About the JLA Foundation

A community engaging the intellectual and spiritual legacy of James Luther Adams in significant issues of our age — continuing his commitment to “taking time seriously.”

Mission Statement

The James Luther Adams Foundation seeks to cultivate a community of inquiry, conversation, and action engaging the distinctive voice and vision of James Luther Adams with contemporary religious, political, economic, and cultural concerns—concerns that are personally and institutionally formed and reformed through prophetic faith, democratic community, and ecological commitment.

What is the James Luther Adams Foundation?  We want to ensure that JLA’s intellectual and spiritual legacy is available to the rising generation of inquirers.  Adams liked to cite Goethe, “A tradition cannot be inherited, it must be earned.”  Neither can the legacy of JLA be passively inherited.  It must be earned through critical and creative engagement with contemporary concerns.  Join us in this endeavor!  

 After retiring from Harvard Divinity School Adams continued his tireless writing and voluminous correspondence.  A group of friends came together in 1977 to help provide much-needed secretarial and editorial support.  The James Luther Adams Foundation was created initially for this purpose, and it soon found wider purposes.  It carried the publication of Adams’s autobiography to completion; Not Without Dust and Heat was published shortly after his death in 1994.  It also undertook to preserve Adams’s priceless 8 mm films from Germany in the 1930s in video format; the resulting DVD, with commentary by Adams and Professor George H. Williams, is available from JLAF.

Since 1994 the Foundation has sponsored the annual James Luther Adams Forum on Religion and Society.  Held in academic, church, or community venues, the Forum has featured notable speakers from diverse faith traditions, including Rosemary Radford Reuther, J. Ronald Engel, Harvey Cox, Michelle Campagnolo Bouvier, and J. Bryan Hehir. The most recent the Forum presenters are Professors Sharon Welch (2018), in St. Paul, Minnesota, and Jared Aaron Farley (2019), at the University of New Mexico. 

In 2019 the JLAF expanded its Board and initiated new programs:

  • The annual JLA Lecture at the UUA General Assembly was revived  at the 2019 GA in Spokane.  Dr. Welch spoke on “The Soul of Democracy,” with responses by Dr. William Sinkford and Rev. Joanna Fontaine Crawford.
  • A new website, www.jameslutheradams.org, brings resources relating to Adams—works by and works about JLA, access to his archives at Syracuse and Harvard universities, texts of past JLA Forums and other writings, and extensive JLA bibliographies. 
  • We have opened an online space for “a community of dialogue on theology, democracy, and culture” through the Conversations section of the website, features significant texts, commentaries, and discussion around current issues.  Please take part in this unique endeavor by reading, responding, contributing.

The JLAF is building an online community for a liberal and prophetic theology, in the spirit and tradition of Jim Adams.  Subscribers to the website receive notices of new posts; go to www.jameslutheradams.org and click on Contact. 

JLAF Board: George Kimmich Beach, president; Norman Faramelli, treasurer; Robert Packenham, secretary; Judith Deutsch, Robert Kraig, James Stillman, Fred Wooden

Letter of Appreciation from the JLAF Board for Stephen Mott

Advisory Board: J. Ronald Engel, William Johnson Everett, Michael S. Hogue, Doris Hunter, Scotty McLennan, Susan Ritchie, Sidney Slobodkin, Jeffrey B. Speaks, Richard Boeke, Galen Guengerich, Ted Kraig

Staff: Christopher Walton, Webmaster; Robert Packenham, Web Associate