To support and strengthen the College's spiritual heritage, Elmhurst sponsors a group of annual religious lecture series. Each series focuses on a different faith tradition; as a group, they encourage the College community to come together to reflect on questions of faith.
The Niebuhr Lecture, which was launched in the early 1960s, honors two Elmhurst College alumni: Reinhold Niebuhr, Class of 1910, and his brother, H. Richard, who graduated in 1912 and served as president of the College in the 1920s. The Niebuhr brothers are considered to be among the foremost American theologians of the 20th century. Recent Niebuhr Lectures have featured Martin E. Marty, Richard Wollheim, and Robert N. Fisher.
The Joseph Cardinal Bernardin Lecture honors the late Cardinal Bernardin of the Chicago diocese, who died in 1996, 10 days before he was scheduled to speak at the College. The Bernardin Lecture brings prominent Catholic theologians to campus to discuss faith-related issues.
The Abraham Joshua Heschel Lecture is named for prominent Jewish philosopher and theologian Abraham Joshua Heschel, who played a significant role in both the civil rights movement and in Christian-Jewish dialogue. A colleague of theologian Reinhold Niebuhr in New York, Heschel was born in Poland and came to the United States in 1940.
The al-Ghazali Lecture honors the great Muslim scholar and theologian Abu Hamid al-Ghazali, who was born in Iran in 1058 but spent much of his life as a teacher in Baghdad and as a wandering ascetic. His prolific writings on religion, philosophy and sufism had lasting influence on scholars from a variety of faith traditions.
The Holocaust Guestship provides an opportunity for the College community to reflect on one of the darkest periods in human history in the context of the College's own heritage as a German institution and as a church-affiliated one. The Holocaust Guestship features speakers such as Christopher Browning, who has served as an expert witness in numerous Holocaust-related cases and is widely regarded as one of America's leading Holocaust historians.