Julia M. Speller

Julia M. Speller portait

Julia M. Speller

Kenneth B. Smith Professor of Public Ministry, and Associate Professor of American Religious History & Culture


Professor Speller’s research interests include American religious history and culture, in addition to the broader area of Church History. She is particularly interested in 20th century congregational histories with a focus on African American communities.

“A clear understanding of Church history is a necessary foundation for anyone pursuing a vocation in ministry.  It provides a map to be used to chart one’s academic journey through all areas of seminary study.  More than a litany of dates, people and movements, Church history provides lenses through which one can see, understand and interpret theological, ethical and pastoral issues.  It also opens up new vistas and possibilities for connecting one’s Christian faith with social reality and ethical/moral activism. The study of Church History is also a helpful tool in transformative ministry when it is seen in the wider context of religion and culture. It is here that one sees the dynamic interplay between issues of race, class and gender within society and the ways that religious institutions have shaped and been shaped by culture.  Church history is indeed a necessary foundation for religious leaders who are serious about preparing for ‘ministry for the real world.’”


  • BS, Chicago State University, 1982
  • MRE, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, 1985
  • MA, PhD, University of Chicago Divinity School, 1991, 1996

Sample Courses:

  • American Civil Religion
  • Black Religious Experience in American Culture
  • Religious Education in a Multicultural Context