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Dean of Wake Forest Divinity School to become president of Princeton Theological Seminary

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Susan R. Wente installation

The Rev. Jonathan Lee Walton, dean of the Wake Forest School of Divinity and Wait Chapel, speaks during the installation ceremony of Susan R. Wente as president of Wake Forest University in March.

The Rev. Jonathan Lee Walton, the dean of Wake Forest University School of Divinity, has been named the president of the Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, N.J.

The seminary announced Friday that Walton has been elected by its board of trustees to serve as its eighth president, according to the seminary’s website.

Walton, who will begin his duties Jan. 1, will succeed President M. Craig Barnes, who has served as Princeton Seminary’s president since January 2013, the seminary said.

“Theological education is at an inflection point,” Walton said. “The church is changing. Society is changing.

“So we need clear-minded, faith-informed professionals who can speak hope, equity, and healing in all fields of human endeavor,” Walton said.

Walton has served as the dean of WFU Divinity School since 2019, and he holds its presidential chair in religion and society.

Nathan Hatch, a Wake Forest University president emeritus, praised Walton.

“Dr. Jonathan Lee Walton has been a compelling and effective religious leader at Wake Forest — in the divinity school and the broader university,” Hatch said. “He has a most engaging presence and speaks with great insight about the most pressing issues of our day.”

Prior to joining Wake Forest, Walton 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.

Walton’s academic and administrative experience drew the attention of those involved in the search process, the seminary said.

“Dr. Walton’s profound commitment to scholarship and strong leadership experience perfectly position him to advance Princeton Seminary’s mission to serve as a vital and engaging hub for pastoral formation, Christian theology, and leadership generally,” said Michael Fisch, the chairman of the seminary’s board of trustees.

Walton received his doctorate in 2006 and his master’s degree in divinity in 2002 from Princeton Seminary, and his bachelor’s degree in political science from Morehouse College in 1996.

Walton is an ordained Baptist minister and a preacher. He is a member of the Humanities Advancement Council at Morehouse College and has served on the board of trustees at Princeton Seminary.

“This feels like a glorious homecoming showered with grace,” Walton said. “For over two decades, Princeton Seminary and the precious people that I’ve been blessed to know have enriched my intellectual and spiritual life.”

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