Mercer to Welcome Best-Selling Author, Theologian and Commentator Jim Wallis for 13th Annual Building the Beloved Community Symposium


MACON – Mercer University's 13th annual Building the Beloved Community Symposium will welcome the Rev. Jim Wallis, New York Times bestselling author, public theologian, speaker and international commentator on ethics and public life. The symposium will focus on the theme “Bridge to a New America.”

“Jim Wallis has a timely message that will help us understand the challenges of increasing demographic changes in our society. He delivers a call to greater justice and understanding that can form the bridge to a new era of racial harmony,” said Dr. John Marson Dunaway, professor emeritus of French and interdisciplinary studies and founder of the symposium.

The symposium, to be held Feb. 28-March 1 on the Macon campus, begins with a banquet on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. in the Presidents Dining Room inside the University Center, featuring Wallis' first keynote address, titled “America's Original Sin.”

Dr. Chanequa Walker-Barnes, McAfee School of Theology associate professor of pastoral care and counseling, will be featured speaker for breakfast on Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. in the fellowship hall of Centenary United Methodist Church.

Wallis will deliver his second keynote address, titled “Bridge to a New America,” on Wednesday at 10 a.m. in Penfield Hall. Immediately following the address, Wallis will moderate a panel, featuring Dr. Keith Howard, professor of mathematics in Mercer's College of Liberal Arts; the Rev. Julie Long, associate pastor and minister of children and families at First Baptist Church of Christ in Macon; Mercer undergraduate student Bekah Fulton; and McAfee School of Theology graduate student Natalia Daies. A light lunch will follow the panel at noon.

The symposium will conclude at 6:30 p.m. as Wallis preaches at Ash Wednesday Service at Centenary United Methodist Church.

Admission to all sessions is free and open to the public. Reservations are required for meals and must be made by contacting Trish Dunaway at (478) 475-9506 or by Feb. 24.

Wallis is president and founder of Sojourners in Washington, D.C., a nonprofit faith-based organization, network and movement whose mission statement calls for “putting faith into action for social justice.”

He is editor-in-chief of Sojourners magazine and website, which has a combined print and electronic media readership of more than a quarter-million people with several million unique visitors to the website,, each year.

Wallis' latest book, America's Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America, was released in January 2016. He has written 11 previous books, including New York Times bestsellers God's Politics and The Great Awakening.

He is a frequent speaker in the U.S. and abroad, has written for major newspapers, is a regular columnist for Huffington Post and, and has appeared frequently on ABC, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, and NPR, as well as on shows such as Jon Stewart's Daily Show, The O'Reilly Factor, This Week and Meet the Press.

Wallis teaches at Georgetown University and has previously taught at Harvard University. He recently served on President Barack Obama's first White House Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships and as the chair of the Global Agenda Council on Values of the World Economic Forum.

Dr. Dunaway founded the Building the Beloved Community Symposium in 2005 as a way to help the church demonstrate unity through collaboration across denominational and racial boundaries based on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s concept of the “beloved community.”