Dr. J. Michael Utzinger

Dr. J. Michael UtzingerElliott Professor of Religion
Maples, 023
(434) 223-6313


Ph.D., University of Virginia, 2000; M.Div., Yale University, 1993; B.A., Valparaiso University, 1990.

Dr. Utzinger is Elliott Associate Professor of Religion.  He was a Lilly Fellow for the Arts and Humanities (1999-2000) and carries a Ph.D. in Religious Studies from the University of Virginia (2000), an M. Div. from Yale University (1993) and a B.A. in Theology from Valparaiso University (1990).  While at Hampden-Sydney he received the 2010 Cabell Award for Excellence in Teaching and was named the William W. Elliot Associate Professor of Religion in 2011.

Dr. Utzinger's research interests include Modern American religion, particularly American Evangelicalism, African American religion, and religion and the Civil Rights movement.  His book, entitled Yet Saints Their Watch Are Keeping: Fundamentalists, Modernists, and the Development of Evangelical Ecclesiology, 1887-1937 (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 2006), examines the idea of the church, or ecclesiology, within the Northern Protestant establishment.  He argues that evangelical ecclesiology was characterized by denominational ambivalence. This ambivalence meant that, while Northern Protestants valued their denominational affiliations, they also had no compunction to work outside of them.  His study shows that, despite their infighting, evangelicals typically found ways to cooperate with one another in order to preserve their denominational institutions. In other words, the controversies' results were not only contention but compromise. And, rather than indicating the eclipse of denominationalism, fundamentalism and modernism acted to revitalize those institutions and help them persist.

Dr. Utzinger's article, entitled "The Tragedy of Prince Edward: The Religious Turn and the Destabilization of One Parish's Resistance to Integration, 1963-1965" in Anglican and Episcopal History (June 2013) was awarded the Nelson R. Burr Prize.  Each year the Historical Society of the Episcopal Church awards the Nelson R. Burr Prize to the author of the most outstanding article in the last published volume of the Society's quarterly journal, Anglican and Episcopal History. It also honors that which best exemplifies excellence and innovative scholarship in the field of Anglican and Episcopal history.  He continues to research and study religion and massive resistance in the 1960s. 

Other select academic and popular publications include: "Faith That Kills?  Reflections on Religion after 9/11" in James Old and John Paul, edFor the Whole of Creation: Christianity and Scholarship in the Public Square, the Guild, and the Church (Valparaiso, IN: Valparaiso University Press, 2010); "Post-Roddenberry Star Trek" with Robert H. Blackman, The Cresset (Michaelmas, 2009); "Review Symposium of Mark A. Noll and Carolyn Nystrom's Is the Reformation Over?"  Horizons 34:2 (Fall 2007):  332-357; "The Third Angel's Message for My People: Charles M. Kinny and Founding of Seventh-day Adventist Missions among Southern African-Americans, 1889-1895" Fides et Historia 30:1 (Winter/Spring 1998): 26-40, and "Our Anxious Grief: A Christian Response to Death" New Theology Review 11:4 (November 1998): 53-60.

Utzinger serves as moderator of the Southeastern Colloquium on American Religious Studies (SCARS), which brings together scholars from Virginia, North Carolina, and the District of Columbia to examine issues surrounding religion in the United States. He is also the Secretary of the Historical Society of the Episcopal Church and a contributing editor for the blog "Religion in American History": http://usreligion.blogspot.com/.  He sits on the Community Board for the Robert Russa Moton Museum for the Study of Civil Rights in Education.   He previously served on the vestry of Johns Memorial Episcopal Church, as well as the Anti-Racism Commission and the Commission on Ministry for the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia.  At Hampden-Sydney, Dr. Utzinger currently serves as chair of the Department of Religion and held the posts of Associate Director of the Honors Program (twice as Interim Director) and Associate Dean of the Faculty (2011-2014).