Dr. J. Michael Utzinger

Dr. John UtzingerElliott Professor of Religion
Atkinson, 305
(434) 223-6118


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.

Recently, Dr. Utzinger has completed an article on the role of religion in the Prince Edward County school closings, entitled "The Tragedy of Prince Edward: The Religious Turn and the Destabilization of One Parish's Resistance to Integration, 1963-1965." He continues his work on Prince Edward and is also completing a biography of Princeton Seminary professor Charles R. Erdman (1866-1960). 

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 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 serves on the Board of Directors for the Robert Russa Moton Museum for the Study of Civil Rights in Education and on the vestry of Johns Memorial Episcopal Church.  He participated on the Anti-racism Commission and currently sits on the Commission on Ministry for the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia.  At Hampden-Sydney, Dr. Utzinger has served as department chair of the Department of religion, Associate Director of the Honors Program (twice as Interim Director) and will serve as Associate Dean of the Faculty (2011-2014).