President Dean K. Thompson announced today that Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary has called Dr. Johnny B. Hill as Assistant Professor of Theology, highlighting Hill’s experience in reconciliation as a wonderful fit with the Seminary’s vision of becoming a multicultural institution.
A graduate of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary (PhD) in Evanston, Ill., where he is currently a teaching assistant, Hill also earned degrees from Duke Divinity School (MDiv; ThM), and Morehouse College (BA).
His research and writing, including his dissertation, have focused on community and global reconciliation, exemplified in the work of Martin Luther King Jr. and Desmond Tutu. Recently, Hill presented “The Burden of Reconciliation: Examining Race and Privilege in Contemporary Society” at the Summer Links Program, University of Chicago (July 2005), and “M.K. Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and Nonviolence in Postmodernity” at the M.K. Gandhi Conference on Nonviolence in Memphis, Tenn., in October.
"Dr. Johnny Hill comes to our community of the Word as a theologian who cares deeply about reconciliation. He is also a committed pastor who embodies many spiritual gifts. His presence and teaching will be warmly received by our LPTS family," said Seminary President, Dean K. Thompson.
A deep interest in a ministry of reconciliation has led Hill to participate in many projects aimed at fostering more intercultural and inter-religious conversation, community renewal and reform, and multicultural awareness. In addition to teaching, his work has included assisting and serving as acting director of the African American Student Affairs Program at Chicago’s Northwestern University, working with 14 African American student groups and developing multicultural programs that promote academic excellence and community. He has worked with numerous community organizations in the Chicago area on issues of housing reform and gang violence. And over the years, he has participated in several international mission trips to Haiti, Mexico, Kenya, and Honduras, where he “first learned the language of reconciliation and experienced first-hand the global situations that now compel seminaries to become more sensitized and aggressive in preparing men and women for ministries in multicultural communities.”
Kathryn Johnson, LPTS professor of historical theology and member of the faculty search committee, was immediately drawn to Hill’s work. “I can't think of a topic that would be more central to our work here at the Seminary in the years to come. During our interviews, it was apparent that he was at the same time interested in the study of reconciliation and also in the practice of it. His refusal to separate the fruits of theological study from the flourishing of God's world is just what we seek to witness at LPTS.”
Throughout his academic studies, Hill has also served the church, an aspect of integrated service and vocation that he admires in the LPTS faculty. “I was impressed by the world class faculty at LPTS,” he said. “They are not only outstanding scholars in their fields; they are also devoted church leaders. It is unique to find seminary faculty simultaneously committed to the church and to academia.” Since 2003, Hill, an ordained American Baptist, has served as an assistant pastor at Second Baptist Church, an urban congregation in the heart of Evanston, outside Chicago. He has also served churches in Durham, N.C., and Philadelphia.
Hill said he was attracted to teach at LPTS because of the Seminary’s mission to teach in the Reformed Tradition – a dedication to scholarship and critical theological engagement. He was also drawn to the Seminary’s diverse, ecumenical community and its commitment to multicultural and anti-racist efforts, saying he looked forward to addressing with the LPTS community social and ethical concerns in the worship, thought, and service of the Church.
“I am thrilled to become part of this commitment,” said Hill, who will begin his LPTS teaching career June 1. “Part of the challenge will include expanding the curriculum, participating in recruitment efforts, and holding events that promote the experience of reconciliation.”
“Johnny Hill has a promising academic career ahead of him,” said Seminary Dean David Hester, also a member of the search committee. “We are honored that he has chosen to begin it among us. His deep interest in a theology of reconciliation touches a vitally important subject and need in contemporary society and adds a welcome note to the theological conversation in our seminary community.”
Hill said he “loves the energy and vitality of student life.” As a professor, he wants to help students seek to know God through others and in the context of community. “We understand more about God when we are in relationship with ‘the other,’ particularly those who are different. It is through understanding and embracing that difference that we can begin to understand and embrace the fullness of who God is,” he said.
Louisville Seminary’s faculty members include theologian-scholars, researchers, counselors, and therapists who are committed to providing high-quality instruction to students. A 12:1 student to faculty ratio fosters a collegial learning environment in the classroom, worship, in seminary committees, and even around the lunch tables.
The faculty consists of 17 professors with credentials from some of the world’s leading theological institutions and universities. Nearly 50 percent of the faculty is female, more than 60 percent are members of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), but United Methodist, United Church of Christ, American Baptist, Reformed Church, and Lutheran faith traditions are also represented.