Mercer to Host International Conference on ‘The Legacy of Walter Rauschenbusch’ in April 2018


ATLANTA – Mercer University's Center for Theology and Public Life and McAfee School of Theology, in partnership with the Acadia Centre for Baptist and Anabaptist Studies (ACBAS) and the American Baptist Historical Society (ABHS), announce plans for an international scholarly conference in recognition of the centenary of Professor Water Rauschenbusch's death.

“The Legacy of Walter Rauschenbusch” will take place April 9-11, 2018, on the University's Cecil B. Day Graduate and Professional Campus in Atlanta.

“It is truly exciting to be hosting this historic conference on Walter Rauschenbusch, one of the great Baptist scholars and activists of the 20th century,” said Dr. David Gushee, Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics and director of the Center for Theology and Public Life. “I look forward to an event that brings Rauschenbusch to life for Baptists and others who need to engage his work 100 years later. He is certainly immensely relevant to the challenges we face in both the culture and the church today.”

The ABHS, located on Mercer's Atlanta campus, houses the most extensive collection of Rauschenbusch family papers. Additionally, the conference will coincide with the publication of a new critical edition of Rauschenbusch's works by Mercer University Press.

“I'm excited about the conference as a way to share how the writings of Walter Rauschenbusch provide church leaders with insights into how to bring together personal piety and sociological analysis in addressing today's social problems,” said Dr. Deborah Van Broekhoven, executive director of ABHS.

Rauschenbusch was a Christian theologian and clergyman who is considered the father of the social gospel movement of the first two decades of the 20th century. A seventh-generation minister, he became pastor of the Second German Baptist Church in New York City, on the edge of the crime-ridden Hell's Kitchen neighborhood. His work to bring about the Kingdom of God by “transforming the life on earth into the harmony of heaven” has inspired countless clergy and social reformers, including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Desmond Tutu, and Rauschenbusch's grandson Richard Rorty.

In addition to Dr. Gushee and Dr. Van Broekhoven, the conference's planning committee includes Dr. William Brackney of Acadia University, Dr. David Yoon-Jung Kim of Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, Dr. Michael Dennis of Acadia University, Dr. Ralf Dziewas of Baptist Seminary in Elstal, Dr. Erich Geldbach of Marburg, Greg Henson of Sioux Falls Seminary and Marc Jolley of Mercer University Press.

About the Center for Theology and Public Life

Mercer University's Center for Theology and Public Life promotes public dialogue, research and constructive solutions related to important public issues to which theology and ethical reflection can make a significant contribution. The Center plans, hosts and supports events that model civic, constructive and substantive conversation about major issues in public life such as poverty and economic justice, human rights, crime and the death penalty, international peacemaking, biomedical ethics, family and sexuality, church-state relations, national identity, immigration, and others. The Center seeks whenever possible to encourage dialogue toward constructive solutions for the common good. For more information, visit

About the James and Carolyn McAfee School of Theology

The James and Carolyn McAfee School of Theology was established in 1996. Located in Atlanta, on Mercer University's Cecil B. Day Graduate and Professional Campus, the School of Theology offers degree programs leading to a Master of Arts in Christian Ministry, Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry. The School of Theology also offers several joint programs: an M.Div.-Master of Business Administration, M.Div.-Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and M.Div.-Master of Science in Organizational Leadership with a Concentration in Non-Profit. For more information, visit

About the Acadia Centre for Baptist and Anabaptist Studies

The Acadia Centre for Baptist and Anabaptist Studies is a cooperative venture between Acadia Divinity College and the Acadia University Library. Acadia University is the oldest Baptist-related institution of higher education in Canada, having its origins in Horton Academy, founded in 1828 in what is now Wolfville, Nova Scotia. Acadia Divinity College, formerly the Divinity School and now the Faculty of Theology of Acadia University, traces its beginnings to 1967 when it was separately chartered and affiliated to Acadia University. ACBAS was established by the Acadia Divinity College, in cooperation with the Vaughan Memorial Library of Acadia University in April 1991. Its primary goal is to encourage and facilitate studies in the fields of Baptist and Anabaptist history and thought. For more information, visit

About the American Baptist Historical Society

The American Baptist Historical Society is the archive and historical interpreter of a major religious denomination – American Baptist Churches USA – made up of 5,800 churches and 1.5 million people. The ABHS also serves as the Baptist historical society of America, collecting documents from many different Baptist denominations in North America and around the world. As the oldest Baptist historical organization (founded in 1853) with the largest and most diverse collection of Baptist historical material, its holdings are of irreplaceable value to church, national and global history. The ABHS serves as keeper of the record of the modern missionary movement. Its shelves hold unparalleled resources documenting African-American church associations, women's work, local church and association minutes and the social gospel movement. It publishes the oldest Baptist journal, the American Baptist Quarterly, interpreting for modern readers the lives and issues of the past that shape who Baptist are today. For more information, visit