15 Questions with Jonathan L. Walton

Courtesy of Johnathan Walton

Reverend Jonathan L. Walton, Pusey Minister in Memorial Church and Plummer Professor of Christian Morals, sits in his crimson-walled office, wearing a black suit and royal purple shirt. Walton was appointed in April 2012 to the position previously held by the late Reverend Peter J. Gomes. Tributes to his sports fanaticism decorate his office: A basketball signed by Tommy Amaker sits atop one of the bookshelves.  FM munched on some peanut M&M’s with Walton, and talked about Memorial Church air conditioners, tailgates at Sparks House and his 3-month-old son Baldwin.

1. Fifteen Minutes: Again, congratulations on the new position! A few months into your duties as Pusey Minister, do you finally feel that you have settled into this new role?

Jonathan L. Walton: I’m learning that this is a marathon, not a sprint, and I’m trying to keep that in mind. I’m having a wonderful time, and the people and the community have been so supportive. And I think that’s made all the difference.

2. FM: What psalm do you think would be most appropriate to describe your current state of mind as Minister?

JLW: “Psalm 121.” It’s the psalm that says “I would look to the hills from whence cometh my help. All of my help comes from the Lord.”

3. FM: What is its significance for you?

JLW: My prayer life has been enriched by being in this position. I go to bed every night just thankful for all that I’ve been given. So I’ve really been looking to the Lord both for sustenance and in appreciation.

4. FM: Surely there have been some surprises along the way—what have you encountered that you didn’t expect when you accepted the position?

JLW: I’ve been surprised by how busy everyone is at this University, waking up every day and looking at my calendar and seeing that I’m running from meeting to meeting. I thought I was busy before as a member of the faculty, and I thought I was busy if I couldn’t get three hours of reading in or two hours of writing. Now if I have 15 minutes to take a break, that would be a surprise.

5. FM: With such little time on your hands, what do you do for fun?

JLW: I’m an avid sports fan, and I’m an avid Harvard fan. For the past couple of years here, I’ve been a season ticket holder for the football games, the basketball games, and the women’s volleyball games. I’m a huge women’s volleyball fan here at Harvard. And so that’s what I do. Every Saturday of home games, you’ll find me over at the stadium cheering on the Crimson. You’ll find me Sunday afternoons sitting in front of the TV cheering for the Atlanta Falcons.

6. FM: Is that something that you and your family do together?

JLW: We’re all huge sports fans: Cecily, my wife, the twins, and even little Baldwin—my baby three-month-old—he has a little Harvard t-shirt. Now that we’re getting settled, in the next few weeks—for the football games and leading up to basketball—we’re going to start tailgating at Sparks House.

7. FM: Sounds like a good time. I imagine that you must be a very proud father of your new little one.

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