The Rev. Dr. Benjamin M. Stewart, Gordon A. Braatz Associate Professor of Worship, has been appointed director of the Zygon Center for Religion and Science (ZCRS), effective July 1.
“I am delighted that Ben will be leading the Zygon Center,” said Esther Menn, dean of academic affairs. “His scholarship and teaching bring together religion and science in organic and generative ways. I look forward to the new ideas and energy he will bring to ZCRS.”
Stewart said, “Zygon has a tremendous legacy in fostering scholarly conversations about the biggest questions humanity is asking, and I am profoundly honored to serve as the center’s fifth director.”
He highlighted the roles of science and religion in some of the most urgent questions of this era. “Look at race and racism, responses to the pandemic, and environmental justice,” Stewart said, “and you can see how religious and scientific ways of knowing have sometimes been crucial for progress and at other times needed serious correction and challenge.”
Stewart said he sees the Zygon Center as well-positioned for advancing these conversations in the coming years.
Stewart joined the LSTC faculty in 2009 and was installed as the Gordon A. Braatz Associate Professor of Worship later that year. Since 2016, he has served as director of advanced studies at LSTC. Effective July 1, 2020, Dr. Mark Swanson will now serve in this role.
Stewart is a leading scholar in the areas of natural burial practices as well as the connection between ecological and liturgy. His book, A Watered Garden: Christian Worship and Earth’s Ecology (Augsburg Fortress, 2011) calls for a sacramental approach to creation. He has published numerous articles and book chapters. He is a sought after speaker and presenter on topics related to ecology and liturgy.
Stewart holds a PhD in theology from Emory University’s Graduate Division of Religion, masters degrees from both the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (now United Lutheran Seminary) and Trinity Lutheran Seminary, and a BA from Capital University. Prior to his graduate study, Stewart served as pastor of a small congregation in the Appalachian region of Ohio, and of Holden Village retreat center in the Glacier Peak Wilderness of Washington, where he now serves on the board of directors.
About Zygon Center for Religion and Science
Established in 1988, Zygon Center is a partnership of the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago (LSTC) and the Center for Advanced Study in Religion and Science (CASIRAS). It is dedicated to relating religious traditions and scientific knowledge in order to gain insight into the origins, nature, and destiny of humans and their environment, and to realize the common goal of a world in which love, justice, and responsible patterns of living prevail. Seeking to harness religion and science together in this shared purpose, Zygon Center takes its distinctive name from the Greek word for “yoking” or “joining.” Zygon Center brings together scientists, theologians, philosophers, and other scholars to address basic questions and issues of human concern.
Assistant to the Academic Dean
The Lutheran School of Theology (LSTC) is dedicated to bearing witness to the good news of Jesus Christ. Based in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood, it is the leading urban Lutheran seminary training students for purposeful vocations in the global community. Aligned with its Lutheran heritage and built on a foundation of intellectual rigor, LSTC’s innovative, nationally recognized curriculum gives students skills for visionary Christian leadership in the public sphere.