The Peter Ainslie Lecture on Christian Unity was established in the Council on Christian Unity to provide a permanent remembrance of the Reverend Dr. Peter Ainslie III (1867 – 1931) and to continue his strong witness to the vision of unity and reconciliation in a strife-torn world.

In October 1910 at Topeka, Kansas, Reverend Dr. Ainslie, as President of the General Convention of the Disciples of Christ, gave a fiery address, Our Fellowship and the Task, calling Disciples to reclaim their vision of Christian unity. Disciples responded by creating a Council on Christian Union (later named the Council on Christian Unity) with Peter Ainslie as its first president.

Inaugurated in 1982 with a major gift of Mr. Frank Baker of Baltimore, Maryland, the Ainslie Lecture Fund underwrites a presentation by an internationally recognized ecumenical leader as part of the ongoing program of the Council on Christian Unity of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) to interpret the ecumenical calling to unity in the one Church of Jesus Christ.


List of the Lectures

31th (2023): Andrew Whitehead, Christian Nationalism and Our Churches, Past and Present; Address at the joint Dinner of the Christian Unity and Interfaith Ministry and the Disciples of Christ Historical Society at the 2023 General Assembly in Louisville, KY.

Dr. Andrew Whitehead is an Associate Professor of Sociology and Director of the Association of Religion Data Archives at the Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture at IUPUI.

Whitehead is one of the foremost scholars of Christian nationalism in the United States. He is the lead author of Taking America Back for God: Christian Nationalism in the United States (Oxford University Press, 2020)–along with Samuel Perry–which won the 2021 Distinguished Book Award from the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion. His other book, American Idolatry: How Christian Nationalism Betrays the Gospel and Threatens the Church, was published in August 2023 by Brazos Press.

Whitehead is a sought-after speaker and has shared his work with diverse audiences: academic and public, religious and secular. Whitehead’s research on Christian nationalism has been featured across several national outlets including The New York Times, NPR, The New Yorker, The Washington Post, CNN Today, The Economist, Rolling Stone, and The Guardian. He has been interviewed on NBC News, National Public Radio, and the BBC, among others, and is routinely contacted for perspective on religion and politics from national and international news media. He has also written for The Washington Post, Time, NBC News, and the Religion News Service, among other outlets. Along with his work on Christian nationalism, Whitehead’s research also explores childhood disability and religion. He is the author of fifty peer-reviewed journal articles. In 2019, his co-authored article “Make America Christian Again: Christian Nationalism and Voting for Donald Trump in the 2016 Presidential Election” (Sociology of Religion, 2018) won the Distinguished Article Award for both the Association for the Sociology of Religion and the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion.

Whitehead serves as co-Director of the Association of Religion Data Archives ( The ARDA is the world’s largest online religion data archive and is currently funded through generous support from the Lilly Endowment and the John Templeton Foundation. Whitehead serves on the Board of Directors of the Public Religion Research Institute ( and the Religion Research Association.

30th (2019): Peter W. Marty, Faith for the Common Good: The Ecumenical & Interfaith Legacy of Charles Clayton Morrison; Address at the joint Dinner of the Council Christian Unity and the Disciples of Christ Historical Society at the 2019 General Assembly in Des Moines, IA.

Reverend Dr. Peter Marty serves as the senior pastor of St. Paul Lutheran Church, a 3500-member congregation in Davenport, Iowa, and the publisher of The Christian Century, a journal devoted to shaping America’s conversation about religion and faith in public life. 

A frequent preacher and speaker at churches and conferences across the country, Marty has written numerous articles related to culture, character, and faith issues in our day. He is the author of the Anatomy of Grace (Augsburg Fortress, 2008). From 2004-2009, he served as host of the national radio broadcast, Grace Matters.

In 2010, the Academy of Parish Clergy named him “Parish Pastor of the Year,” an award recognizing leadership excellence and faithfulness in congregational development. He has preached in some of America’s more notable pulpits including Washington National Cathedral, Duke Chapel, and Yale University. From 2010 to 2016 he served as the lead columnist for The Lutheran magazine. In 2009, he was named the visiting Hoskins Fellow at Yale Divinity School. Marty has served on various hospitals, colleges, foundations, and community boards. He is a graduate of The Colorado College and Yale Divinity School and was the recipient of an honors fellowship in history for study at Oxford University. 

