Alexandria, VA – To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, Virginia Theological Seminary has announced the Religion and the Civil War Lectures at VTS, presented by the Zabriskie Lecture Series, focusing on the war’s effects on the seminary and surrounding community as well as on American religious life. Historian and VTS Trustee, William G. Thomas, Ph.D. (pictured), will deliver the first lecture of the series on Friday, May 17, at 7:30 p.m.
Historians of American religion have long noted the divisive effect of the Civil War on religious institutions in this country,” said the Rev. Robert Prichard, Ph.D., Arthur Lee Kinsolving Professor of Christianity in America and Instructor in Liturgy at VTS. “Denominations divided, Christians North and South turned to God for assistance in gaining victory over one another, and individual institutions and communities were altered. Virginia Seminary, founded in 1823, was no exception to this general pattern.”
Thomas’ lecture, titled “Revisiting the Dead House at Fort Williams: A Story of Civil War History and Memory,” will examine Alexandria’s Fort Williams as a microcosm of the war. Thomas will discuss the experiences of soldiers stationed at the fort and the disruption the war caused to their bodies, their families and the landscape around them.
An Alexandria native, Thomas is a co-editor with Edward L. Ayers, Anne S. Rubin, and Andrew Torget of the award-winning Valley of the Shadow: Two Communities in the American Civil War. He teaches Civil War history, the U.S. South, and American history at the University of Nebraska. His book The Iron Way: Railroads, the Civil War and the Making of Modern America was a 2012 Lincoln Prize Finalist. He is a member of the Virginia Theological Seminary Board of Trustees.
The lecture is hosted by VTS’ Office of Lifetime Theological Education and is free and open to the public. A 7:00 p.m. reception will precede the lecture, which will take place in the Lettie Pate Evans Room in VTS’ Addison Academic Building.
A second lecture in the Religion and the Civil War lecture series is planned for November 8, with further details and dates of other lectures to follow.
Founded in 1823, Virginia Theological Seminary is the largest of the 11 accredited seminaries of the Episcopal Church. The school prepares men and women for service in the Church worldwide, both as ordained and lay ministers, and offers a number of professional degree programs and diplomas. Currently, the Seminary represents more than 42 different dioceses and 5 different countries, for service in the Church.