Chidester Lecture Series

This continuing series of speakers explores what it means to be a Christian in the 21st century. Saturday lectures are from 4-5:30 p.m. including 30 minutes of Q&A.


Sunday talks (if applicable) are from 9:30-10:20 a.m. between services.

All are welcome to worship with us at 8:30 a.m. and 10:40 a.m.


Tickets for Saturday are $15, available at the door.

No tickets are required for Sunday.


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The Chidester Lecture Servies was established by Sylvania UCC with funds donated to honor the life of William Henry Chidester.  Bill served as pastor at Sylvania UCC for 25 years before his death on May 21, 2011.

Upcoming Lectures:

April 28-29, 2018: Philip Gulley


Past Lectures:


Oct. 28-29, 2017: RITA NAKASHIMA BROCK

Rita Nakashima Brock (Research Professor of Theology and Culture and Director of the Soul Repair Center, Brite Divinity School) is an expert on moral injury and its relationship to other traumas, especially in military veterans. She is director of Faith Voices for the Common Good and a minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). 


March 11-12, 2017: WIL GAFNEY

Wil Gafney (Ph.D. Duke University) is associate professor of Hebrew Bible at Brite Divinity School and an Episcopal priest canonically resident in the Diocese of Pennsylvania and licensed in the Diocese of Fort Worth. Among her research interests are feminist biblical studies, rabbinic studies and issues in translation.


January 14-15, 2017: QUINN CALDWELL

Quinn Caldwell is minister at Plymouth Congregational Church (UCC), Syracuse, NY. Caldwell is a member of the UCC Stillspeaking Writers' Group and an author for the Stillspeaking Daily Devotionals. He is a former associate minister at Old South Church in Boston. He is the co-author of The Unofficial Handbook of the United Church of Christ and author of All I Really Want: Readings for a Modern Christmas.

November 5, 2016: JOHN DORHAUER

John Dorhauer is the General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ. He is the author of two books, Steeplejacking: How the Christian Right Is Hijacking Mainstream Religion and Beyond Resistance: The Institutional Church Meets the Postmodern World. He has a Doctoral degree in White Privilege studies, with a focus on how white privilege affects the church.

September 24, 2016: ERIC ELNES

Eric Elnes (Ph.D. Princeton Theological Seminary) is a leading articulator of Convergence Christianity and Senior Minister of Countryside Community Church (UCC) in Omaha, NE. He has written several books on faith, theology and culture including, The Phoenix Affirmations: A New Vision for the Future of Christianity. In 2006 he helped lead a 2,500-mile walk from Phoenix to Washington, DC, to promote awareness of progressive/emerging Christian faith.

April 30-May 1, 2016: JAN LINN

Jan Linn retired from the pastorate that he shared with his wife, Joy, at Spirit of Joy Christian Church, a progressive minded congregation that they established in Apple Valley, MN. He is the author of 14 books, including A Different Jesus: a Christian Theology Big Enough for an Interfaith World and How to be an Open-Minded Christian Without Losing Your Faith.

Listen to Jan Linn's Sunday sermon "A Christian Faith Big Enough for an Interfaith World."

View photos of Jan Linn's visit

January 30-31, 2016: PETER ENNS

Peter Enns (Ph.D. Harvard University) is Abram S. Clemens professor of Biblical Studies at Eastern University (St. Davids, PA). Enns speaks and writes regularly to diverse audiences about the intersection of the ancient setting of Bible and contemporary Christian faith. He has written, edited and contributed to nearly 20 books, including his latest The Bible Tells Me So: Why Defending Scripture Has Made Us Unable to Read It.


November 7-8, 2015: THE INTERFAITH AMIGOS

The Interfaith Amigos have brought their unique blend of spiritual wisdom and humor to audiences in the U.S., Canada, Israel-Palestine and Japan. Coming together after 9/11, Pastor Don Mackenzie, Rabbi Ted Falcon and Imam Jamal Rahman have dedicated their work to supporting more effective interfaith dialogue that can bring greater collaboration on the major social and economic issues of our time. Their visit was sponsored by the Chidester Lecture Series at Sylvania UCC, the Jewish-Christian-Muslim Dialogue Committee of the University of Toledo Center for Religious Understanding, the Toledo Community Foundation and the Multifaith Council of Northwest Ohio.

Listen to "The Golden Rule and Compassion in Three Faiths"
View photos here
Toledo Blade: Multifaith message coming to Toledo


Past Chidester Lecture speakers have also included:

Nancy Dufee (January 17-18, 2015)
Annette Mahoney (November 15-16, 2014)
Robin Meyers (September 20-21, 2014)
Philip Gulley (March 15-25, 2014)
Walter Brueggemann (January 18-19, 2014)
Daniel Spencer (November 16-17, 2013)
Daoud Nassar (November 3, 2013
Diana Butler Bass (September 21-22, 2013)
Alan Jones (March 16-17, 2013)
Martin Marty (January 19-20, 2013)