Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Dr. Jon Pahl: Hagan Chair Ceremony November 27

Dr. Jon Pahl, Professor of History of Christianity and Director of MA Programs at The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (LTSP), is being awarded the Peter Paul and Elizabeth Hagan Chair at a special chairing ceremony on Tuesday, November 27, 2012. The ceremony is scheduled for 11:30 am in Benbow Hall, The Brossman Center, on the seminary campus, 7301 Germantown Avenue in the Mt. Airy section of Philadelphia. At the event, Dr. Pahl will present his inaugural lecture as Hagan Professor, which he has titled “Ending the Warfare between Business and Religion – Toward a New Social Gospel.” The ceremony and lecture are free and open to the public.

The Peter Paul and Elizabeth Hagan Chair is one of nine chaired professorships at LTSP that have been established to honor distinguished faculty, regardless of discipline. To be eligible to occupy one of these chairs, a teacher should have competed at least five years as full professor at the seminary. The Hagan Chair was established in 1952 to honor and remember seminary President Paul J. Hoh, who died on January 20, 1952. At the time of his death, his written wish was “I prefer that there be no memorial service and that there be no tablet, bronze or other material placed anywhere in my memory.” This explicit wish was respected by the Board of Directors, which at its meeting held on April 22, 1952, passed a resolution “humbly thanking God who gave him to us and to our Church.”

At the same meeting, the Hagan Professorship was established through the donation of an endowment by Dr. Peter Paul Hagan and his wife Elizabeth B. Hagan, who stated that “it be regarded as a memorial to Dr. Hoh and to his tremendous contribution toward the task of preparing better people for a better ministry for a better Church.”

Dr. Hagan was a Philadelphia carpet manufacturer and member of St John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Melrose Park. As a prominent and active Lutheran layperson, he served as vice-president of the seminary board, as a trustee of Tabor Home for Children in Doylestown, as treasurer of the Parish and Church School Board, and as a member of the Board of Pensions of the United Lutheran Church in America, a predecessor body to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, of which LTSP is one of eight seminaries. He was president of the Philadelphia Lutheran Inner Mission Society, and vice president of the Lutheran Laymen’s Movement for Stewardship. His gift to the Ministerium of Pennsylvania was Camp Hagan for girls at Shawnee-on-the-Delaware. He received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Muhlenberg College in 1945.

As part of his ongoing connections with our seminary, he inspected all buildings on the campus and led the campaign for a massive renovation in 1948, which cost (at that time) $200,000, one-fifth of which was contributed by Peter and Elizabeth Hagan. In honor of this generous act, the Gowen Mansion was renamed Hagan Hall. Dr. Hagan's death in 1959 was deeply mourned by a large host of family and well-wishers, including the seminary.

Dr. Jon Pahl joined the LTSP faculty after serving on the faculty of Valparaiso University. He  teaches classes at LTSP in American Religious History, Lutherans in America, Religion and Violence, Religion and Film, and many others, and has also served as Visiting Professor of Religion at Temple University, in Philadelphia, and as Visiting Professor of Religion at Princeton University. 

Dr. Pahl has published dozens of articles, essays, columns, and reviews; has appeared on media outlets from the BBC to ABC; and is author or editor of six books, most recently Shopping Malls and Other Sacred Spaces:  Putting God in Place (Wipf and Stock), and Empire of Sacrifice: The Religious Origins of American Violence (NYU). He has also appeared, along with his son, Justin, in the feature documentary film Malls R Us. He has enjoyed speaking with congregations and audiences from Ankara, Turkey to Anaheim, California.  He has lectured at Oxford and Cambridge Universities, Princeton and Purdue, and many others venues from Singapore to Kampala to Jakarata to Sydney. 

As Director of MA Programs, Dr. Pahl oversees the academic work of students interested in a Master of Arts degree.  He has been instrumental in developing a new specialization in "public leadership," bridging theological education with secular professions, especially social work or business. 

You can read more about Dr. Pahl online at

(This event was rescheduled from October 30 due to Hurricane Sandy.)

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