice that the six of them work in different fields, areas of interest and have connected in so many cool ways.

“We could free think. We had the fun of imagining wildly,” Niles said.

They will meet again, next spring or early summer.

“In between now and the next (in person) meeting there will be Zoom meetings once a month. Doing some reading and talking,” Tan said.

The hope is to keep the group going with an outcome, in the next few years, of an edited volume.

One of the professors in attendance was Eleazar S. Fernandez, a professor at United. He is the most senior of the group that met, and the most famous, Tan said.

“For the last five or six years, he’s also been president of Union Theological Seminary in the Philippines. He doesn’t sleep,” Tan said. “He works in the daytime here (at United) and in the nighttime here, he works for the Philippines, daytime there.”

Tan said that he’s enormously productive and it was an honor to have him there.

“He doesn’t go around telling people what he knows, he asks questions,” Tan said.

“What I wanted from him, and I’ve told him, is a comparison of the power he has as a minority faculty member here (at United), he’s the most senior one but minority in a majority white institution. To being president in the Philippines where he’s not only the most powerful (as president) but also in the majority race and culture. What does he get to do there that he doesn’t get to do here, some insight into comparing those,” Tan said.

“He seemed intrigued by the question, although I’m pretty sure he’s thought about it.”

He didn’t give an answer that weekend.

“I think he wants to figure out more about what he wants to say before he says it.”

Tan said it was a productive and encouraging couple of days.

“I think diversity is a gift,” Tan said. “People who we don’t know, people from other cultures bring gifts. We want those gifts, it makes all of us better people.”

The group enjoying dinner at Tei Too.

Eden Theological Seminary will award honorary degrees at its upcoming May 17th commencement to three outstanding leaders whose accomplishments in St. Louis and around the world embody the values which are fundamental to Eden.

“These dedicated leaders demonstrate unwavering commitment to the church. Their faithful service is changing lives both within their communities and around the world,” said David Greenhaw, president of Eden Theological Seminary.  “We are humbled by their accomplishments and proud to bestow these degrees upon them.”

The 2019 Eden Theological Seminary honorary degree recipients include:

Honorary Doctor of Divinity Degree – Reverend Musa Kipkorir Kapkong Maina of Eldoret, Kenya, Moderator of the Reformed Church of East Africa (RCEA).  Rev. Maina is a 2005 graduate of Eden Seminary, earning a Master’s in Theological Studies (MTS) degree. His education at Eden allowed him to engage the RCEA in progressive ideas that are inclusive of women as preachers and worship leaders.  He has also been a strong and bold leader in his church for the ordination of women. Last July he helped achieve this milestone transformation when, for the first time in RCEA’s history, women were ordained as ministers in the RCEA church.  His efforts, with support from Eden and others, also resulted in the first RCEA woman, Everlyne Biboko, to attend Eden and earn a MTS degree to prepare for ordination in the RCEA church. Rev. Maina attributes this progressive church advancement, in part, to the insight he gained of women in leadership roles in many U.S. churches while studying at Eden.

Honorary Doctor of Divinity Degree – Reverend Philister Tuwei Keter, of Nairobi, Kenya, the first woman ordained in the Reformed Church of East Africa (RCEA).  Her persistence and urging helped make this transformation of that church possible.  Born into a humble background, Rev. Keter has volunteered in her church since high school and then studied divinity at St. Paul’s University in Nairobi at a time when women had no hope for becoming ordained. Saying that gender equity is central to serving God, she is now a voice for the voiceless and vulnerable people in society.  Rev. Keter embodies the energy, passion and determination of all the newly-ordained RCEA women.

Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters – Mrs. Jean Dremstedt, a laywoman from Evansville, Indiana.  Jean is well-known, and many times honored, for her life-long support and commitment to charitable causes. She served Eden as a trustee for twelve years, chairing the Advancement Committee, and has been a strong financial supporter of Eden.  She is a member of Bethlehem United Church of Christ and has served with distinction on the board of the Deaconess Hospital of Evansville and the Retirement Housing Foundation of the United Church of Christ.  In 2005, she received the Samuel D. Press Service Award, named for the seventh president of Eden Theological Seminary, to recognize and honor outstanding service to Eden and its mission.