Marty has piloted interfaith dialogue events, been active in anti-hate group efforts, and served on different ecumenical ministry boards. On the St. Paul church campus he leads a pastoral residency program funded, in part, by Lilly Endowment Inc. This program, designed for fostering pastoral excellence, is the only such program in the country situated in a Lutheran Church setting.

He is the recipient of two honorary doctorates. Peter is married to Susan and they have two adult children.

29th (2017): Joel Ortega Dopico, Address at the International Dinner at the 2017 General Assembly in Indianapolis, IN; To download the transcript, click here.

Reverend Joel Ortega Dopico is President of the Cuban Council of Churches and Pastor of the Presbyterian Reformed Church of Cuba. Originally from Cardenas, Matanzas, Cuba, he studied at the Protestant Theological Seminary of Cuba at Matanzas, graduating in 1997 with a Bachelor’s degree, and in 2002 with a Master’s degree.

Reverend Ortega Dopico is active in the ACT Alliance and through ACT and the Cuban Council, has worked extensively on humanitarian emergency actions in Cuba, Haiti, the Caribbean Region, as well as Central and Latin America. In 2016, sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, he participated in the first United Nations World Humanitarian Summit, in Istanbul, Turkey.

Reverend Ortega Dopico participated in the visits of Pope Francis and of President Obama to Cuba. He was invited and present at the historic opening of the Cuban Embassy in Washington D.C., and the U.S. Embassy in Havana. The Cuban Council of Churches plays an important role in mutual understanding and normalization between Cuba and U.S. He receives visits of U.S. senators in his office in Havana and has visited Senate offices in Washington D.C. He works closely with churches and people in the U.S. around the move toward normal relations between the churches and people in both countries.

28th (2015): Bishop Munib Younan,  Address at the International Dinner at the 2015 General Assembly in Columbus, OH; To download the transcript, click here.

Bishop Dr. Munib A. Younan serves as the Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL). He was consecrated as bishop (the third Palestinian to hold the office) on January 5, 1988, at the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Jerusalem in the presence of religious and political leaders from many nations. Younan was educated in Palestine and Finland and has been active in numerous faith organizations since his ordination in 1976, such as the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC), the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and the Fellowship of the Middle East Evangelical Churches (FMEEC), serving in the leadership positions in these and other organizations. Bishop Younan was the first to translate the Augsburg Confession, a Key document of the Lutheran Church, into Arabic. He is an active member of various ecumenical and interfaith dialogue initiatives in Jerusalem that he helped found.

27th (2013): Prince Dibeela, Lord, Teach Us to Pray; Address at the International Dinner at the 2013 General Assembly in Orlando, FL; To download the transcript, click here.

Reverend Dr. Prince Dibeela serves as the General Secretary of the United Congregational Church of South Africa. This lecture was presented on July 15, 2013, at the International Dinner Celebration of the Global and Ecumenical Church during the 2013 General Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). The dinner was co-sponsored by the Council on Christian Unity and the Division of Overseas Ministries of the Disciples of Christ.

26th (2011): John F. White, A new Order for a new Day – A call to be one Hush Somebody is calling our Name; Address at the Christian Unity Dinner at the 2011 General Assembly in Nashville, TN; To download the transcript, click here.

Bishop John F. White, the 130th elected and consecrated bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, serves as the Ecumenical and Urban Affairs Officer for the A.M.E. Church.

25th (2009): Michael Kinnamon, Celebrating Our History as a Movement for Unity; Address at the CCU/DCHS Dinner at the 2009 General Assembly, Indianapolis, IN; To download the transcript, click here.

Reverend Dr. Michael Kinnamon, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches, presented this address at the Council on Christian Unity/Disciples Historical Society Dinner in Indianapolis, August 1, 2009.

24th (2007): Krista Tippett,  Speaking of Faith: A New Imagination for a New CenturyAddress at the Christian Unity/Disciples World Dinner at the 2007 General Assembly, Ft. Worth, TX; To read the transcript, click here.

Krista Tippett is the creator and host of National Public Radio’s weekly show “Speaking of Faith.” She presented the 24th Ainslie Lecture at a dinner celebration jointly sponsored by the CCU and Disciples World magazine during the General Assembly in Fort Worth, TX, July 25, 2007.

