General News

Emma Green to Deliver the 2020 Gotto Lecture

Emma Green, an award-winning writer for The Atlantic and a noted commentator on religious issues in the United States and globally, will deliver the 2020 Anita and Antonio Gotto Lecture at Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church.

The lecture is set for 7 pm Thursday, Oct. 22, in the Sanctuary. (The event will be conducted online if public health measures remain in place.)

“I consider it a coup for us to have secured this rising star in American journalism,” says Senior Pastor Scott Black Johnston. “She will address us on her area of expertise—religion and politics—only two weeks before the November elections. Emma will offer important insight and a meaningful perspective as we prepare to go to the polls.”

“At a time of immense stress for many Americans, it’s crucial to examine the ways that faith can help, and sometimes hurt, our country’s sense of neighborliness and community,” Green says. “I am looking forward to joining Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church for a serious and urgent conversation, and could not be more thrilled for the opportunity to have this discussion.”

Green has spent nearly a decade covering religious communities at moments of tension and change. Among her recent stories is a series on the aftermath of a shooting in a Pittsburgh synagogue in 2018, when a professed white supremacist killed 11 Jews in worship and injured several others. She has also written about the Christians living in Iraq’s Nineveh Plain, who have reached a demographic crisis after decades of relentless violence and political persecution, and the diaspora communities of Chaldean Catholics who have settled in cities like Detroit.

These stories, she says, share a common goal: they invite readers to think deeply and differently about faith and community, and to be better neighbors and citizens as a result.

“The lecture will hopefully focus on themes of unity and division in American politics right now, and our inability to recognize one another as neighbors,” Green says. “I’ll look at the way this plays out in religious communities and how religious beliefs and identities can sometimes exacerbate these rifts. And although it’s hard to know where COVID-19 will be at that point, I am sure I’ll need to talk about the ways that has affected religious life in America.”

Green grew up in the suburbs of Nashville and studied politics at Georgetown University, experiences that shaped her understanding of the role of faith in American communities and the influence of the church in geopolitics worldwide. In 2019 she won three first-place awards from the Religion News Association in the categories of feature writing, magazine reporting, and religion-news analysis. She has spoken and participated in academic dialogue at leading universities across the United States, including Princeton, Columbia, the University of Chicago, Washington University in St. Louis and Notre Dame University.

In addition to The Atlantic, her work has been published in the New York Times and the Washington Post, and she has appeared on CNN, MSNBC and National Public Radio. She lives in New York City with her husband and newborn son.

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. 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.

Emma Green

Registration details for the 2020 Gotto Lecture will be announced this fall.