Current Visitor

Leading By Faith – From the Sidelines to the Aisles of Congress – An Evening with J.C. Watts Jr.

Degenstein Center Theater
Wednesday, Sept. 29, 7:30 p.m.

J.C. Watts Jr. is a former Republican congressman, minister, retired professional football player and former president and CEO of Feed the Children.

Watts was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from the fourth district of Oklahoma in 1994, serving through 2003. During this time, he was elected chairman of the House Republican Conference. He also served on the House Armed Services Committee, the House Select Committee on Homeland Security, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the House Banking Committee.

Born in Eufaula, Oklahoma, Watts graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 1981, where he earned a degree in journalism. While at the University of Oklahoma, Watts quarterbacked for the Sooners, leading them to two consecutive Big Eight Championships and Orange Bowl victories. From 1981 to 1986, he started for Ottawa and Toronto in the Canadian Football League.

After returning to Oklahoma, Watts served as a youth minister at Sunnylane Baptist Church in Del City, Oklahoma, from 1987-1994, when he became associate pastor. Watts has also served as president and CEO of Feed the Children, a global hunger relief organization headquartered in Oklahoma.

Learn More About this year’s Event


About the Program

Each year, the Department of Religious Studies and the Office of the Chaplain sponsor a lecture by nationally and internationally renowned religious scholars and leaders.

While religious faith is personal, it is never merely private. The lectures typically explore the role religion plays in various aspects of public life: civic, social, spiritual, political, moral, environmental, and in terms of the formation of individual character.

Lecturers are selected by the faculty of the Department of Religious Studies on the basis of their scholarship and their ability to engage students and members of the community meaningfully.

The lectures are made possible by the Alice Pope Shade Fund, established in 1983 by her daughter, Rebecca Shade Mignot ’54. Mignot graduated from Susquehanna in 1954 in music education.

Past Visitors

  • 2019-20: Mary Robinson
  • 2018-19: Joe Lieberman
  • 2017-18: Leymah Gbowee
  • 2016-17: David Gregory-“An Unlikely Spiritual Journey”
  • 2015-16: Dr. John L. Esposito
  • 2013-2014: The Rev. Dr. William H. Willimon-“Thinking About Jesus in a Post-Christian World”
  • 2012-13: The Yuval Ron Ensemble-“The Mystical Music of the Middle East”
  • 2011-12: Robert Putnam-“American Grace: How Religion Unites Us and Divides Us”
  • 2010-11: Dean Brackley-“Sustaining the Commitment to Social Justice”
  • 2009-10: Charles Mathewes-“Faith, Irony, and Power: Niebuhrian Lessons for Liberal Education”
  • 2008-09: Amy-Jill Levine-“The Scandal of a Jewish Jesus”
  • 2007-08: John Grim and Mary Evelyn Tucker-“The Emerging Alliance of Religion and Ecology”
  • 2006-07: The Rev. Jim Wallis-“God’s Politics”
  • 2005-06: Guillermo Cuéllar, Donna Peña, Rafael Malpica-Padilla, Bill Dexheimer-Pharris, and Tom Witt-“Hymns of Justice, Solidarity and Peace”