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MidWinter Lectures

Important Announcement about MidWinters: Due to the recent surge in Covid-19 cases in Austin and the City’s imposition of the highest-level restrictions, Austin Seminary has made the difficult decision to ONLY LIVESTREAM our MidWinter Lectures to the public this year. If you have already registered to attend in person, your in-person ticket will allow you access to the streaming event. If you have not yet registered, please join us on our online platform to participate in the interactive livestream of lectures, worship, and fellowship activities.
The schedule has been changed and timeline adjusted to align with this change; see details below.
The Service of Dedication for the Wright Center is postponed until further notice.
“Reading the Bible Against the Bible: Re-Imagining the Marginalized”

Thomas White Currie Lecturer

Dr. Anthony B. Pinn

Agnes Cullen Arnold Professor of Humanities, Professor of Religion, Rice University, Houston, Texas

Anthony Pinn is the founding director of the Center for Engaged Research and Collaborative Learning and the inaugural director of the Center for African and African American Studies both at Rice University. In addition, he is Professor Extraordinarius at the University of South Africa and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Pinn received a BA from Columbia University and an MDiv and PhD from Harvard University. He was given the Rice University Faculty Award for Excellence in Research, Teaching and Service in 2018.

Pinn’s research interests include African American religious thought, religion and culture, humanism, and hip hop culture. He is the author/editor of more than thirty-five books including The Nature of Things: Religion, Art, and Presence Together (2021), Terror and Triumph: The Nature of Black Religion (2003), and the novel The New Disciples (2015).


The Thomas White Currie Lectures were first held in 1952. For many years the Tom Currie Bible Class of Highland Park Presbyterian Church of Dallas, Texas, sponsored this annual lectureship. In 2008 a generous gift from the Currie family established the Thomas White Currie Lectureship Endowed Fund which will underwrite them in perpetuity.

“Lessons on Courage:
What the Church Can Learn from Young People”

E.C. Westervelt Lecturer

Dr. Evelyn L. Parker

Professor Emerita of Practical Theology, Perkins School of Theology and Visiting Distinguished Professor of Practical Theology at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary

Evelyn Parker earned an MRE from Perkins School of Theology and the PhD from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary and Northwestern University where she was a Fund for Theological Education Black Doctoral Scholar.

Her books include Between Sisters: Emancipatory Hope Out of Tragic Relationships (Cascade Books, 2017) and Trouble Don’t Last Always: Emancipatory Hope Among African American Adolescents (Pilgrim Press, 2003) and The Sacred Selves of Adolescent Girls: Hard Stories of Race, Class, and Gender (Editor, Pilgrim Press, 2006). She has also published several chapters and journal articles on adolescent spirituality, including “Divine Fortitude: A Reflection on God’s goodness in black female child soldiers,” in Susan Willhauck, ed., Female Child Soldiering: Gender Violence and Feminist Theologies. (Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan, Cham, 2019).

Her work as a J. William Fulbright Scholar (2019 -2020) in Cape Town, South Africa, focused on the role of religious leaders in preventing and intervening in teen dating violence. Parker served as a member of the grant writing team for the Perkins Youth School of Theology, a $1.4 million theological program for high school youth funded by the Lilly Endowment Inc. She also served as academic dean at Perkins from 2013–2019.

The E. C. Westervelt Lectures were established in 1949 by Mr. and Mrs. Edwin Flato of Corpus Christi, Texas, in honor of the parents of Mrs. Flato.

“Opening for Jesus: Preaching Comedy in Tragic Times”

Robert F. Jones Lecturer

The Reverend Matthew Gaventa

Pastor, University Presbyterian Church, Austin, Texas

Prior to serving University Presbyterian Church in Austin, Matt Gaventa was pastor to Amherst Presbyterian Church in Amherst, Virginia, and chaplain at Sweet Briar College. He is an acclaimed writer and preacher whose work has been featured in Working Preacher and in The Christian Century, for whom he co-hosts the podcast "Sunday Morning Matinee."

He serves on the Board of Directors for the Covenant Network of Presbyterians and on the Advisory Boards of Day1 and The Church Lab.

Gaventa holds degrees from Georgetown University, the University of Iowa, and Princeton Theological Seminary, and he was the 2012 recipient of the David H.C. Read Preacher/Scholar Award from Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church.

He currently lives in Austin with his wife, Sarah, their son, Charlie, and a lovable mutt named Otto. 

The Robert F. Jones Lectures were established in 1949 by the Women of the Church of First Presbyterian Church, Fort Worth, Texas. They continue to fund the lecture in memory of their pastor of thirty-five years.

MidWinters Preacher

The Reverend Betsy Lyles Swetenburg

Pastor/Head of Staff, Northridge Presbyterian Church, Dallas, Texas

Betsy Lyles Swetenburg graduated from Davidson College with a degree in English, and upon graduation received a Church in Vocation Fellowship for a year of explorational seminary studies. She earned an MDiv at Columbia Seminary where she later served as director of admissions and financial aid. She was associate pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Atlanta.

Swetenburg is a Zick Preaching Scholar and recently served on Davidson College’s Reformed Tradition Working Group. She believes that the church is the most sustainable way to change the world even though it is not the most efficient way to change the world, and she loves being part of communities that are seeking out the new thing God is doing. 

She is married to Owen, a fellow North Carolinian, and together they are discovering the joys of life in Texas.

2022 ASA Distinguished Alumnus

Fred Tulloch (MDiv’62, ThM’69)

2022 ASA Distinguished Alumna

Martha Sadongei (MDiv’96)

Daily Schedule

Monday, January 24

4:30–5:00 p.m.
Class Reunions and Alumni

Reunion for classes of 1952, 1962, 1972, 1982, 1992, 2002, and 2012.

5:00 p.m.
First Currie Lecture

"Reading the Bible Against the Bible: Thoughts on a Rethinking of the Marginalized"
Dr. Anthony Pinn

6:00 p.m.
First Westervelt Lecture

“Lessons on Courage:
What the Church Can Learn from Ruby Doris Smith”
Dr. Evelyn L. Parker

7:30 p.m.

Rev. Betsy Lyles Swetenburg

Tuesday, January 25

10:00 a.m.
First Jones Lecture

“The Joke’s On Me: Comedy and Vulnerability in the Pulpit”
Rev. Matt Gaventa

11:00 a.m.
Second Currie Lecture

"Lot’s Wife and the Importance of Embodied Questions”
Dr. Pinn

12:30 p.m.
Second Westervelt Lecture“Lessons on Courage:
What the Church Can Learn from the Creators of #BlackLivesMatter and Octavia E. Butler’s Lauren”
Dr. Parker

1:30 p.m.
Moderated Conversation

Professor Margaret Aymer

2:30 p.m.
ASA Distinguished Alumni

7:00 p.m.
Word & Sacrament

Rev. Betsy Lyles Swetenburg

Wednesday, January 26

9:00 a.m. 
Fellowship Rooms Open

10:00 a.m.
Second Jones Lecture

“Tragedy Plus Time: Preaching Laughter in the Presence of Death”
Rev. Gaventa

11:00 a.m. 
Third Currie Lecture

"Thoughts on Thomas’s Disruptive Demand"
Dr. Pinn


President Ted Wardlaw