Honorary Degrees and Awards recognize ordained ministers whom Eden believes are models for ordained ministries connected with the traditions, ministries, ecumenical concerns, and values that have been central to Eden and to the United Church of Christ.  The Honorary Degrees and Awards also recognize laity who have lived out their baptismal ministry through their vocations, through their service to society or community, through their service to the church or through some particular witness that expresses commitment to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Eden’s commencement will be held on May 17, 2019 at 7:30 p.m. at Pilgrim Congregational United Church of Christ, 826 Union Boulevard in St. Louis.  In addition to the honorary degree presentation, Rev. Dr. Ted A. Smith, Associate Professor of Preaching and Ethics at Candler School of Theology – Emory University, will deliver the ceremony’s commencement address.

www.moumethodist.org, COLUMBIA, Mo. – April 9, 2019 – NextGen Ministries announced its intention to plant a new place for new people in Springfield with a focus on the college-age population. Bishop Bob Farr has appointed Rev. Tracey Wolff (Eden M.Div. 2017) to this new post. A recent graduate of Missouri’s Planting Academy, Wolff’s affinity for Springfield, particularly Missouri State, makes her a great fit this ministry.

“Some time ago, NextGen Ministries team identified Springfield as an open mission field for college-age ministry,” said Rev. Ron Watts, NextGen Ministries team chairperson. “We have been patiently awaiting the right person and we are pleased that the Bishop and Cabinet has chosen Tracey for this appointment.”

Wolff’s work will be focused on the college campuses in Springfield, particularly Missouri State University, Drury University and Ozark Technical College. This is the first time the Missouri Conference has launched a conference-funded campus ministry in recent memory. In 2007, following the work of the Pathways task force, the Conference shifted how it funded Wesley Foundations at several state universities and charged local churches with connecting with campuses in their neighborhood.

“At the time, it was the right decision to defund Wesley Foundations as we looked toward a new way of connecting with next generations of Christians,” said Jeff Baker, Director of Next Generation Ministries. “In some places, we’ve seen local churches take seriously a call to connect and disciple young people, but the Conference has struggled in some areas to connect with campuses and college-age persons. With this place for new people, we’re trying something new.”

This won’t be a Wesley Foundation, however. The leadership team is approaching this ministry like many new places for new people – with a period of visioning and the assembling of a launch team. Those will be Wolff’s primary objectives in the first months of her appointment.

Campus life has been formative for Wolff’s career. She walked onto the Missouri State’s women’s basketball team in the mid-1980s as a sophomore before becoming a full scholarship student athlete by her senior year. Following graduation, she spent two years as a graduate coaching assistant for the Lady Bears before leaving for Milwaukee in 1991 to serve as Marquette University’s assistant women’s basketball coach, a post she held for 10 years. After Marquette, she worked as Director of Women’s Basketball with Athletes in Action, the sports ministry of Cru Ministries, formerly known as Campus Crusade for Christ. Her experience working with students helped her realize a call to ministry to that age group that has persisted through the years.

“I want to create a space where college-age persons can ask the questions they want about what it is to be faithful,” said Wolff.

Ozarks District Superintendent Lynn Dyke couldn’t be happier to see the possibilities of connecting with Missouri State University, which has experienced 20 percent growth in enrollment over the past two decades. The Office of Next Generation Ministries will be working with the Ozarks District and Springfield-based local churches to identify the best location for the administrative functions of the ministry hub.

“There are 40,000-plus students at Springfield-based campuses,” said Dyke. “As a denomination, we are not reaching this critical mission field. Launching a new place for new college-age people in the Ozarks District will be important to raising up new missional leaders for the purpose of connecting Christ to the world.”


