Lenny Duncan

Lenny Duncan

Activist and author the Rev. Lenny Duncan will speak on the Wartburg College campus Monday, Nov. 18, in McCaskey Lyceum in the Saemann Student Center.

The 7 p.m. program, “Dear (College of the) Church …,” will be followed by a reception and book signing in the Hagemann Castle Room. Duncan also will speak Nov. 18 during the weekly chapel at 10:15 a.m., followed by a book signing in The Wartburg Store from 10:45 to 11:30 a.m. Both are open to the public.

Duncan wrote “Dear Church: A Love Letter from a Black Preacher to the Whitest Denomination in the U.S.” In his book he argues, among other things, that “it is time for the church to rise up, dust itself off, and take on forces of this world that act against God: whiteness, misogyny, nationalism, homophobia and economic injustice.” Limited copies of the book are available at The Wartburg Store.

“I have asked him to think with us a bit about what this clarion call means for the college,” said Caryn Riswold, professor of religion and the Mike and Marge McCoy Family Distinguished Chair in Lutheran Heritage and Mission. “What is our responsibility as a college of the church empowering students to serve and lead, when some of the defining issues of our time are intersecting injustices like racism, sexism, and homophobia? Lenny Duncan brings us a fresh voice grounded in the gospel and open to the challenges of our future.”

The unlikely preacher spent many of his teen years homeless after leaving home at 13 and was later incarcerated. He earned his Master of Divinity from United Lutheran Seminary and since March 2018 has served at Jehu’s Table in Brooklyn, N.Y. Duncan describes the church as “a community for all marginalized peoples.”

He also is the executive director of Emmaus Collective, a network of churches that have agreed to enter into the covenant of quantifiable anti-racism work. He also serves as board chaplain for Reconciling Works, an LGBTQIA-affirming Lutheran ministry that helps foster a safe space for queer Christians.

Duncan’s visit was made possible by the Mike and Marge McCoy Family Distinguished Chair in Lutheran Heritage and Mission, the Saemann Chair in World Communities and the Spiritual Life & Campus Ministry Office.