Civil rights leader John M. Perkins to deliver Oct. 27 lecture at Southern Seminary

Communications Staff — October 24, 2014

John M. Perkins
John M. Perkins

John M. Perkins, an evangelical civil rights leader on issues of racial reconciliation and community development, will deliver the Julius Brown Gay Lecture on Christian Ethics at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Oct. 27.

“For reconciliation to take place, we must create an environment that is worshipful and where God’s Word can clearly be heard,” said Perkins, 84, in a recent interview with Southern Seminary. “The gospel is only the gospel when the totality of the redemption is heard, when we proclaim the depths of God’s love and the longing of his people for change.”

Perkins will lecture on “Why We Can’t Wait: The Urgency of the Now” at 10 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 27. The lecture will be held in Legacy 303 at the seminary’s Legacy Hotel & Conference Center. The first 50 students in attendance will receive a free copy of Perkins’ book, Let Justice Roll Down.

Following the lecture at 11:30 a.m., Perkins will join in a panel discussion on racial reconciliation with T. Vaughn Walker, WMU Professor of Christian Ministries and professor of black church studies, Jarvis Williams, associate professor of New Testament interpretation, and Curtis Woods, associate executive director for convention relations at the Kentucky Baptist Convention. A free Chick-fil-A lunch will be provided to those who attend the panel discussion.

“The term hero is often overused, but it applies most appropriately to Dr. Perkins,” said Matthew J. Hall, vice president for academic services at Southern Seminary, who will moderate the discussion. “I know of no one in the evangelical world who has put more of himself on the line for the sake of justice, racial reconciliation, and the gospel of Jesus Christ. For over half a century, he has shaped the entire evangelical movement with his courageous and prophetic leadership. Now, more than ever, we need his voice to ring loud and clear. I’m so thankful that we will get to hear him speak in Louisville to our Southern Seminary community.”

Perkins, a Mississippi native, fled to California as a teenager when his brother was murdered by a town marshal. After he professed faith in Christ in 1960, Perkins returned with his wife and children to Mendenhall, Mississippi, where he established a ministry to provide both Bible training and community development programs such as health clinics, thrift stores, and housing cooperatives. He now serves as the president of the John M. Perkins Foundation in Jackson, Mississippi.

“Our call as evangelicals is to proclaim the good news and the gospel,” Perkins said about an evangelical call to activism. “Social action is inherently a part of the gospel because it is meeting human needs.”

Perkins has authored or contributed to many books, including A Quiet Revolution, Let Justice Roll Down, With Justice For All, and A Time to Heal.

The Julius B. Gay Lectures are among Southern Seminary’s most prestigious lectureships, dating back to 1895. The lectures have brought some of Christianity’s most significant figures to the seminary campus, most notably Martin Luther King Jr. in 1961.

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