Christian Education

The Gotto Lecture Series

Through the Anita and Antonio Gotto Lecture Series, Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church offers compelling talks and presentations by renowned theologians and preachers, writers and scholars, across a range of faith traditions and academic disciplines.

David Brooks delivered the 2019 Gotto Lecture on Oct. 30.

Inaugurated in October 2018, the Gotto Lecture Series is made possible through a generous contribution from Anita and Antonio Gotto, longtime members of the congregation.

The first speaker in the series was the moral psychologist and best-selling author Dr. Jonathan Haidt. Dr. Haidt is the Thomas Cooley Professor of Ethical Leadership at New York University’s Stern School of Business. He is the author of three books—The Happiness Hypothesis (2006), The Righteous Mind: How Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion (2012) and The Coddling of the American Mind (with Greg Lukianoff, 2018). His lecture—“How Three Terrible Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure, and How Ancient Wisdom Can Lead to a Brighter Future”—built on the message of these books.

In 2019, New York Times columnist and best-selling author David Brooks headlined the Gotto Lecture. In addition to his work as a columnist and commentator, Brooks is the author of four books, including The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life (2019). He is also an executive director of The Aspen Institute, where he leads Weave: The Social Fabric Project. His lecture was entitled, “Sacred Bonds: How to Weave Americans Back Together.” A replay of this lecture is available here.

On Oct. 22, 2020, we will welcome Emma Green, religion and politics writer for The Atlantic, as our third Gotto lecturer. Green has spent nearly a decade covering religious communities at moments of tension and change. Her writing invites readers to think deeply and differently about faith and community, and to be better neighbors and citizens as a result. Her lecture will take place just 12 days before our national elections. Watch for details about this event to be announced in the fall.

Jonathan Haidt (right) with Tony and Anita Gotto in 2018.

The Gotto Lecture Series builds on the success of Fifth Avenue’s visiting authors program, created by Senior Pastor Scott Black Johnston in 2010. This program has featured such acclaimed writers as James Carroll, Thomas Long, Marilynne Robinson, Barbara Brown Taylor and Christian Wiman. 

Anita and Antonio Gotto are both natives of Nashville, Tennessee, where they attended Vanderbilt University. They lived in Houston for 25 years, where they raised their family. Tony Gotto was chair of internal medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine. Anita, a former teacher, served on a number of community boards. The Gottos moved to New York in 1997, when Tony became the dean of Weill Cornell Medical College. They joined Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in 1998, where Tony has served on the Board of Trustees and Anita on the Session.