St. Olaf to host Rev. Lenny Duncan in series of events on Lutheran church identity
St. Olaf College will welcome Rev. Lenny Duncan this spring to speak about his book, Dear Church: A Love Letter from a Black Preacher to the Whitest Denomination in the U.S., in a series of on-campus events.
Presented by the Lutheran Center for Faith, Values, and Community, the Taylor Center for Equity and Inclusion, the Cultural Union for Black Expression (CUBE), and College Ministry, the program will take place on February 18.
Duncan will begin the day by speaking during daily chapel, which begins at 11:10 a.m. He will then facilitate a lunchtime table conversation about religion and LGBTQIA+ experiences as part of the Taylor Center’s Out for Lunch series. He will deliver his keynote address at 7 p.m. in Boe Memorial Chapel, followed by a book signing. His keynote address is free and open to the public, and will be streamed and archived online.
Duncan is a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and until January 2020 has served as pastor of Jehu’s Table, a congregation in Brooklyn, New York. This February, he begins his new call as Mission Developer Pastor at Messiah Lutheran Church in Vancouver, Washington. In the Lutheran community, Duncan challenges the church to examine its complicity in white supremacy, homophobia, transphobia, and other sins, and promotes diversity and justice as tools to revitalize the church.
“The tone of Duncan’s writing blends righteous judgment with passionate love,” says St. Olaf Assistant Professor of Religion Anthony Bateza, who is leading faculty book groups of Dear Church prior to Duncan’s visit to campus. “He cares deeply about the Lutheran tradition that welcomed and continues to nourish him, while he also wants that tradition to be honest about the challenges it faces.”
The tone of Rev. Duncan’s writing blends righteous judgment with passionate love. He cares deeply about the Lutheran tradition that welcomed and continues to nourish him, while he also wants that tradition to be honest about the challenges it faces.Assistant Professor of Religion Anthony Bateza
In Dear Church, Duncan investigates the forms of injustice at work in the church and provides ways to dismantle them. A manifesto as well as a love letter, Dear Church builds on concrete solutions as well as Duncan’s unique personal experiences to offer a better future for the Lutheran church and the wider Christian community.
“I draw a direct line between the church’s lack of diversity and the church’s lack of vitality. The problems the ELCA faces are theological, not sociological. But so are the answers,” Duncan writes in a column recently published in Living Lutheran magazine. “It’s time to stand up, dust ourselves off, and get involved in the defining battle of this generation.”