NYC Minister To Discuss 'Healing The Spirit Of America'

Sept. 29, 2004
News Photo 2220The Rev. Dr. James A. Forbes Jr.

by Lori Scott Fogleman

One of the English-speaking world's "12 Most Effective Preachers" will focus on "Healing the Spirit of America," during the annual Parchman Endowed Lectures Oct. 5-7 at George W. Truett Theological Seminary at Baylor University.

The Rev. Dr. James Alexander Forbes Jr., senior minister of The Riverside Church of New York City, will speak on "A Dream of America at Its Best" Oct. 5, "Killers of the Dream of Democracy" on Oct. 6, and "The Spiritual Renewal of the Nation" on Oct. 7, at 3 p.m. each day in Truett Seminary's Powell Chapel. The lectures are free and open to the public.

Forbes is the first African-American senior pastor at Riverside, an interdenominational, interracial and international church built by John D. Rockefeller Jr. in 1927 and affiliated with the American Baptist Churches and the United Church of Christ. Before being called to the Riverside pulpit in 1989, Forbes served as The Joe R. Engle Professor of Preaching at Union Theological Seminary, where he continues as The Harry Emerson Fosdick Adjunct Professor of Preaching. In 1996, Baylor recognized Forbes as one of the "12 Most Effective Preachers" in the English-speaking world, according to a worldwide survey.

"James Forbes is widely considered one of the most dynamic and influential preachers in America," said Dr. Roger E. Olson, professor of theology at Truett Seminary. "He has been a voice for justice in American society and writes and speaks often around the country on issues related to Christianity and democratic society. Above all, however, he is a preacher of the gospel with deep evangelical roots."

In addition to Baylor's "Most Effective Preacher" designation, Forbes was named one of America's greatest Black preachers by Ebony magazine in 1984 and 1993. In October 2000, he received the prestigious Earle B. Pleasant Clergy of the Year Award from Religion in American Life (RIAL).

Forbes has earned three degrees and has been awarded 13 honorary degrees. He received his bachelor of science degree in chemistry from Howard University in 1957, a master's of divinity degree from Union Theological Seminary in 1962, and his doctor of ministry degree from Colgate-Rochester Divinity School in 1975. He also earned a clinical pastoral education certificate from the Medical College of Virginia in 1968.

Forbes has held pastorates at St. John's United Holy Church of America in Richmond, Va., Holy Trinity Church in Wilmington, N.C., and St. Paul's Holy Church in Roxboro, N.C. He also worked as campus minister for Virginia Union University in Richmond, Va., from 1968-70.

In 1998, Forbes participated in the Department of Justice Round Table on Youth Violence at the White House and delivered the keynote address at the President's Initiative on Race meeting in New Orleans. From 1992 to the present, he has been co-chair of A Partnership of Faith, an interfaith organization of clergy among New York's Protestant, Catholic, Jewish and Muslim communities. He is a consultant to the Congress of National Black Churches and past president of The Martin Luther King Fellows.

Forbes was born in 1935 in Burgaw, N.C. He and his wife, Bettye Franks Forbes, formerly of San Antonio, have one son, James A. Forbes III.

The Parchman Endowed Lectures bring world-renowned theologians to the Baylor campus and enable Truett Seminary to make a significant contribution to the realm of theological dialogue and the life of the church. The lectures were established in 1999 by Leo and Gloriana Parchman to encourage dynamic discussion on topics related to theological studies.

Past lecturers include New Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann, Templeton Prize winner John Polkinghorne, Canon Theologian of Westminster Abbey N.T. Wright, theological ethicist Lewis B. Smedes, and preeminent theologian Jnrgen Moltmann.

For more information, contact Olson at (254) 710-6654 or

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