To close this week’s Interfaith Lecture Series, the Rev. Joan Brown Campbell and Rex Ellis are going to compile the week’s ideas and information to encourage the audience to do one thing: take action.
“It’ll be a wind-up, really, of the whole week, and we’ll bring it into the present. If we hold these truths to be self-evident, well, what are these truths, and do we follow them?” Campbell said, adding that today’s lecture will bring the theme full circle.
At 2 p.m. today in the Hall of Philosophy, the panelists will take the ideas presented earlier in the week and apply them to present-day conflicts. The panelists are representatives of the institutions that sponsored this week’s Interfaith Lecture Series.
Campbell is the director of the Department of Religion at Chautauqua, and Ellis is the associate director for curatorial affairs of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, which is expected to open by the fall of 2015.
James Horn, the vice president of research and historical interpretation for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, originally was scheduled to speak on the panel but had to leave to prepare Colonial Williamsburg for Hurricane Irene.
“It’s not so much about the partnership itself as it is about going forward. What has the partnership meant, and how can we each go forward?” Campbell said.
She added that the week would not have been possible without a group effort from all three organizations.
Horn also was the narrator at the Interfaith Lecture Series on Wednesday. As a historian, he was drawn to Colonial Williamsburg because of his passion for research. But at Colonial Williamsburg, he gets to take his work a couple of steps further.
“Most historians don’t get a chance to see their ideas take shape and form in three dimensions,” Horn said. “So when we come up with ideas as to what we want to do, we can actually put them out there in the streets or in the buildings.”
Colonial Williamsburg’s goal is to inspire Americans to learn from the past and see its importance to society today. Americans can take legacies and lessons from the past that help people to see the past as related to the present, rather than something detached, Horn said.
In fact, many of the struggles Americans faced during the Civil War and the American Revolution still are modern ideas.
“I’ll talk about Chautauqua as a place in which we’re able to bring people together to explore these difficult issues,” Campbell said. “It was really between justice and preservation of the Union, and (when) you look at today, is it really that different?”
Americans have a right to control of their government, and there are inalienable rights that all people have. But there are two sides of the coin, and Americans tend to forget that with their rights come responsibilities, Horn said.
“I think we badly need a dialogue on who we are as a people,” Horn said, adding that a discussion of citizenship and values will be prevalent in the lecture. “I think people are looking for some broader answers that don’t revolve around out-and-out consumerism and materialism. What is it to be American? What kind of society do we want to shape?”
Campbell has been the director of the Department of Religion for more than a decade and is an ordained minister. She has worked with the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Martin Luther King Jr., former President Bill Clinton and others. She dedicated her life to her faith and the pursuit of civil rights and recently published Living Into Hope: A Call to Spiritual Action for Such a Time As This.
In addition to his work at the museum, Ellis was the vice president of the Historic Area for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and has a master’s degree from Wayne State University, a master’s degree of divinity from Virginia Union University and a doctorate in education from the College of William and Mary. He is the author of Beneath the Blazing Sun: Stories from the African American Journey and With a Banjo on My Knee.
Dr. Joan Brown Campbell
The Rev. Dr. Joan Brown Campbell is an ordained minister with standing in two Christian denominations, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the American Baptist Church.
Like many women in her generation, the Rev. Campbell was first a wife, mother and community volunteer. At age 50, the Rev. Campbell was ordained. She was already a leader in the ecumenical interfaith movement where she gave leadership for over 30 years.
Dr. Rex M. Ellis is Vice president for the Historic Area at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. His presentation, lectures, workshops and consultancies focus on, public programming, diversity, interpretation, and African American History and cultures. His disciplinary interests also include the spoken word, and early American History, with special emphasis on colonial slavery.
James Horn is vice president of research for the Colonial Williamsburg
Foundation. He is the author of numerous books and articles on colonial
America, most recently A Land As God Made It: Jamestown and the Birth of America (2005), and is currently editing the writings of Captain John Smith for the Library of America series.