The Office of Next Generation Ministries is responsible for children and youth discipleship ministries, camping, campus-based ministries, Next Generation Ministries team, Crossroads college-age internships, youth ministry and youth leadership team.

As I approach the end of my three-year journey of earning my Masters of Divinity at Eden Theological Seminary, I have finally had a moment to reflect on the decision I made four years ago that led me to Eden and to a new path for my life.

Four years ago, I had no idea that attending a protest in Ferguson, Missouri, during my undergraduate senior year, would have such a huge influence on my future. While in St. Louis, I had a chance meeting with another protestor, Deborah Krause, who I learned was the Academic Dean of Eden Theological Seminary.  I distinctly remember her fiery and determined spirit.

Following that trip to St. Louis, I met Eden alumnus Rev. Starsky Wilson, and coincidentally also met two other people, who all recommended that I consider seminary and to consider Eden Theological Seminary among others. It felt as if God was calling me to Eden and, although I had never considered seminary before, I took the leap of faith and enrolled in the Master of Divinity program.

As a first-year M.Div. student, my Eden experience stretched and challenged me in a variety of ways. I learned more about church history and theology, but most importantly, how context is essential in shaping both of those subjects. My experience has also helped me to add to my language toolbox to articulate my beliefs and identity, which is constantly forming and reforming, as a Christian and one raised in the black Pentecostal tradition.

My studies at Eden have shored up, challenged and deepened my faith. If your faith holds water, it will stand up to being at Seminary.

We support each other within Eden, and I know we will take that beyond Eden’s doors. Ministry can get lonely and having people to reach out to will be very important.

At Eden I have been exposed to strong, black women preaching social justice along with the gospel. It has been inspiring. The women I admire have doctorates, so I think that is what I want to do next; preaching and working academically toward a PhD.

This has been a journey of ups and downs, and seminary has been the most challenging thing I’ve ever done. I think it will also turn out to be the one of the best things I’ve done. I have been blessed in too many ways to name, and I look forward to what the future will bring to me.

Alexis Tardy
Master of Divinity
Eden Theological Seminary Class of 2019


NPR/February 23, 2019


There’s a debate in the United Methodist Church over whether LGBTQ people can serve as clergy and permit same-sex marriage. Church leaders are meeting in St. Louis beginning today to decide and will vote on the issue. But some worry that it could tear United Methodists apart. St. Louis Public Radio’s Shahla Farzan has the story.

SHAHLA FARZAN, BYLINE: Several dozen people fill the pews at Lafayette Park United Methodist Church in St. Louis.

FARZAN: Among them is Kristen Leslie, an ordained elder in the church. Many of the worshippers here identify as LGBTQ. That’s why Leslie and her husband chose this congregation

KRISTEN LESLIE: Because it was a church that we knew was living in a place of justice just by its very presence of who was in the congregation.

FARZAN: But current rules prohibit clergy in same-sex relationships from actually serving in the United Methodist Church. Pastors also aren’t supposed to officiate at same-sex weddings. But Leslie, who’s a professor at Eden Theological Seminary, has defied that rule. Since the early ’90s, she’s performed at least 25.

LESLIE: We are made in the image of God. And how we love each other, as long as it honors God, who am I to say? Love is love is love is love, as Lin-Manuel Miranda said.

FARZAN: The United Methodists have debated for years whether to make church policies more inclusive for LGBTQ people. It’s largely been a conversation within the U.S. And that’s something that concerns seminary student S. Jewell S. McGhee.

S JEWELL S MCGHEE: I feel like the message that American Christians have given too often is that the rest of the world doesn’t matter as much. And that is a message that is against the message of Christ, as I see it.

FARZAN: The United Methodist Church has more than 12 million members spread across the world. U.S. membership has declined in recent years. But, globally, the church is growing, especially in African nations. And that presents a challenge, says United Methodist Council of Bishops president Ken Carter.

