The Willard is an annual event that engages our faith tradition with relevant issues including social justice, human dignity, and inclusion. It is sponsored by The Willard Endowment of First Presbyterian Church, a fund that was established in memory of Charles R. Willard, Jr.

One Willard. Two Events. Five Renowned Speakers.

In 2022, The Willard will bring multiple voices to deepen and enrich the spiritual lives of its members and the Charlotte community as a whole.

Father Greg Boyle

Father Greg Boyle

Founder, Homeboy Industries

The Power of Extravagant Tenderness

January 9, 2022 | 5-6:30 pm | First Presbyterian Church Wood Fellowship Hall & Livestream

Father Greg Boyle is the Founder of Homeboy Industries, the largest gang rehabilitation program in the world. He will share his witness to the transformative power of tenderness to fight despair and remain generous and hopeful in a community struggling to overcome systemic poverty and violence.

Tickets for the in-person event are now sold out. You can join the waitlist or purchase a nonrefundable $5 ticket to watch the livestream of the event. All proceeds from livestream ticket sales go to support Homeboy Industries.

This event is sponsored by the Willard Endowment and the Catherine S. Grier Community Building Initiative.

TheoEd Charlotte

February 27, 2022 | 4-6 pm | Sandra Levine Theater at Queens University

TheoEd is an ecumenical speaker series that brings together leading thinkers in the church and the academy to give the talk of their lives in 20 minutes. TheoEd Charlotte will feature Otis Moss III, Yolanda Pierce, Liz Clasen-Kelly, and Miroslav Volf.  This event is brought to you by Emory’s Candler School of Theology and the Willard Endowment of First Presbyterian Church Charlotte, in partnership with Queens University.  Learn more at

Tickets are $20.

Liz Clasen-Kelly
Liz Clasen-Kelly

Chief Executive Officer of Roof Above

Liz Clasen-Kelly serves as the CEO of Roof Above, a comprehensive homeless services provider in Charlotte, NC that resulted from the merger of Urban Ministry Center and Men’s Shelter of Charlotte. In the last year, Roof Above expanded to meet community needs, adding significant emergency shelter capacity in light of the pandemic, and purchasing an existing apartment community and a hotel to convert to housing. Clasen-Kelly previously served as the Executive Director of the Men’s Shelter of Charlotte, where she led the effort to renovate its shelter campuses with a focus on human dignity. Previously, as the Associate Director of Urban Ministry Center, she oversaw the community’s street outreach efforts and served as project manager for the community effort to end chronic homelessness. She is a graduate of Davidson College and received her Master of Public Policy from Duke University. She is a proud member of a blended family, with four kids ranging from 8 to 24.

Rev Dr. Otis Moss III
Rev Dr. Otis Moss III

Trinity United Church of Christ, Senior Pastor

Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III is senior pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. He is a preacher, activist, author and filmmaker with an eye toward justice and equality, as evidenced through the gospel of Jesus Christ. He founded the Unashamed Media Group, a justice centered faith-based agency committed to producing and curating stories to inspire the heart and challenge the mind. Dr. Moss is ordained in the Progressive National Baptist Convention and the United Church of Christ.

Dr. Yolanda Pierce
Dr. Yolanda Pierce

Dean of Howard University School of Divinity and a Professor of Religion & Literature and Womanist Theology.

Dr. Yolanda Pierce is Professor and Dean of the Howard University School of Divinity in Washington, DC. She is the first woman to be appointed as Dean in the Divinity School’s 150-year history. In 2016, Pierce served as the Founding Director of the Center for African American Religious Life at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). Previously, she served as the Director of the Center for Black Church Studies and Associate Professor of Religion and Literature at Princeton Theological Seminary for 9 years. Pierce holds a Ph.D. and two M.A. degrees from Cornell University and undergraduate degrees from Princeton University.

Dr. Miroslav Volf
Dr. Miroslav Volf

Henry B. Wright Professor of Systematic Theology, and Founding Director, Yale Center for Faith & Culture at Yale University.

Professor Volf is the founding Director of the Yale Center for Faith and Culture. A member of the Episcopal Church in the U.S.A. and the Evangelical Church in Croatia, Professor Volf has been involved in international ecumenical dialogues (for instance, with the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity) and interfaith dialogues (on the executive board of C-1 World Dialogue), and is active participant in the Global Agenda Council on Values of the World Economic Forum. A native of Croatia, he regularly teaches and lectures in Central and Eastern Europe, Asia, and across North America. Professor Volf is a fellow of Berkeley College.

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