Otago Lectureship partnership

The Threat of Religious Violence to a Democracy



























Otago Lectureship partnership

St John’s in the City has recognised the significant opportunities to share the Gospel of Christ in New Zealand by partnering with the University of Otago to foster critical theological engagement.

The Otago Lectureship is an extension of the University’s Centre for Theology and Public Issues and will interact with various networks in Wellington. It is based at St John’s with office and teaching space on site.

Goals for the partnership

  1. Represent a Christian voice in a University setting.
  2. Provide high-quality opportunities for learning Christian theology that are attractive to students.
  3. Offer leadership to encourage and equip church communities.
  4. Offer a public voice from a Christian perspective on public issues of the day.
  5. Offer public lectures and short courses.

The Lecturer

 Derek Woodard-LehmanDerek Woodard-Lehman has been appointed as the Lecturer as of June 2016.

Derek has come most recently from the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, where he was a Visiting Assistant Professor of Theology and Ethics.  He received his PhD in 2014 from Princeton Theology Seminary on ‘Freedom and Authority: The Ethics of Revelation in Karl Barth’.  Derek has experience across a decade of teaching undergraduates, seminarians, and doctoral students at Messiah College, Princeton University, Princeton Theological Seminary, and Lutheran Theological College. He has had leadership experience in academic administration and teaching.



Areas of specialisation

  • Theological and Religious Ethics
  • Political and Social Ethics
  • Interreligious Ethics and Comparative Theology (especially Jewish-Christian)
  • Critical Theologies (Feminist, Postcolonial, Liberation, Post-Holocaust)
  • Modern and Contemporary Social Theory

Areas of competence

  • African American Religion and Theology
  • World Religions and Global Christianities
  • Catholic Social Teaching
  • Modern Jewish Thought
  • Religion and Society

We support Derek in exploring the many and varied ways Christian theology can engage New Zealanders and the context we live in.  This vision began ten years ago and has been become an important and exciting part of St John’s mission, as well as a credible Christian witness in a context increasingly devoid of meaningful faith perspectives.  We hope you will support this vision into the future as we see what God will do with the opportunities we are pioneering.

Background to Theology Lectureship

St John’s in the City has partnered with universities for over a decade, recognising the possibilities an academic theological focus can contribute to society. This intentional approach enriches the church and wider community, and was something we wanted to continue to be committed to. In 2015, the Outreach Committee brought a recommendation to the St John’s Session to pursue a partnership with the University of Otago. They have a substantial Theology and Religious Studies programme, and are very interested in having a lecturer based in Wellington.

Principles for partnerships in this mission

  1. Offer authentic expression of our Christian identity and witness.
  2. Provide leadership for a venture that would be unlikely to happen without St John’s involvement and resourcing.
  3. Equip and encourage church communities and leaders in a meaningful way.
  4. Take the Gospel message into new areas, with credibility and authenticity.
  5. Make a recognisable difference in Wellington and beyond.

As well as strengthening theological teaching and expanding the availability for theological study in Wellington, a position based here would provide opportunities to further the work of The Centre of Theology and Public Issues.

The Centre of Theology and Public Issues was founded in 2009 and is the first research centre in New Zealand to examine political, social and economic issues from a theological perspective. The university of Otago wanted to base some of its activity in Wellington – as the seat of government and a city with vibrant Christian networks and public figures.

A partnership between the University and St John’s will make this happen. St John’s will:

  • contribute $25,000 from the Joan Andrews Special Fund and other donors from the congregation towards the annual salary for the lectureship
  • provide office space at St John’s and access to the St John’s Centre for events, lectures, and teaching days.

Additional financial support has been secured from third-party sources, which allows a full-time lectureship position to be established for an initial three-year period. Numerous applications were received from within New Zealand and from overseas. St John’s was represented on the appointment panel and took part in a robust appointment process. This resulted in choosing Derek  Woodard-Lehman as the Lecturer.

For more information, please contact Rev Allister Lane