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Lenoir-Rhyne University announces 2019-20 Lives Worth Living speaker series
Lenoir-Rhyne University announces 2019-20 Lives Worth Living speaker series

The Lenoir-Rhyne University Living Well Center for Vocation and Purpose will open its 2019-20 speaker series, Lives Worth Living, with a presentation by John Tirro, Monday, Oct. 21, at 7 p.m. in Grace Chapel. The event is free and open to the public.

The Rev. John Tirro is an Evangelical Lutheran Church in America pastor serving at St. John's Lutheran Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. He also serves as chaplain of Tyson House Congregational Life and Campus Ministry at University of Tennessee-Knoxville. In that role, Tirro oversees the ministries and activities at Tyson House, which exists to serve the spiritual needs of students, faculty, and staff of UT.

Prior to becoming a pastor, Tirro wrote country songs (Rascal Flatts, LeAnn Rimes, Diamond Rio, Bryan White), and he currently writes hymns, many of which may be heard at He earned a Master of Divinity from Yale Divinity School and a bachelor's degree in music from Yale University.

The Lenoir-Rhyne University Lives Worth Living speaker series continues with these dates and speakers as follows:

L. Gregory Jones
Monday, Jan. 27, 2020
7 p.m., Grace Chapel

A gifted speaker and author, The Rev. Dr. Gregory Jones is an ordained United Methodist pastor, and in 2018, was appointed dean of Duke Divinity School, where he is also a professor. Jones also serves as Senior Fellow of the Fuqua-Coach K Center for Leadership and Ethics at Duke University.

An editor-at- large for "Christian Century," Jones also writes regularly for "Faith and Leadership," the web magazine published by Leadership Education at Duke Divinity. He is dedicated to cultivating strategic and visionary leadership and innovation in partnership with individuals and institutions. His focus on leadership and innovation builds on his scholarly work in forgiveness and reconciliation as well as his years in leading Christian institutions.

He is the author of several books, including "Christian Social Innovation," the co-authored "Forgiving As We've Been Forgiven: Community Practices for Making Peace" and "Resurrecting Excellence: Shaping Faithful Christian Ministry." Jones earned his doctorate in theology from Duke University.

Eboo Patel
Thursday, April 23, 2020
7 p.m. P.E. Monroe Auditorium

Founder and president of Interfaith Youth Core, a national nonprofit working to make interfaith cooperation a social norm, Patel is the author of "Acts of Faith," "Sacred Ground," "Interfaith Leadership," and "Out of Many Faiths." For more than 15 years, Patel has worked with governments, social sector organizations, and college and university campuses to help realize a future where religion is a bridge of cooperation rather than a barrier of division. Named by U.S. News & World Report as one of America's Best Leaders of 2009, Patel served on President Obama's inaugural Faith Council.

Patel holds a doctorate in the sociology of religion from Oxford University, where he studied on a Rhodes scholarship. Currently, Patel spends most of his time on the road, doing what he loves: meeting students, educators, and community leaders to talk about the complex landscape of religious diversity and the power of interfaith cooperation in the 21st century. These details and more about Eboo Patel and Interfaith Youth Core are found at This event is co-sponsored by the Lenoir-Rhyne University Institute for Faith and Learning and Visiting Writers Series, with the Catawba Valley Interfaith Council.

For more information, visit or contact Mindy Makant, LR associate professor of religious studies and director of the Living Well Center, at or call 828.328.7188.

Established in 2018, the Lenoir-Rhyne University Living Well Center for Vocation and Purpose strives to engage students, faculty, and staff in the ongoing discernment of vocation and purpose. The Living Well Center for Vocation and Purpose hosts the speaker series: Lives Worth Living. Speakers, including theologians, bishops, artists, and advocates for justice, will share their vocational stories and encourage participants to think in new ways about what makes one's life meaningful and purpose-filled.