James K. Wellman, Jr.



Email: jwellman@u.washington.edu

Phone: (206) 543-0339

Mail:  Box 353650
         University of Washington
         Seattle, WA 98195


James Wellman is Associate Professor and Chair of the Comparative Religion Program in the Jackson School of International Studies. Teaching at the University of Washington since 2002, his areas of expertise are in American religious culture, history and politics.

Wellman’s most recent book, Rob Bell and a New American Christianity (Abingdon Press, 2012), explores one of the most well-known and controversial evangelical ministers in America. Bell, up until 2011, led a 10,000-member megachurch, and is now pursuing TV opportunities in Hollywood. Bell’s artistry as a preacher, his fearlessness in pursuing various forms of media, makes him an ideal person to examine the future horizon of American Christianity.

As Wellman wrote: "In this way, Bell is a postmodern evangelist--a slam poet, Billy Graham type, who beguiles with words, images, and ideas about a beautiful Jesus, whose stories transfix and transduce words into flesh, making incarnation the arbiter of all value."

Wellman’s other publications include an award-winning book, The Gold Coast Church and the Ghetto: Christ and Culture in Mainline Protestantism (Illinois, 1999); two edited volumes: The Power of Religious Publics: Staking Claims in American Society, with Bill Swatos (Praegers, 1999), and Belief and Bloodshed: Religion and Violence Across Time and Tradition (Rowman and Littlefield, 2007). His 2008 monograph, Evangelical vs. Liberal: The Clash of Christian Cultures in the Pacific Northwest (Oxford University Press), received Honorable Mention for the 2009 Distinguished Book Award by the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion.

Wellman has recently completed editing a volume with Clark Lombardi, called Religion and Human Security: A Global Perspective (Oxford University Press, 2012). This volume examines case studies of the impact of religious groups on the human security of diverse global populations.

His next book project, High on God: How the Megachurch Conquered America (Oxford University Press), is based on a national survey of twelve national megachurches, engaging quantitative and qualitative data from interviews with clergy and laypeople. The book explores the powerful affective forces within these congregations and is a fascinating portrait of the dominance of megachurches in American religious life.

Wellman is a Presbyterian minister. He lives in the Seattle area with his partner, Annette Moser-Wellman, and their two daughters, Constance and Georgia, whom Jim calls his  “bright and shining morning stars.”

Speaking Topics


-America’s Religious Culture Wars

-Global Religious Violence

-American Religion and U.S. Foreign Policy

-Change in American Protestantism


-Soulwork for Business Leaders

-Legacy Project for Leaders

-Respecting Religious Pluralism in the Workplace

-Business Ethics: Saving America and the World


-Renewing Religious Leaders

-Twenty-Four Ways to Renew the Church

-What Liberals and Evangelicals can learn from each other



Prof. Wellman is an innovative and accomplished scholar, a gifted teacher of undergraduates and graduates, and is one of the brightest gems among our faculty.”

~Prof. Martin Jaffee, Prof. of Jewish Studies, University of Washington

“Jim Wellman knows American religion. Not only that, he can relate current trends to historic trajectories in ways that illumine the big questions of life. Jim's provocative presentations and publications all explore how religious power blends with political, economic, and cultural power in potent, and sometimes explosive, compounds.”

~Prof. Jon Pahl, Prof. of American Religion, The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia 

Jim is an outstanding communicator and a highly accomplished academic. As the Director of the Spiritual Life Institute at Saint Martin's University, I hired Jim to act as a guest speaker based on his reputation at the University of Washington.  Not only did he meet my expectations, he exceeded them! Jim made a tremendous impact on our students, as their course evaluations can attest to, and I look forward to the possibility of working with him in the future.”  

~Ian Werrett, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, Saint Martin's University


Wellman is a dynamic speaker who is able to go to the core of leadership issues. He enabled our team to think deeply about their legacy and realize the future is always about possibility."             ~ Howard Behar, former president, Starbucks International

“Katherine Graham’s quote ‘To love what you do and feel that it matters; how could anything be more fun?’ reminds me of Jim Wellman. Jim's presentations are  like turning on a beautiful, bright, warm light that helps one’s brainwaves recharge and alter their path.  Jim’s unique capability to humorously and significantly connect the real world and various theological perspectives causes individuals and groups to walk away inspired and as importantly, clear about how to make a difference… in personal life, business or whatever matters.

~ Edna Morris, CEO/Range Restaurant Group, Managing Director/Axum Capital PartnersMorris


“Each time Jim speaks to our clergy and laity alike, he has transformed the audience by getting to the true heart of the great shift we now find ourselves in. He speaks clearly, and does so in a way that is disarming, but also challenging, which frankly is much needed. His presentations are based in real experience, both his own and his students; we ignore it at our peril.” ~ The Rt. Rev. Gregory H. Rickel, Bishop of Olympia, Washington

”You have to get this guy for a forum; he makes you proud to be who you are". ~ Jim Stockdale, Washington Association of Churches

”Yesterday was fantastic; you both instructed and provoked!  I got all kinds of praiseworthy comments and I am so grateful you invested your valuable time with us!” ~ Corey Schlosser-Hall, Executive Presbyter, Presbytery of North Puget Sound


“My mind is literally in pieces on the floor and will take a few months to recover; I mean that in the best possible way. This class was incredibly intellectually challenging.”

“This class was absolutely intellectually simulating—perhaps one of my favorite classes on campus. I feel, especially after this class that it is extremely important to understand the nature of different religions.”

“Prof. Wellman is very well-versed on the subject; he is a dynamic speaker and has a passion for scholarship.”

“Professor Wellman asked great questions that were intellectually stimulating; he also kept us awake with his good humor.”

have to get this guy for a forum; he makes you proud to be who you are". 


Associate Professor

Jackson School of International Studies

University of Washington

Associate Professor of American Religion

Chair, Comparative Religion Program


  1. JSIS Comparative Religion Program

  2. Luce Foundation

  3. Society for the Scientific Study of Religion

  4. American Academy of Religion