Barbara Brown Taylor will be speaking at Oxford College's Samuel W. Mills Peace Lecture.

Barbara Brown Taylor to give peace lecture

Georgia author and Episcopal priest Barbara Brown Taylor will be the speaker at Oxford College's Samuel W. Mills Peace Lecture on Oct. 2.

The lecture, which is free to attend, will be held at 7:30 p.m. in the Allen Memorial United Methodist Church, 803 Whatcoat St., in Oxford.

Taylor, a former Candler School of Theology faculty member, made the 2014 Time list of Most Influential People and in 2015 was named Georgia Woman of the Year. She is expected to discuss “holy envy” as a peaceful strategy for living with religious difference, offering people of faith—and those with no faith—a way to explore and deepen their own commitments by engaging those of others.

The Mills Peace Lecture is named for Oxford College alumnus Samuel Mills, who died in a bicycling accident his senior year at Emory University in 1986. His family endowed the lecture series in his memory.

The first peace lecture was given by former US President Jimmy Carter, says David Gowler, director of Oxford’s Pierce Program in Religion, one of the co-sponsors of the event. He's also the Dr. Lovick Pierce and Bishop George F. Pierce Professor of Religion. The lecture is also sponsored by Oxford College Religious and Spiritual Life and Advancement and Alumni Engagement.

Other peace lecture speakers have included US Rep. John Lewis, US Sen. Max Cleland, former US First Lady Rosalynn Carter, and Sammy Clark, the longest serving chaplain at the Oxford campus.

“[Clark] knew Sam Mills when he was a student,” says Lyn Pace, Oxford's current chaplain. “Mills was very active in social justice and peace initiatives local and globally. The people we invite should reflect those values.”

That’s one of the reasons Taylor was chosen for the lecture series, Pace says.

Taylor, who received her undergraduate degree at Emory, recently taught at Piedmont College in Demorest, Ga. Her upcoming classroom memoir, “Holy Envy: Finding God in the Faith of Others,” is based on her teaching world religion to undergraduate students at the rural college.

She has also served on the faculties of Columbia Theological Seminary, Mercer University’s McAfee School of Theology, and the Certificate in Theological Studies program at Arrendale State Prison for Women in Alto, Ga.

Religion has been a source of conflict forever, Pace says, but Taylor will be talking about living in the most religiously diverse nation, the conflict that creates, and the lessons that can be learned from that diversity.

“She’s done a lot of social justice work in her teaching, preaching, and writing,” Pace says. He hopes Taylor’s lecture will draw 300 to 400 attendees.

The goal of the lecture series is “to create a better understanding of issues of national and global peace, which involve understanding injustice, speaking for justice, and working for justice,” Gowler says. He hopes Taylor’s lecture will provide “a better understanding of the issues that cause conflict and the commitment to work toward a more just and peaceful society locally, nationally, and globally.”

Taylor will be a fitting speaker for the series—particularly at this moment, emphasize Pace and Gowler.

“We are human beings, so we are always creating conflict and we are always creating injustice,” Pace says. “It’s easy right now not to see it, not to hear about it, or to hear so much about it that you turn off to it. We hope the lecture will be something that engages us. It’s very relevant to what and where we are now.”