The Biennial Michael R. Rion Lectureship
Purpose of the Michael R. Rion Lectureship
The Rion Lectureship in Ministry in Daily Life was established to honor former Hartford International University President, Dr. Michael R. Rion. Dr. Rion, the first layperson to serve as president of the Seminary, is deeply committed to lay ministry, and to strengthening the connection between religious faith and one’s involvement in work and community service. In 1989, after Dr. Rion’s six years as president, a fund was established in his honor to sponsor a biennial address at the University to be given by a layperson who in his/her life, embodies commitment to ministry in their daily life in a distinctive way.
Goals of the Lectureship
- To honor Dr. Michael R. Rion, former President of Hartford International University in a public lecture for the university community and its constituencies.
- To honor an individual who has made a significant contribution to society on a national or international level.
- To provide a learning experience for the community about various forms of ministry in daily life.
Criteria for the Lecturers
- Embodies a dedication to ministry in daily life
- Is a person of faith, willing to bring some reflection to bear on their personal practice of ministry “in the world.”
- Has a demonstrated commitment to service to others and a concern for love and justice.
History of the Lectureship
- March 15, 1991 The inaugural speaker for the biennial event was Walter J. Turnbull, founder and director of the Boys Choir of Harlem.
- April 29, 1993 Millard Fuller, the founder and Director of Habitat for Humanity addressed how his faith impacts his work.
- October 12, 1995 Bernice Johnson Reagon, founder of Sweet Honey and the Rock and a historian addressed the role of history in living in the world. This lecture was co-sponsored with Vesper Society, California and was titled the Michael R. Rion/Mark Gibbs Lecture.
List of Lecturers
- 1991 – Walter J. Turnbull, Founder and Director of the Boys Choir of Harlem
- 1993 – Millard Fuller, Founder and former President of Habitat for Humanity
- 1995 – Bernice Johnson Reagon, Founder of Sweet Honey in the Rock
- 1998 – James P. Comer, Maurice Falk Professor of Child Psychiatry at the Yale Child Study Center and Associate Dean of the Yale School of Medicine Title: - “Maggie’s American Dream: a dream deferred for today’s child?”
- 2000 (May 9th) – Bill McKibben, “Church as hope for a damaged planet,” – Bill McKibben is an author and environmentalist. His first book, The End of Nature, was re-issued in Fall 1999. Praxis, Dec 1999.
- 2004 (May 17th) – Samuel C. Hamilton, executive director and chief executive officer of the Hartford Economic Development Corporation and the Greater Hartford Business Development Center. “Living your faith,” Praxis Dec. 2003.
- 2007 (May 4th) Bluegrass Gospel Project (2001-2017) – “Bluegrass Gospel,” Praxis Dec 2006. From the internet: “The Bluegrass Gospel Project consists of former members of top New England bluegrass bands,” & “Bluegrass Gospel Project says farewell,” Rutland Herald Mar 10, 2017. Group ended 2017.
- 2009 – Stephen Carter, William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law at Yale University
- 2011 – Robert W. Edgar, Former Member of the United States House of Representatives and President and Chief Executive Officer of Common Cause
- 2014 – Peter Kelly, Former Finance Chair of the Democratic National Committee, Senior Political Advisor to Al Gore, Bill Clinton, and John Kerry, and Founding Partner of Black, Manafort, Stone and Kelly
- 2016 – José Casanova, Professor Emeritus at Georgetown University and Senior Fellow at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs
- 2018 – Beverly Daniel Tatum, President Emerita of Spelman College and author of the internationally acclaimed and bestselling book, Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?
- 2020 – Nelba Marquez-Greene, Founder of The Ana Grace Project and Director of Community Advancement at Central Connecticut State University