As religious historian, Keith Watkins pays attention to patterns of faith, rituals that shape public life, and the practical life of religious institutions. His newest book (published in 2014) is entitled The American Church That Might Have Been: A History of the Consultation on Church Union. His graduate studies in Berkeley (Th.D. from Pacific School of Religion) focused on nineteenth-century liberalism and American religious studies.

During a 33-year career at Christian Theological Seminary , he specialized in the history and theology of Christian worship. His books Liturgies in a Time When Cities Burn, Faithful and Fair: Transcending Sexist Language in Worship, and Thankful Praise: The Eucharistic Norm of Christian Worship illustrate this interest. A continuing interest in religious history is evident in his 2009 book A Visible Sign of God’s Presence: A History of the Yakama Christian MissionCurrently, he working on his theological memoirentitled Eucharist and Unity.

As aggressive cyclist, Keith Watkins belongs to that tiny group of urban riders (probably not more than 2% in his city) who are willing to bicycle any place, any time, irrespective of conditions. Over half a lifetime, he has traveled on two wheels across much of the United States—in early years with members of his family, but for a quarter of a century as a solo rider. He pays attention to the interaction of geography, culture, and the issues of human life.

The result is a series of self-published, historically oriented monographs. Among them: ReEngineering the Engineered World: The Salton Sea by Bicycle, Bicycling Through Time on the Wilderness Road, and Sky Island Soliloquy (a winter’s ride in southern Arizona). In June 2010, he bicycled the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Towpath along the Potomac River and the Great Allegheny Passage, a journey from  Washington, D.C., to Pittsburgh. He continued westward on historic Route 40 to Indiana. Later in the summer, he joined PAC Tour’s expedition from Albuquerque to the Grand Canyon and back, 1,000 miles in two weeks. He has described the trip in Traveling through the Open Windows of Time.

14 Responses to About

  1. Kent Steinke says:

    Dr. Watkins… My name is Kent Steinke. I am the pastor of First Christian Church in Alliance, Nebraska. I have really been influenced by your 1966 Book The Breaking of Bread. After reading it in our congregation we are experimenting with bringing back the original Disciples’ Breaking of Bread service. I am wondering if a book has ever been compiled of 19th century Disciples communion prayers. We have been using the one that starts with, “In memory of his death this monumental table was instituted…” but I am hoping that our worship will reflect the flexibility that you talk about in your book. If you could give me some pointers I would appreciate it.

    • Scott Lachniet says:

      Keith, Wonderful commentary on your 85th. My recently celebrated 70th pales in comparison but was the most difficult so far for me. Your notes on the Tao have helped me shed my dark rumination. Although I doubt I will achieve the status of sage it helps me face my 8th decade with equanimity. Scott Lachniet

  2. Scott Lachniet says:

    Keith, I assume you are not really marooned in the Phillipines, so I am not sending money. Scott Lachniet

  3. I just found your blog and i love it! It’s so nice to find subsanitive commentary on Christianity and it’s practices, society and although I’m not a cyclist, cycling too. 🙂

    I’m including a link to my blog “Ikthos” , which started out as a conversation about what the word “Christian” means today. It’s been so heavily politicized packaged into a subculture, I’ve started self-identifying as a “believer” instead of “Christian” , because I don’t want the packaging… the “we think” mentality that’s so prevalent today.

    Here’s the link, http://ikthos-fvgaddis.blogspot.com/ and I would love to hear your comments.


    Felicia V. Gaddis

  4. Eric Liefeld says:

    Hi Keith. I’ve read your columns on W.E. Garrison with interest. I have information on Garrison’s life and times in Las Cruces, N.M. In fact, we will be showing his wonderful circa 1909 house shortly. Please get in touch by e-mail if you’d like to know more. Or come on down and we can go for a ride… 🙂


    Eric Liefeld

  5. dwighti911pdx says:

    Keith, are you by chance in Oregon?

  6. Dear Keith,
    I hope all is well.
    I came across your work recently while researching myself. I am pleased that we are on the same wavelength in terms of the spirit. Everything you write is very interesting.
    Here are the links to my web site and blog. