December 27, 2005

Marilynne Robinson, whose novel Gilead won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for fiction, has been awarded the 2006 Louisville Grawemeyer Award in Religion. It is the first time that the Grawemeyer religion prize, begun in 1985, has been awarded for a work of fiction. The novel, which has been described as “profoundly theological but never preachy,” is narrated by a preacher in failing health who writes about his life to his seven-year-old son in Iowa. Robinson currently is on leave as an instructor at the University of Iowa’s Writers’ Workshop.

Michael Livingston, a Presbyterian minister who is executive director of the International Council of Community Churches, was installed last month as president of the National Council of Churches. The ICCC, formed by merger in 1950 and headquartered in Frankfort, Illinois, is one of the smaller NCC member churches. Livingston described the ICCC as a “fellowship of ecumenically minded, freedom-loving churches cooperating in fulfilling the mission of the church in the world.”

Philip A. Amerson, president of Claremont (California) School of Theology since 2000, will become president of another United Methodist–related campus, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois, on June 1. Amerson will succeed Ted A. Campbell, president since 2001, who earlier expressed his desire to return to research and teaching. “I repeatedly declined this invitation [from Garrett-Evangelical] over the summer months,” Amerson said, but finally decided “to finish my career” close to family in the Chicago area.

Daniel J. Lehmann has been elected to a four-year term as editor of the Lutheran, the official magazine of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America with a paid circulation of 347,000. Lehmann, 54, a former newspaper reporter and editor, and most recently a public information officer for the U.S. District Court in northern Illinois, is the first layperson in 40 years to edit the denomination’s magazine (a history that includes the magazines of the ELCA’s predecessor churches).

Former Southern Baptist Convention president Adrian Rogers, whose conservative leadership helped swing the denomination to the theological and cultural right in recent decades, died November 15 in a Memphis, Tennessee, hospital. Rogers, 74, had suffered from colon cancer and pneumonia in both lungs. Rogers, a popular radio preacher as well as a megachurch pastor, became president in 1979 in the first of a string of fundamentalist-led election victories at the convention’s annual meetings.