Synod speakers feature award winning journalists and theologians
Written by Staff Reports January 27, 2009
The UCC General Synod 27 planning team is pleased to announce four nationally-known speakers who will address the denomination June 26-30 at the DeVos Convention Center in downtown Grand Rapids, Mich.
Eugene H. Robinson's commentaries are read and seen by millions across the country. He is assistant managing editor and a columnist for The Washington Post. His syndicated column appears in newspapers nationally and internationally. Robinson has recently appeared on MSNBC as a featured correspondent in the 2008 Presidential election.
In his 28-year career at The Washington Post, Robinson has been city hall reporter, city editor, foreign correspondent in Buenos Aires and London, foreign editor, and assistant managing editor in charge of the paper's award-winning Style section.
Robinson attended the University of Michigan, where during his senior year he was the first black student to be named co-editor-in-chief of the award-winning student newspaper, The Michigan Daily.
He began his journalism career at the San Francisco Chronicle, where he was one of two reporters assigned to cover the trial of kidnapped newspaper heiress Patricia Hearst.
Robinson has authored two books "Coal to Cream: A Black Man's Journey Beyond Color to an Affirmation of Race" in 1999 and "Last Dance in Havana: The Final Days of Fidel and the Start of the New Cuban Revolution" in 2004.
Ray Suarez is an award winning journalist and senior correspondent for "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer" on PBS.
With over 30 years in the broadcast journalism, Suarez is currently a host of the international news and analysis public radio program, "America Abroad," from Public Radio International. Previously, he hosted the National Public Radio program "Talk of the Nation" from 1993-1999.
Suarez is the author of the 1999 book "The Old Neighborhood: What We Lost in the Great Suburban Migration: 1966-1990," and the 2006 book, "The Holy Vote: The Politics of Faith in America."
Suarez was a co-recipient of NPR's 1993-94 and 1994-95 duPont-Columbia Silver Baton Awards. He was honored with the 1996 Ruben Salazar Award from the National Council of La Raza, and the 2005 Distinguished Policy Leadership Award from UCLA's School of Public Policy. The Holy Vote won a 2007 Latino Book Award for Best Religion Book.
Suarez holds a B.A. in African History from New York University and an M.A. in the Social Sciences from the University of Chicago. Suarez is a founding member of the Chicago Association of Hispanic Journalists.
The Rev. Barbara Brown Taylor is a bestselling author, pastoral theologian and popular speaker on topics of spirituality and congregational life. In 1996 Baylor University named Taylor as one of the 12 "most effective" preachers in the English-speaking world.
An Episcopal priest with 15 years of parish ministry, Taylor has taught religion at UCC-related Piedmont College in rural northeast Georgia since 1997 and is an adjunct professor of spirituality at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur.
Her first memoir, "Leaving Church," met with widespread critical acclaim, winning a 2006 Author of the Year award from the Georgia Writers Association. Taylor is the author of twelve books, including "An Altar in the World," to be released in February 2009.
She received a B.A. in religion from Emory University and her M.Div. from Yale Divinity School prior to ordination as an Episcopal priest in 1984.
An at-large editor for The Christian Century and sometime commentator on Georgia Public Radio, Taylor has received multiple awards for her writing.
The Rev. Jim Wallis is a bestselling author, public theologian, speaker, preacher, and international commentator on religion and public life, faith and politics.
Known as the founder and editor of Sojourners Magazine, and of the Washington, D.C.-based Christian community of the same name, Wallis has continually challenged religious American's to make political commitments to social justice issues.
The author of five books, his latest book is "The Great Awakening: Reviving Faith & Politics in a Post–Religious Right America." His previous book, "God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It," was on the New York Times bestseller list for 4 months.
Wallis received his B.A. from Michigan State University. While at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Illinois, he and several other students started a small magazine and community with a Christian commitment to social justice in the early 1970s that ultimately became Sojourners.
Wallis' commentaries have been published in The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and both Time and Newsweek online;. He has recently appeared on Meet the Press, the Daily Show with Jon Stewart and the O'Reilly Factor.
"We are pleased to have such well-known personalities addressing us this summer in Grand Rapids," says Associate General Minister and Synod administrator Edith Guffey. "It is a wonderful opportunity for us to be exposed to ideas and inspiration from many quarters of the church and society."
Stay tuned as the Synod planning team announces more speakers in the coming weeks.