CHAUTAUQUA - Chautauqua Institution is pleased to announce the appointment of the Rev. Dr. Robert M. Franklin Jr. as the new director of its Department of Religion, following the retirement of the Rev. Dr. Joan Brown Campbell at the end of the year.
Franklin is president emeritus and distinguished professor of social ethics at Morehouse College, where he served as the 10th president of the nation's largest private, four-year liberal arts college for men from 2007-12. He has been an active participant in Chautauqua's religious programming since 2001, serving as lecturer, chaplain, theologian-in-residence, adviser to the Institution's Abrahamic program, and as a member of the Institution's board of trustees.
"I am excited and truly grateful for the opportunity to work with Robert Franklin as Chautauqua's new director of the Department of Religion," said Chautauqua President Thomas Becker. "Robert is a genuine scholar and a man of deep and committed faith. That combination is particularly powerful in the context of Chautauqua's work and its ambitions."
Rev. Dr. Robert M. Franklin Jr.
Chautauqua Institution is a community on the shores of Chautauqua Lake in southwestern New York state that comes alive each summer with a unique mix of fine and performing arts, lectures, interfaith worship and programs, and recreational activities. Founded in 1874 as an educational experiment in out-of-school, vacation learning for Sunday School teachers, Chautauqua provides a wide variety of services of worship, interfaith lectures and other programming that express the Institution's Christian heritage as well as its interfaith commitment.
"I am honored to become an official part of the life of Chautauqua and excited about working with Tom Becker, the board and staff to ensure a vibrant future for the Religion Department," Franklin said. "There's no place in the world quite like Chautauqua, and working with the entire community I pledge to do everything I can to project Chautauqua's values, practices and moral vision throughout the country and the global community."
At Chautauqua, Franklin has served as a member of the Religion Department's Abrahamic Advisory Committee; speaker on the Institution's morning and afternoon lecture platforms; chaplain-in-residence; and, in 2005, theologian-in-residence for the nine-week season, as he prepared his book Crisis in the Village: Restoring Hope in African American Communities. Franklin's Chautauqua lectures have examined "America's Unfinished Agenda"-the ongoing work of embracing diversity in the United States and learning from the nation's history-and Martin Luther King Jr.'s expectation that morally serious people work actively to promote economic opportunity with justice to eradicate racism and to practice nonviolence, all working toward the creation of what King called "a beloved community."
Franklin served as a member of Chautauqua Institution's board of trustees from 2008 to 2009.
Franklin will assume his position as director of the Religion Department following the retirement of the Rev. Dr. Joan Brown Campbell at the end of the year. This summer, Franklin will give the 2 p.m. Interfaith Lecture on Wednesday, July 10, as part of a weeklong exploration of "Emancipation: Where Do We Go From Here?" and will preside over the final service of worship and preach in Chautauqua's amphitheater on Sunday, Aug. 25.
"It is with a profound sense of gratitude that I pass the baton of leadership of Chautauqua's department of religion to Robert," said Campbell. "He brings to this important role the heart of a dedicated Christian pastor and a firm commitment to a world where people of every faith, and of no faith, are honored and respected.
"Robert is a scholar, a teacher and a lifelong learner, and is in every way a Chautauquan," she said.
Franklin's continued presence as a distinguished professor at Morehouse College will build upon institutional linkages that enhance both institutions and allow him to remain current with the latest research in religion, science and the humanities, dialogues among faculty, and the interests, habits and priorities of young people.
Ordained in the Church of God in Christ in 1975, Franklin graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Morehouse College in 1975 with a degree in political science and religion. He continued his education at Harvard Divinity School, earning a master of divinity degree in Christian social ethics and pastoral care in 1978, and the University of Chicago, earning a doctorate in ethics and society, and religion and the social sciences in 1985. He also undertook international study at the University of Durham, U.K., as a 1973 English Speaking Union Scholar. His major fields of study include social ethics, psychology and African-American religion.
His pastoral positions have included assistant pastor at St. Paul Church of God in Christ in Chicago and Protestant chaplain at St. Bernard Hospital, also in Chicago.
In 1997, Franklin assumed the presidency of the Interdenominational Theological Center, the graduate theological seminary of the Atlanta University Center consortium where he served until 2002. From 2004 to 2007, he served as Presidential Distinguished Professor of Social Ethics at Emory University where he provided leadership for a university-wide initiative titled "Confronting the Human Condition and the Human Experience" and was a senior fellow at the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at the law school.
Franklin has also served on the faculties of the University of Chicago, Harvard Divinity School, Colgate-Rochester Divinity School and at Emory University's Candler School of Theology, where he gained a national reputation as director of Black Church Studies. He is currently a Visiting Scholar in Residence at Stanford University's Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute.
Franklin is the author of three books: Crisis in the Village: Restoring Hope in African American Communities; Another Day's Journey: Black Churches Confronting the American Crisis; and Liberating Visions: Human Fulfillment and Social Justice in African American Thought. He has co-authored a volume titled From Culture Wars to Common Ground: Religion and the American Family Debate. In 2012, he wrote the foreword to a reprint of King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail."
Franklin is married to Dr. Cheryl Goffney Franklin, an OB-GYN physician who holds degrees from Stanford University, Columbia University School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School. He is the father of three children: Imani R. Franklin, Robert M. Franklin III and Julian M. DeShazier.
For more information about Chautauqua Institution's Department of Religion, visit www.ciweb.org/religion. The 2013 Chautauqua Season begins Saturday, June 22. Over the course of nine weeks, more than 100,000 visitors will participate in programs, classes and community events for all ages-all within the beautiful setting of the historic lakeside village. For more information, visit www.ciweb.org.