KEN CARTER: In some nations of the world, homosexuality is a taboo subject. Or it’s against the law. And so it’s just a more complex conversation for us.

FARZAN: At the St. Louis conference, more than 860 delegates from across the world will decide whether to lift the ban on LGBTQ clergy and same-sex weddings.

There’s a lot at stake, says Daron Smith, a gay man and lifelong United Methodist.

DARON SMITH: It’s a little nerve-wracking for a group of people you don’t really know to make a decision about you. But I’m hopeful this time. If the decision doesn’t go our way this time, we’ll keep fighting.

MARIE GRIFFITH: They avoided the issue as much as they could for as long as they could because they knew this was going to divide the church somehow.

FARZAN: Mary Griffith is a historian of American religion at Washington University. She says the United Methodists are part of a long line of Protestant denominations that have grappled with this issue, including Lutherans, Presbyterians and Episcopalians. The difference is that Methodists have held together a vast and disparate coalition longer.

GRIFFITH: Some lean very progressive on the issue. Some lean very conservative. And it will be very, very interesting to see if they manage to hold that together this time or if the thing finally blows apart.

FARZAN: Methodists have weathered divides over social justice issues in the past. The church split over slavery during the Civil War and later reunited. And that gave seminary student S. Jewell S. McGhee hope.

MCGHEE: And I have a lot more faith in a denomination that has already been through trauma, that has already said, wow, we have gotten it wrong. So whatever happens, I am glad to be a part of this history.

FARZAN: Even if there is a split within the United Methodist Church, she says there’s always the possibility it will heal. For NPR News, I’m Shahla Farzan in St. Louis.

Feature Photo: Daron Smith, left, and his husband, Chris Finley, right, worship at a Sunday morning service at Lafayette Park United Methodist Church in St. Louis, Mo. Smith, a lifelong United Methodist, said he feels hopeful ahead of a vote on LGBTQ ordination and same-sex weddings in the church.

Photo Credit: Shahla Farzan/St. Louis Public Radio

After nearly a century, German returned to the halls of Eden Theological Seminary last August with the arrival of Dr. Gabriele Metzner, a noted scholar from Germany’s Evangelisches Predigerseminar Lutherstadt Wittenberg. As Metzner taught in the classroom, sang in the choir and broke bread with students and faculty, she reconnected the Eden family with its German roots.

Metzner came to teach an Intensive Focused Learning (IFL) class titled, “Pastoral Identity and Christian Education – a German Perspective.” She made the most of those three months and her Eden experience.

Her overall impression?

“Eden is more oriented to contextual education, with more diversity of student backgrounds, ages and denominations,” Metzner summarizes. “In Germany, it is more academic, more philosophical, more historical. All students come from four regional churches.”

And her students’?

“Dr. Metzner has a great curiosity about learning new things and she wanted to know as much about us as we wanted to know about her,” shares Antona Brent Smith, a third-year Eden student who feels visiting professors such as Metzner are invaluable to her Eden experience. “She connected with students not only by teaching, but by sitting down and learning about our lives. She was very intentional about it.”

Contextual Education Makes Eden Unique

The single biggest difference Metzner observed is that Eden integrates inside-the-classroom academic education and outside-the-classroom field experience, what Eden calls “contextual education,” into a single experience over three years. In Germany, the two are separated into unique phases, requiring seven to ten years to become an ordained pastor.

“In the Wittenberg seminary, the education takes place in two parts,” Metzner explains. “Theology studies at university for at least five years. This is followed by a two-and-a-half year internship in a congregation supervised by an experienced pastor, during which the interns visit Wittenberg nine times for pastoral training.

“Eden’s system of bringing together both parts of education was very interesting for me,” Metzner shares. “Eden showed me how to bring together academic studies with the contextual education in a parish and in the community.”

