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Harvard Announces Search for Next Minister of Memorial Church

Memorial Church
Memorial Church in Harvard Yard.

University President Lawrence S. Bacow announced the start of the search for the next Minister of the Memorial Church in an email to Harvard affiliates Thursday.

Jonathan L. Walton — who held the position from 2012 to 2019 — announced his departure in April in order to serve as Dean of Wake Forest University School of Divinity. Harvard Divinity School Professor Stephanie A. Paulsell, who is currently serving as interim minister of Memorial Church, assumed her post in August and will continue to serve while the University searches for a permanent replacement.

“I am deeply committed to finding a successor who can guide the church through the intricacies of today’s social and academic climate while furthering its mission of scholarship and service,” Bacow wrote in the email.

In his email, Bacow, who is the chair of the search committee for the next minister, announced the group’s other members. The “cross-sectional” committee includes professors and staff at the University, chaplains from multiple faith backgrounds, church congregants, and a student at the College.

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Paulsell, who is also on the search committee, wrote in an email that she is “excited” for the search for a new minister.

“I'm hoping we find someone eager to engage the diversity of religious life at Harvard and to work creatively at the intersection of the church, the world, and the university,” Paulsell wrote. “I'm hoping for a minister who draws us more deeply into the life of the world, helps us feel the claim of the lives of others on our own, and invites us to explore the relationship between our intellectual and spiritual lives.”

Bacow also invited Harvard affiliates to provide input on the search regarding their thoughts on the future of the church and “essential qualities” in a new minister.

“The mission of Memorial Church is rooted in scholarship and service, and as part of a large interfaith network requires a leader who can balance tradition and innovation,” Bacow wrote.

Other members of the search committee include Harvard Muslim Chaplain Khalil Abdur-Rashid, men’s basketball coach Tommy Amaker, Harvard School of Public Health Director of the Senior Leadership Fellows Program Eric R. Andersen, Professor Catherine A. Brekus ’85, Professor Cornell William Brooks, Reverend John H. Finley IV ’92, Memorial Church Student Advisory Board Member Alden Fossett ’21, Dean of the Faculty of Divinity David N. Hempton, Senior Vice Provost for Faculty Development and Diversity Judith D. Singer ’77, and Hillel Executive Director Jonah C. Steinberg.

Correction: Nov. 23, 2019

A previous version of this article misspelled Eric R. Andersen's name.

—Staff writer Camille G. Caldera can be reached at camille.caldera@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @camille_caldera.

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