Race and Christianity event to be held by BYU campus groups

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Willie James Jennings will present virtually at the Race and Christianity event. (BYU Religious Outreach Council)

BYU campus organizations are sponsoring a two-day, virtual lecture on race and Christianity.

Willie James Jennings will be presenting during the event. He is a professor of systematic theology and Africana studies at the Yale Divinity School.

The lectures will happen on Friday, Dec. 4 and Dec. 11. The Religious Outreach Council, a branch under the BYU Religious Education Department, provides information on registration and the schedule on its website.

Jennings will present on two books he wrote on the topic of race and religion. A different book will be featured during each of the two days. The lectures will be followed by workshop and question and answer periods.

“Each Friday will offer a two-tiered engagement with Dr. Jennings’s work. An overview lecture in the morning will be open to all faculty, staff and students. It will summarize in accessible fashion the highlights and insights of the book under consideration,” the Religious Outreach Council website states.

BYU professor Grant Underwood is the Richard L. Evans Chair of Religious Understanding. He has the role of promoting the understanding between those of different faiths. The Richard L. Evans Chair is one of the co-sponsors which helped in the event planning.

He explained the event aligns with the objective of the Richard L. Evans Chair, which is to “deepen religious understanding and cultivate interfaith goodwill and understanding.”

“In this time of considerable focus on racial issues and tensions, I wanted to invite to the campus one of the country’s leading scholars on the relationship of race to religion,” Underwood said.

Jennings will present on two books he wrote relating to race and religion. (BYU Religious Outreach Council)

The BYU Interfaith Student Association is a co-sponsor as well. Association president Nick Hainsworth said the event fits in well with the objectives of the association.

The goal of the Interfaith Student Association is to give students who are not members or former members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints a safe space to share their beliefs, opinions and world-views. The association also welcomes active members of the Church to gain a new perspective and empathize with those with different backgrounds.

“It’s an environment where you learn to listen and understand other people who orient around religion differently than you,” Hainsworth said.

He hopes students can find the “intersection between race and religion” by listening to the lectures.

Underwood said the presentation will be offered online through a Zoom webinar. He recommended interested students tune into the main 10 a.m. lecture. He said this event shows the large amount of the campus community with interest in the topic.

“It explores solutions that enable us to reorient our thinking, understand some of the undergirding problems, address those, and move forward to a different place, a level of understanding that helps us become more unified rather divided,” Underwood said.

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