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Remembering Dr. Max L. Stackhouse, 1935-2016

The Rev. Dr. Max L. Stackhouse passed away at the age of 80 at his home in West Stockbridge, Massachusetts, on Saturday, January 30. After graduating from DePauw University and Harvard Divinity School, Dr. Stackhouse was ordained by the United Church of Christ and went on to be internationally recognized as a theologian in the field of Christian social ethics. After early involvement in the civil rights movement, he pioneered work in public theology, economics, globalization, and ecclesiastical concerns. Dr. Stackhouse’s writings and teachings spanned more than half a century and include approximately 500 articles, book reviews, and book chapters. He authored or edited 25 books, among them On Moral Business; Creeds, Societies & Human Rights; and his last major work, God & Globalization, a 4-part series sponsored by the Center for Theological Inquiry in Princeton, New Jersey. A Festschrift, Public Theology for a Global Society: Essays in Honor of Max Stackhouse, was published in 2010, followed by a book of essays, Shaping Public Theology: Selections from the Writings of Max L. Stackhouse in 2014, both by Eerdmans Press


Dr. Stackhouse held the Herbert Gezork Professorship at Andover Newton Theological School, where he was on the faculty for nearly 30 years before becoming the Stephen Colwell Professor of Christian Ethics, later the Rimmer and Ruth de Vries Professor of Reformed Theology and Public Life, at Princeton Theological Seminary from 1993 to 2006. Dr. Stackhouse held numerous international visiting professorships, with long-term relationships at United Theological College in Bangalore, India, China and South Korea, and within the former Eastern Block, with additional lecturing, conferences, and teaching in Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, Fiji, Thailand, South Africa, Taiwan, Australia, Brazil, Europe, and the United States.


Dr. Stackhouse served as president of the American Theological Society, the Society for Christian Ethics, and the James Luther Adams Foundation. He was instrumental in the founding and served as the director of the Abraham Kuyper Center for Public Theology at Princeton Theological Seminary, and was a founding member of numerous other groups, including the Reinhold Niebuhr Society, the Covenant Interest Group at the Society of Christian Ethics, and the China Academic Consortium, as well as the Berkshire Institute of Theology & the Arts, which he established with his wife, Jean Stackhouse, and led for 15 years. He was on the editorial boards of several journals, including The Christian Century, Journal of Religious Ethics, Journal of Political Theology, Religion in Eastern Europe, and Faith & International Affairs. He received a Leadership Award from the Center for Public Justice in 2007 and an honorary doctorate from his alma mater, DePauw University, in 1994. 


Locally, Dr. Stackhouse was an active member of the First Congregational Church of Stockbridge, an avid tennis player, music lover, and beloved spouse, father, brother, and grandfather. He was known for his sense of humor and generosity of spirit. He is survived by his wife, Jean Stackhouse, son Dale Stackhouse and daughter-in-law Robin Olds Stackhouse of Indianapolis, Indiana, son David and daughter-in-law Amy Stackhouse of Edgecomb, Maine, daughter Sara Stackhouse and son-in-law Johan de Besche of Arlington, Massachusetts, grandchildren Molly, Zachary, and Violet, and sister Judy Harris of St. Louis, Missouri. 


A memorial service will be held on February 13th at 3 p.m. at the First Congregational Church of Stockbridge. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in memory of Max Stackhouse to Covenant House (New York, Attn: Sandra Latchman, 461 Eighth Avenue, New York, NY 10001-1810); or the Michael J. Fox Foundation (Grand Central Station, PO Box 4777, New York, NY 10163).

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