Matthew Potts Appointed Harvard Pusey Minister

A successor leader of the Memorial Church

Matthew Potts portrait over photograph of Memorial Church in the background
Matthew Potts, Memorial Church’s new leaderPhotograph of Michael Potts by Evgenia Eliseeva; Photograph of Memorial Church courtesy of Wikimedia/Crimson400

Matthew Ichihashi Potts, professor of religious studies and literature, has been appointed Pusey Minister in the Memorial Church and Plummer professor of Christian morals, effective July 1. He succeeds interim minister Stephanie Paulsell, following Jonathan L. Walton's departure in 2019 to become dean of Wake Forest’s School of Divinity.

Potts, an Episcopal priest (he was an officer in the U.S. Navy and a college administrator before being ordained) who earned his undergraduate degree in English from Notre Dame, is a graduate of Harvard Divinity School (M.Div. ’08) and earned a Ph.D. in the study of religion in 2013. He has been a member of the faculty since then. As a scholar, he has used literature and literary theory to analyze Christian ethical and sacramental practices. He is writing a book about forgiveness.

According to the University announcement, Potts opted for conscientious-objector status after his naval service, and delivered a well-known Veterans Day sermon in 2019 that put the immigration crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border into the context of his own experience as the son of a Japanese woman who was raised during the American occupation of that country. His wife, Colette, is a family therapist; they have three children.

In a statement annoucing the appointment, President Lawrence S. Bacow said, “Matt is a gifted preacher who brings to the pulpit a deep appreciation and understanding of texts rooted in his own acclaimed academic work at the intersection of religion and literature. His incisive research and scholarly achievements are complemented by an extraordinary devotion to teaching, a commitment that has earned him the admiration and respect of students and colleagues across the University.”

Read the University announcement here.

Read more articles by: John S. Rosenberg

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