Because their theological and contextual experiences are inextricably intertwined, Metzner observed that Eden students more frequently apply theological concepts to concrete examples rather than theoretical contemplation. And because Eden students are embedded in the community, the concrete takes on a greater mind space for the student. Metzner was impressed with how this is brought to life in Eden classes on social ethics, black theology and constructive theology compared to “systematic” theology common of seminary programs.

Diversity Enriches the Eden Experience

At Evangelisches Predigerseminar Lutherstadt Wittenberg, seminary students are primarily younger, traditional students coming from four regional churches with the specific intent of becoming pastors. Metzner shares she was surprised at the diversity of Eden students across different backgrounds, denominations, ages and goals. She found it interesting to hear so many different perspectives on theological topics.

“I remember the first Reformation session with Adam Ployd when he asked, ‘What is faith? What is Grace? What is Scripture? The word? Baptism? The Church?’” Metzner recalls. “The answers were so different, every student with his or her own biography, their own ways of faith and of life so different from one another.”

Metzner was also intrigued by Eden’s students who do not seek to become pastors or who are studying non-degree classes, such as the NEXT Steps program for people of faith who are at least 55 years old and looking to transition or combine professional experiences and skills to benefit the world through causes of personal importance. There are no non-degree programs at Evangelisches Predigerseminar Lutherstadt Wittenberg and students attend with the express purpose of congregational ministry rather than alternative paths, such as the non-profit or community leadership goals of many Eden students.

“One thing you have here at Eden Seminary is the opportunity to bring new ideas to the education,” she says. “That’s important to me.”

The Spirit of Eden

When asked what of Eden she’ll carry back with her to Germany, she replied with the words of former Eden professor of theology and preeminent American expert of Old Testament theology, Walter Brueggemann.

“Walter Brueggemann writes in his book that Eden Seminary is not a place; it is a spirit,” Metzner concludes. “I felt it too during my time in Eden.”

While she arrived at Eden a stranger, Metzner now carries home the Eden spirit within her, making her forever a part of the Eden family.

From Carter to Comey, the legacy of “Washington’s Favorite Theologian”  endures.
Christianity Today, Elesha Coffman, May 19, 2017

Nearly 50 years since his death, theologian Reinhold Niebuhr still routinely makes headlines. A high-profile documentary, An American Conscience: The Reinhold Niebuhr Story, debuted earlier this year. Recently deposed FBI director James Comey “almost certainly” used his name for his private Twitter account. Ten years ago, TheAtlantic declared “Everybody Loves Reinhold”; last month, Religion & Politics called him “Washington’s Favorite Theologian.” He commands respect from left (Jimmy Carter, Barack Obama) and right (John McCain, David Brooks). So what’s the attraction?

Here are five aspects of Niebuhr’s work that help explain his enduring relevance.

1. He thought big.

Niebuhr titled his 1938–40 Gifford Lectures (the most illustrious theology lecture series in the world) “The Nature and Destiny of Man.” On page 1 of the published volume 1, he wrote, “Man has always been his own most vexing problem. How shall he think of himself?” By page 2, he was pondering “the admitted evils of human history,” “the question of the value of human life,” and “whether life is worth living.” These are not questions limited to a single church, era, or school of biblical interpretation. The resources Niebuhr brought to bear on them were similarly broad, encompassing Hebrew and Christian Scriptures; ancient, medieval, and modern theology and philosophy; and the social sciences.

Positively, the grand scale of Niebuhr’s work meant that he could engage almost anyone. Who hasn’t wondered about the problem of evil or the value of human life? (Scribner’s was sufficiently convinced of the appeal of The Nature and Destiny of Man to publish a two-volume, mass-market paperback edition in 1963. The Modern Library ranked it one of the top 20 non-fiction books of the 20th century.) On the other hand, big books full of big ideas are prone to divergent interpretation. It makes sense that people from different points on an ideological spectrum could look at Niebuhr and see what they’re looking for while missing what others see in the same work.

