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Austin Seminary is thrilled to introduce our 2024 MidWinter Lecturers. Groundbreaking scholars and practitioners, Emilie M. Townes, Cláudio Carvalhaes, and Cheryl Bear will speak to contemporary issues in the church and society from their particular social locations, sure to ignite a lively exchange of ideas and perspectives. Daily services in Shelton Chapel, led by Presbyterian Pastor Chris Currie, will ground our conversations within the context of the worship of God. While our lectures and worship will be live-streamed, the in-person experience—with lectures, Q&As, conversations, worship, and fun and relaxing social times—has been crafted to offer a lively and engaging connection with the lecturers and other participants. Make your plans now to join us in January!

Thomas White Currie Lecturer

Emilie M. Townes

Dean Emerita and University Distinguished Professor of Womanist Ethics and Society at Vanderbilt University Divinity School

“Premeditated Indifference: Facing (In)Justice with the Power of Hope”

Sometimes the power of hope is all that sustains us when we look at the world around us and ask, “How did we get ourselves into such deep divisions?”  Rather than turn away from the challenges that this question poses, these three lectures will explore how we can use hope as both solace for our souls and a call to action in our public witness. 

Dr. Emilie M. Townes is the dean emerita and University Distinguished Professor of Womanist Ethics and Society and Gender and Sexuality Studies at Vanderbilt University Divinity School, the first African American to serve as dean of the Divinity School (2013-2023). She is the former Andrew W. Mellon Professor of African American Religion and Theology at Yale University Divinity School.

Editor of two collection of essays, A Troubling in My Soul: Womanist Perspectives on Evil and Suffering and Embracing the Spirit: Womanist Perspectives on Hope, Salvation, and Transformation; she has also authored Womanist Ethics, Womanist Hope, In a Blaze of Glory: Womanist Spirituality as Social WitnessBreaking the Fine Rain of Death: African American Health Issues and a Womanist Ethic of Care, and her groundbreaking book, Womanist Ethics and the Cultural Production of Evil. 

Townes was elected a Fellow in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2009. She was the first Black woman to serve as president of the American Academy of Religion in 2008 and served a four-year term as president of the Society for the Study of Black Religion (2012 – 2016).

In 2022, Townes was elected to the presidential line of the Society of Christian Ethics. Her presidential year will be 2025. At that time, she will be the first Black woman to hold this office.

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.

Robert F. Jones Lecturer

Cláudio Carvalhaes

Professor of Worship, Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York

“Two Ways of Being in the World: To Rise and To Land”

Amidst so many challenges around us, we have to keep asking ourselves what can keep us alive. In these two lectures, two gestures will be offered: to rise and to land. 

Dr. Cláudio Carvalhaes, earth thinker, theologian, liturgist, and artist, a native Brazilian, completed his PhD in liturgy and theology at Union Theological Seminary in New York City in 2007. He earned his first Master of Philosophy degree in theology, philosophy, and history at the Methodist University of Sao Paulo in 1997 and a Master of Divinity degree from the Independent Presbyterian Theological Seminary (Sao Paulo, Brazil) in 1992.

He has also taught at McCormick Theological Seminary, Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, and Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Carvalhaes is an ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

A much sought-after speaker, writer and performer, Carvalhaes preached at the Festival of Homiletics, Wild Goose Festival, Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry, Jubilee 800 Order of Preachers of the Dominican Order in Italy, Societas Liturgica in Belgium, Council of World Mission in Mexico, International Academy of Practical Theology in Brazil, and the Forum of Liturgics and Ethics at Hildesheim Germany. 

Dr. Carvalhaes is the author of a number of books including Rituals at World’s End: Essays on Eco-Liturgical Liberation Theology (2021), Praying With Every Heart—Orienting Our Lives to the Wholeness of the World (2021), What Does Worship Have to do With it? Interpreting Life, Church and the World Liturgically (2018), and Eucharist and Globalization: Redrawing the Borders of Eucharistic Hospitality (2013).

He is also the editor of a unique book of liturgical resources: Liturgies from Below: Prayers from People at the Ends of the World (2020), which is a prayer book done in four continents with more than 100 people.

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.

E.C. Westervelt Lecturer

Cheryl Bear

Associate Professor at Regent College in Vancouver, BC

“Indigenous spirituality: A Way of Being and the Contextualization of the Gospel”

Through my lectures I hope to raise awareness of Indigenous worldview, culture, and spirituality so that when the next Indigenous person is in your periphery, you will have an entirely new way of being with them. You will be able to be a real human to them. That is my hope. 