23rd (2005): Samuel Kobia Address at the 2005 General Assembly, Portland, Oregan; To download the transcript, click here; To read the news release, click here.

Dr. Samuel Kobia is General Secretary of the World Council of Churches.

22nd (2004): Peter Morgan, Washington, DC

21st (2003): Michael Kinnamon, Baltimore, MD

20th (2002): Ioan Sauca, Seattle, WA

19th (2001): Michael Armour, Lexington KY

18th (2000): Andrew Young, Ft. Worth, TX

17th (1998): Paul A. Crow, Jr., Indianapolis, IN

16th (1997): Myra Neill Blyth, Lynchburg, VA

15th (1996): Geoffrey Wainwright, Springfield, IL

14th (1995): Alan D. Falconer, Tulsa, OK

13th (1994): John C. Cobb, Jr., The Unity of the Church and the Unity of Humanity, St. Louis, MO

Dr. John B. Cobb, Jr. (United Methodist) is Professor of Theology Emeritus of the School of Theology at Claremont (California) and the Claremont Graduate School. He is one of the formative interpreters of Process Theology and was the founding director of the Center for Process Studies at Claremont. Among his many books are Can Christ Become Good News Again? (1991), Becoming a Thinking Christian (1993), and Lay Theology (1994).

12th (1993): Kortright Davis, Let Not the Gods Put Asunder: Can Mature Christians Rescue the Cause of Unity from the Jaws of Social Division; Washington, D.C.

The Rev. Dr. Kortright Davis is Professor of Theology at Howard University School of Divinity, Washington, D.C. An Anglican from the Caribbean and a member of the Anglican-Roman Catholic dialogue, Professor Davis also serves as rector of Holy Comforter Episcopal Church in Washington. This Ainslie Lecture was delivered at the National City Christian Church on October 17, 1993.

11th (1992): Emilio Castro, The Ecumenical Winter; San Diego, CA

10th (1991): Jean-Marie Tillard, O.P., The Theological Significance of the Disciples of Christ-Roman Catholic International Dialogue for the Ecclesiology of the Ecumenical Movement; Lousiville, KY

9th (1990): Robert Woon Lynn, The Crisis of Leadership in Oldtime Protestant Churches; Lexington, KY

8th (1989): Mary Tanner, Ecumenical Attitudes at the End of the Ecumenical Century; Nashville, TN

7th (1988): Archbishop Iakovos, The Unity We Seek: An Orthodox Pastoral Overview, Chicago, IL

Archbishop Iakovos is Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in North and South America. His lecture was given Nov. 8, 1988, at St. Andrew Greek Orthodox Church, Chicago, IL.

6th (1987): Fred B. Craddock, Christian Unity and the New Testament: A Conversation Between Luke and John, Memphis, TN

Dr. Fred Craddock holds the Bandy Distinguished Chair in Preaching and New Testament at Chandler School of Theology at Emory University, Atlanta, GA.

5th (1986): Robert A.K. Runcie, The Unity We Seek, New Haven, Connecticut

Robert A.K. Runcie was enthroned the 102nd Archbishop of Canterbury in 1980. His voice of calm authority and bold witness, especially in the area of ecumenism, peace, hunger, human rights, and spirituality, have given him an international role far beyond the title of his office. This lecture, sponsored by the Council on Christian Unity, was delivered Oct 9, 1986, to a packed audience of 1200 people in the historic Battell Chapel on the campus of Yale University.

4th (1985): Kosuke Koyama, Reflections on War and Peace for an Ecumenical Theology 40 Years after Hiroshima, Topeka, KS

Dr. Koyama, a leading voice in Asian Theology, is Professor of Ecumenics and World Christianity at Union Theological Seminary in New York

3rd (1984): Albert C. Outler, Ecumenism in a Postliberal Age; Indianapolis, IN

2nd (1983): J.E. Lesslie Newbigin,  The Basis and the Forms of Unity; San Antonio, TX

1st (1982): Jan Cardinal Willebrands, Called to Unity and Wholeness; Baltimore, MD

Jan Cardinal Willebrands, President of the Vatican’s Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity, delivered this address as the inaugural Peter Ainslie Lecture on Christian Unity on October 20, 1982, at Christian Temple, the congregation of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Baltimore where Rev. Dr. Ainslie served as pastor.