2. He acknowledged sin.

The early 1900s saw the rise of strain of liberal theology famously caricatured by Niebuhr’s brother, H. Richard Niebuhr, in the sentence: “A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.” Reinhold joined his brother in disdaining this glib gospel, especially in light of the horrors of WWI and WWII. In earlier work, such as Moral Man and Immoral Society (1932), he held out hope that individuals could choose selflessness and justice motivated by love, but he cautioned that groups of people would always seek their own advantage to the detriment of others. “The larger the group,” he wrote, “the more certainly will it express itself selfishly in the total human community.”

He eventually grew more pessimistic about individuals as well, viewing them as not only prone to do bad things but as indelibly tainted by original sin. In 1954, when asked by This Week magazine to identify the key verse in the Bible, he selected Ephesians 4:32 (“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”) Andrew Finstuen explained in Original Sin and Everyday Protestants, “For Niebuhr, without an acknowledgement of the universality and inescapability of sin, Christianity—and by extension his deeply Christian criticism—had no center of gravity.” Each historical recurrence of man’s inhumanity to man affirms this insight.

3. He prized action.

Niebuhr didn’t always agree with his brother. In 1932, they exchanged articles in The Christian Century on the topic of American intervention against Japanese imperialism and, more broadly, Christian involvement in politics. H. Richard argued for “The Grace of Doing Nothing,” but Reinhold countered, “Must We Do Nothing?” Reinhold became an early, vocal advocate for American entry into WWII, a stance that accelerated a rupture with the pacifist editor of the Century and led him to launch his own magazine, Christianity and Crisis.

The United States continued to pursue activist internationalism after WWII, under both Republican and Democratic administrations, so Niebuhr’s blessing of such actions remained popular. Although Niebuhr never held political office (his 1932 run for Congress, on the Socialist party ticket, failed), he became a political figure, founding Americans for Democratic Action and serving on the Council on Foreign Relations. In this sense, politicians who claim fealty to Niebuhr aren’t so much admiring a prophetic outsider as heaping laurels on a hero of their own tribe.

4. But … irony.

The main thing that prevented Niebuhr from being a court theologian for the American political class was his rich sense of irony, most notably expounded in The Irony of American History (1952). Just as the United States was draping itself in righteousness for an epic battle against godless Communism, Niebuhr warned how easily America’s virtues could become vices, how often the nation declaimed the speck in another’s eye while ignoring the plank in its own, how many times the best-laid plans resulted in disaster.

In a Pew Forum on Niebuhr in 2009, Wilfred M. McClay highlighted a quote from the book, “We take, and must continue to take, morally hazardous actions to preserve our civilization. We must exercise our power. But we ought neither to believe that a nation is capable of perfect disinterestedness in its exercise, nor become complacent about particular degrees of interest and passion which corrupt the justice by which the exercise of power is legitimated.” In other words, Niebuhr said to American leaders, go ahead and throw your weight around, but don’t pretend that your motives are pure, and don’t be shocked if you achieve something less than justice. The first part of that advice has been heeded more often than the latter two.

5. He really did write the Serenity Prayer.

Tracing the authorship of this famous prayer (“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference”) became something of a cottage industry a few years ago, but the best available evidence supports Niebuhr’s authorship. This is relevant to assessing his enduring appeal for a couple of reasons.

One, many, many people—including countless members of Alcoholics Anonymous—know something of Niebuhr’s theology even if they have never heard his name. Two, the prayer is a reminder that Niebuhr was a pastor (Evangelical and Reformed Church) before he was a celebrated theologian and foreign policy expert, and faith was not merely an intellectual exercise for him. He speaks to leaders of the free world as well as individuals trapped in addiction. For all of these reasons, he remains worth wrestling with.

Elesha Coffman is assistant professor of history at Baylor University and author of The Christian Century and the Rise of the Protestant Mainline (Oxford).


Reinhold Niebuhr graduated from Eden Theological Seminary in 1913.