Dr. Cheryl Bear, from Nadleh Whut’en First Nation,  is a multi-award winning singer/songwriter who shares stories of Indigenous life through story and song. She is well known as an important and respected voice on behalf of Indigenous peoples, a speaker and teacher who has traveled to over 600 Indigenous communities in Canada and the United States sharing her songs and stories. She also visits non-Native communities (schools, government, churches, and businesses) holding workshops to raise awareness and understanding of Indigenous issues.

Bear has released three albums: Cheryl Bear (self-titled), The Good Road, and A’BA. Cheryl’s albums have received three Indigenous People’s Choice music awards, two Covenant Awards and a Native American Music Award.

She is a founding board member of NAIITS (National Association of Indigenous Theological Studies), an Indigenous learning community. She has a Master of Divinity degree from Regent College. Her doctoral work presents an approach to First Nations ministry from the foundations of Indigenous worldview and values. She believes that leaders who are more fully informed about Indigenous worldview, culture and values will see a dramatic increase in their effectiveness in ministering to Indigenous people in North America as well as the practical missiological and theological principles explored can be implemented in any cross-cultural ministry context.

Bear is director of community ministry at First United Church in Vancouver.

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.


Chris Currie

Pastor/Head of Staff, St. Charles Avenue Presbyterian Church, New Orleans, Louisiana

Rev. Dr. Chris Currie is senior pastor at St. Charles Avenue Presbyterian Church in New Orleans Louisiana. Prior to this call, he served as pastor/head of staff at First Presbyterian Church in Shreveport, Louisiana.

Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, and raised in Texas, Currie is a graduate of Davidson College, attended Princeton Theological Seminary, and earned his PhD in systematic theology at the University of Edinburgh. He serves as a Trustee at Austin Seminary.

Dr. Currie is the author of In the Meantime: Sermons for this Time Between the Times (2018), and The Only Sacrament Left to Us: The Threefold Word of God in the Theology and Ecclesiology of Karl Barth (2015).

2024 ASA Awardees

The Austin Seminary Association has elected three graduates as its Distinguished Alumni for 2024: Anne Simpson Pardington (MCE’64), Bill Poe (MDiv’72), and  Ted Foote (MDiv’79). They will be honored at a dinner on Tuesday, January 23, during MidWinter Lectures.


Monday, January 22

4:00 p.m. Registration | Vickery Atrium in McCord Community Center
5:00 p.m. Welcome Reception
7:00 p.m. Worship: The Rev. Dr. Chris Currie, preaching | Shelton Chapel

Tuesday, January 23

8:15 a.m. Coffee Fellowship and Expo Center | Wright Center
9:00 a.m. First Currie Lecture: Dr. Emilie M. Townes
9:40 a.m. Q&A
10:00 a.m. Coffee Fellowship 
10:30 a.m. First Westervelt Lecture: Dr. Cheryl Bear
11:10 a.m. Q&A 
11:30 a.m. Fellowship Luncheon | Stotts Hall (ticket required)
11:30 a.m. Book Signing with Faculty and Lecturers during Luncheon
1:30 p.m. First Jones Lecture: The Rev. Dr. Cláudio Carvalhaes
2:10 p.m. Q&A
2:30 p.m. Second Currie Lecture: Dr. Emilie M. Townes
3:10 p.m. Q&A
3:30 p.m. Coffee Fellowship | Wright Center
4:00 p.m. Conversation with the Speakers | Wright Hall
4:50 p.m. Chapel Bells call to Worship
5:00 p.m. Word and Sacrament: The Rev. Dr. Chris Currie, preaching
6:30 p.m. Alumni Celebration (formerly called the ASA Banquet)| Stotts Dining Hall (ticket required)

Wednesday, January 24

8:15 a.m. Gathering Music | Wright Center
8:30 a.m. Second Westervelt Lecture: Dr. Cheryl Bear
9:10 a.m. Q&A
9:30 a.m. Coffee Fellowship
10:00 a.m. Second Jones Lecture: The Rev. Dr. Cláudio Carvalhaes
10:40 a.m. Q&A
11:00 a.m. Third Currie Lecture: Dr. Emilie M. Townes
11:40 a.m. Q&A
12:00 p.m. Conclusion & Benediction: President José R. Irizarry 


Lodging Suggestions

There is no lodging available on the Austin Seminary campus during MidWinters. 

Keep checking as new options may be added.


Austin Seminary is in Central Austin, just north of the University of Texas campus at 100 East 27th Street, 78705. Lectures will take place on campus in the Wright Learning and Information Center (5) and worship will be in Shelton Chapel (4) as shown on the campus map below.


All parking spaces on the Austin Seminary campus not noted as "Reserved" will be available for visitors to park for free.

Past MidWinters Photo Gallery