Lectures in Religion

Each year, the Department of Religion hosts a number of events, including the Lutheran Studies Conference and the David and Marilyn Knutson Lecture.

The 2014 Lutheran Studies Conference

While the Lutheran movement began in Germany and then spread quickly to Scandinavia during the sixteenth century, Lutheran schools were established throughout most of the world by the end of the nineteenth century thus creating a global educational presence. Through its relationship with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Lutheran World Federation, PLU is connected to an international consortium of institutes, schools, colleges, universities, seminaries, and study centers in which education for leadership, service, and care for others and the earth shapes a common life and mission. Lutheran Studies at PLU welcomes students, faculty, staff, and alumni into this global network, into the significant dialogue between cultures as we engage the pressing economic, political, and social issues of the new millennium.

PLU has been a lively center for the study of Lutheran higher education and the Lutheran intellectual tradition since its beginnings in 1890. Distinguished lecturers, undergraduate courses in history, music, scripture, theology, and the visual arts, study away classes in Germany, Namibia, and Norway, campus ministry workshops, faith and reason dialogues, faculty publications and public presentations, musical performances, seminars on vocation, summer theological institutes, and an excellent collection of Lutheran works in the Mortvedt library – all these mark PLU as a place where the study of this reforming movement continues to flourish.

The Lutheran Studies Conference is held each September. In September 2014, the focus was Justice in Society: Lutheran Sources of Social Change. Participants considered the question: How might an educational tradition that questions the status quo, provides liberating study, and promotes health and wholeness for the earth support the university’s commitment to a just and peaceful society? A broad range of topics were considered, including: the origins of the social justice tradition, the call to resist structural evil, the music of social justice, food justice, the vocation of justice-making, and contemporary Lutheran commitments to economic and environmental justice.

(PLU Photo/John Froschauer)

The David and Marilyn Knutson Lecture

The David and Marilyn Knutson Lectureship was established in memory of David Knutson and in honor of Marilyn Knutson.  Both are alumni of PLU, where David was also a longtime member of the religion faculty. Marilyn and David pursued the vocation of teaching in the late 1950s, Marilyn working with young children and David working with college students.  In 1969, David was appointed to PLU’s religion faculty and Marilyn began teaching in Tacoma’s public schools.

Marilyn’s expertise in early childhood development and David’s understanding of the questions asked by young adults enabled them to create learning environments that engaged the whole person and drew on the best instincts of their students.  Retiring from active teaching in the 1990s, David and Marilyn exemplified a genuine interest in their students and how the privilege of education might be brought to the service of others.

This lectureship brings to campus nationally recognized scholars who creatively work within the historical, scriptural, and theological sources of a living faith tradition, bringing those sources into dialogue with contemporary questions and challenges.  As an annual event sponsored by the Department of Religion, the lectureship serves as a lasting testimony to the intellectual gifts and generosity of spirit so admirably expressed in the lives and teaching of David and Marilyn Knutson.

In October 2014, the Knutson Lecture Scholar was the Rev. Dr. Monica A. Coleman.  A scholar and activist, the Rev. Dr. Coleman is committed to connecting faith and social justice. Dr. Coleman.  Her work includes: Not Alone: Reflections on Faith and DepressionThe Dinah Project: a Handbook for Congregational Response to Sexual Violence and Making a Way Out of No Way: a Womanist Theology.  Her lecture was entitled “You Can Have It All: Theorizing Transreligious Spirituality from the Field of Black Studies.”

(PLU Photo/John Froschauer)