About William Johnson Everett

Life and Work

I grew up in and around Washington, DC, before moving to New England for further education (Wesleyan University, BA; Yale Divinity School, BD; Harvard University, PhD).

With my advanced degree in Christian social ethics, I then taught for over thirty years, first in Milwaukee, at St. Francis Seminary, then in Atlanta at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology, and finally in the Boston area at Andover Newton Theological School before retiring in 2001 to focus on writing and woodworking.

Sabbaticals took me to guest teaching in Berea, Kentucky; Heidelberg and Frankfurt, Germany; Bangalore, India; and Cape Town, South Africa.

William wearing blue cap and shirt with white vest

My earlier work in theology and ethics revolved around an exploration of the way faith images shape our relationships and organizational life. This effort spans the forty years from my college thesis on how faith images shaped the work of church leaders to my most recent publications on symbolism, ethics, and worship as well as my work in fiction and poetry.

Along the way I have used key organizing images such as that of the oikos (the ancient household), covenant, and public to understand the relation of religion to key social institutions, as well as ethical issues in ecology and in ritual life, both in the church and in society. My organizational work has been devoted to the education of religious leaders, the fostering of Christian participation in public life, and cultivation of public structures for reconciliation and restorative justice.


I have written extensively on church and society issues involving family, economics, ecology, politics, symbolism, and law. Publications include God’s Federal Republic: Reconstructing our Governing SymbolReligion, Federalism, and the Struggle for Public Life: Cases from Germany, India, and America.

These interests in political ethics were taken up in a subsequent book, The Politics of Worship, which explores the significance of political models for contemporary worship. A complete publication list and other information can be found at my blogsite WilliamEverett.com.

Recent Writings

After retirement in 2001 I wrote a poetic “eco-historical” novel entitled Red Clay, Blood River, which weaves several strands of Sylvia’s family history in England, America, and South Africa around the coincidental events of South Africa’s “Great Trek” and the Cherokee American’s “Trail of Tears” in 1838. Both were expressions of European domination the people and resources of foreign lands, the consequences of which we are still struggling with today.

I then turned back to my long-time interest in poetry, compiling my first collection in 2013 as Turnings: Poems of Transformation. Following that I put together a book of reflections with my South African theologian-woodworker friend John de Gruchy entitled Sawdust and Soul: A Conversation about Woodworking and Spirituality.

In 2017 I finished a book of photos, memoir, and reflections based on the experiences of my mother’s family for two years on the island of Cyprus, where her father was in charge of the world’s oldest copper mine in 1923-25, entitled Mining Memories on Cyprus 1923-1925.

Making My Way in Ethics, Worship, and Wood – An Expository Memoir was written in 2021. This exposition of my thoughts ranges from construction of frameworks for relating Christianity to the behavioral sciences to substantive engagement with concepts of covenant and constitutionalism, the oikos of work, family, and faith, and ecological and restorative justice.

A Covenantal Imagination – Selected Essays in Christian Social Ethics (2022). This collection of my essays from 1971 to 2003 traces the main contours of the development of my thought. At the core of this development has been the rich concept of covenant, with its many expressions in theories of federalism, the dynamics of reconciliation, and ways of knitting together our “oikos” of work, family, faith, and the land.

My Woodworking

In the year 2000 I made a round communion table for the chapel at Andover Newton Theological School. This expressed my commitment to the reconciling power of circular gatherings in worship and negotiation. Since then I have made other pieces of worship furniture, household pieces, and woodturnings. You will find them in my galleries on this web site.

In my woodworking I try to expose the internal beauty of the woods, mostly drawn from the forests immediately around me – walnut, maple, cherry, ash, butternut. On that base I then employ both mosaic and more exotic woods to introduce elements of symbolism and artistic enhancement. The result I try to achieve is both simple and refined, light enough to reflect the spirit, strong enough to endure the needs of usefulness. I am still learning, thanks to the patient help of many friends.