The Rev. Dr. John Burgess, James Henry Snowden Professor of Systematic Theology at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, has been awarded a Fulbright Fellowship and a Luce Fellowship.

Under the Fulbright Fellowship Burgess will travel to Russia this fall where he will teach at St. Tikhon’s Orthodox Humanitarian University and research the Orthodox Church’s resurgence in the country. Burgess is one of 25 Fulbright scholars who will spend time in Russia during the 2011-2012 academic year. The Luce Fellowship, awarded to seven scholars, will provide Burgess with the financial resources to extend his stay in Russia for six additional months and continue his research into the Orthodox Church and contemporary Russian culture. The Luce Fellowship will also allow Burgess to take additional sabbatical time to write up his research results when he returns home.

Russia spent almost 75 years under Communist rule. The Orthodox Church (and other churches), faced severe persecution. Though the Church was never destroyed, Russia became a secular society. Since the fall of Communism in 1991, however, the church has experienced enormous growth, new wealth, and political influence.

Burgess’ research will investigate the efforts of the Russian Orthodox Church through its narratives, symbols, and rituals to shape Russian national identity in the wake of the fall of Communism. Specifically, Burgess will examine Patriarch Kirill’s program of re-Christianizing Russia (votserkovlenie—literally, “in-churching”) and how major institutions in the Orthodox Church, including monasteries, church publishing houses, church-related universities, and parishes advance it. He will assess whether and in what respects “in-churching” will succeed and what the Russian experience teaches North American scholars about the role of religious revival in shaping national identity even in secular states.

Fulbright is the most widely recognized and prestigious international exchange program in the world, supported for more than half a century by the American people through an annual appropriation from the U.S. Congress and by the people of partner nations. The program—working with universities, schools, bi-national Fulbright commissions, government agencies, nongovernmental organizations and the private sector—actively seeks out individuals of achievement and potential who represent the full diversity of their respective societies and selects nominees through open, merit-based competitions.

The Luce Fellowship is among the most important awards in the theological world. The Luce Foundation’s Theology Program encourages the development of religious leaders through theological education, and fosters scholarship that links the academy to religious communities and other audiences. Support has focused on accredited seminaries and divinity schools in the United States, institutions that prepare leaders for religious institutions and the broader society.

Burgess has taught at the Seminary since 1998. Previously he was professor of religion at Doane College and associate for theology in the Office of Theology and Worship, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). He was awarded his B.A. from Colorado College, his M.Div. from McCormick Theological Seminary, and his Ph.D. in Christian theology from the University of Chicago. An ordained Presbyterian minister, Burgess has served several congregations part-time. His publications include The East German Church and the End of Communism, Why Scripture Matters: Reading the Bible in a Time of Church Conflict, After Baptism: Shaping the Christian Life, and numerous essays. He has edited In Whose Image: Faith, Science, and the New Genetics and co-edited What Is Justification About?: Reformed Contributions to an Ecumenical Theme. He is a member of the Re-forming Ministry Initiative of the Office of Theology and Worship, and a board member and a faculty mentor for the Company of New Pastors, a Lilly Endowment-funded program that assists Presbyterian candidates in the transition from seminary into ordained ministry.

Pittsburgh Theological Seminary is a graduate professional institution of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A). Founded in 1794, the Seminary is located in Pittsburgh, Pa. and approximately 320 students are enrolled yearly in the degree programs. The Seminary prepares leaders who proclaim with great joy God’s message of good news in both word and deed. PTS is rooted in the Reformed history of faithfulness to Scripture and commitment to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.