Princeton Seminary, largest theological school affiliated with the Presbyterian Church USA, picks first Black president

Rev. Dr. Jonathan Lee Walton

The Rev. Dr. Jonathan Lee Walton has been selected to serve as the eighth president of Princeton Theological Seminary.

Walton currently serves as the dean of the Wake Forest University School of Divinity in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where he also holds the Presidential Chair in Religion and Society. Prior to joining Wake Forest University, he served on the faculty at Harvard Divinity School and was the Plummer Professor of Christian Morals and the Pusey Minister in the Memorial Church of Harvard University. 

Trained as a social ethicist, Walton’s scholarship focuses on the intersection of evangelical Christianity, mass media, and political culture. He is the author of two books: “Watch This! The Ethics and Aesthetics of Black Televangelism” and “A Lens of Love: Reading the Bible in Its World for Our World.” He has written numerous articles for academic journals, books, magazines, and newspapers. His work has been featured in the New York Times, CNN, Time Magazine, and PBS.

Walton earned his doctorate degree in 2006 and his master’s of divinity degree in 2002 from Princeton Theological Seminary, and his bachelor’s degree in political science from Morehouse College in 1996. He is an ordained Baptist minister and preacher. He is also a member of the Humanities Advancement Council at Morehouse College and has served on the board of trustees at Princeton Seminary. 

“Dr. Jonathan Lee Walton is an inspired choice to be our next president. He is highly esteemed for his preaching, scholarship, and public witness to our faith,” said Princeton Seminary President M. Craig Barnes said of his successor. “As an alumnus and member of its board of trustees, he has long demonstrated his commitment to our Reformed heritage and its devotion to always being reformed by the fresh winds of the Holy Spirit. I am confident Dr. Walton will build on the mission of our community and boldly lead it into the next chapter of its service to the changing church, academy, and global work of Jesus Christ.” 

Princeton Seminary is the largest theological school that is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Founded in 1812, it is the second-oldest seminary in the United States. Walton will be the first Black president of the seminary. He will begin his new job on Jan. 1. Barnes, who has served as president since 2013, announced his retirement earlier this year.