Ken Sawyer: Expanding the Frame, September 27

Our times call for perspective and a wisdom that discerns connections between past and present. A better and broader understanding of American history and world history will bring current conflicts into sharper focus, and can provide resources for our current considerations. In order to participate more thoughtfully in the current season, we need to “expand the frame” of our history to include more of the faithful agitators, advocates, and allies of the past and the present. We invite you to join us in exploring some of themes, perspectives, voices, and views of a broader, more demanding, and compelling history.


Presenter:  Ken Sawyer, Professor of Church History, McCormick Theological Seminary

I joined the McCormick community in 1980, began teaching in 1988, and was appointed to the regular faculty in 1993. I am a member of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). My teaching and training has centered in the broad Reformed tradition and New and Old School Presbyterian history in the decades before the Civil War, with special focus on varieties of abolitionism. In recent years three quite distinct themes have been central to my teaching: the history of early or “classical” Islam, the extensive literary traditions of the Early Church Mothers and Fathers, and the tasks of dismantling the carceral state. PhD, U. of Chicago,



These are days of great scholarship and analysis, including the following:

  • Blight, David. Frederick Douglass, Prophet of Freedom. Simon & Schuster, 2018.
  • Blumenthal, Sidney. The Political Life of Abraham Lincoln. 3 vols. Simon & Schuster, 2017-.
  • Kendi, Ibram X. How to be an Anti-Racist. On World Press, 2019.
  • Sharpe, Christina. In the Wake: On Blackness and Being. Duke U. Press, 2016.
  • Schulman, Sarah. Conflict is Not Abuse: Overstating Harm, Community Responsibility and the Duty of Repair. Arsenal Press, 2016.
  • Karumitsu, Kenji. Booklet of Uncommon Prayer: Collects for #BlackLives Matter. ESA, 2017.
  • Praying with James Baldwin in an age of #BlackLivesMatter    at:


This is a public presentation for FIDE (a Presbyterian Faith Formation Collective)

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