The Kay Butler Gill Lecture in Christian Spirituality, hosted by the seminary's Center for Christian Spirituality, is one of General Seminary's two named lectures. Now in its thirteenth year, the lecture heralds the place of Christian spirituality as a scholarly field within the theological academy.

The Jesus Prayer:  From Desert Contemplatives to Modern Urban Spirituality

Presented by The Very Rev. John A. McGuckin 
Thursday, April 7, 2016, 7:30pm

The Very Rev. John A. McGuckin, Ph.D., will present the Kay Butler Gill Lecture in Christian Spirituality at The General Theological Seminary on April 7, 2016, at 7:30 p.m. The lecture, entitled “The Jesus Prayer: From Desert Contemplatives to Modern Urban Spirituality,” will examine the origins of the Jesus Prayer in earliest Christianity, with monastic philosophers in the deserts of Egypt and Palestine developing the theory of the “Prayer of the Heart,” and will move on to late Byzantine ideas on the explicit role of the “sharpening” of new forms of consciousness (noesis) during prayer; and then will look at the role of the Jesus Prayer in late modernity and in contemporary forms of lay, urban asceticism.

McGuckin will also lead a 10-minute exercise demonstrating the communal Jesus Prayer in the Chapel of the Good Shepherd after his talk. Following the prayer experience, there will be a book signing with light refreshments.


For more information and to RSVP, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


John Anthony McGuckin is the Ane Marie and Bent Emil Nielsen Professor in Late Antique and Byzantine Christian History and Professor of Byzantine Christian Studies at Columbia University and Union Theological Seminary. He is an Archpriest of the Romanian Orthodox Church, and for over 30 years has taught in numerous European and American university settings. He is a specialist in early medieval Christian thought and history, and has published 25 books on topics ranging from New Testament history to Byzantine mysticism, several of which have won awards. He has long followed a special interest in the culture of monasticism. McGuckin is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society of Great Britain, and the recipient of the Romanian Order of St. Stephen, the Cross of Moldavia and Bukovina. He is the recipient of honorary doctorates from St. Vladimir’s Academy and Sibiu University.


The Kay Butler Gill lecture reaches scholars, graduate students, spiritual directors, clergy, and guests interested in topics of spirituality. Past lecturers have included Tilden Edwards, Roberta Bondi, Margaret Guenther, Martin Smith, Janet Ruffing, Robin Jensen, John Philip Newell, James Martin and Steven Charleston.

Kay Gill

Bringing eminent scholars and spiritual teachers to the seminary is made possible by donations to lecture's endowment, initially established by a generous grant from the estate of Kay Butler Gill, a graduate of General Seminary and the Center for Christian Spirituality.

Kay cared about the spiritual life: After her education and formation here for a ministry of spiritual direction, she spent many years serving the Episcopal Diocese of Maine, offering retreats and quiet days and holding, as she so eloquently described it, "spiritual conversations with others."

If you wish to contribute to the endowment, click here and choose to designate your gift to the Center for Christian Spirituality in memory of Kay Butler Gill.

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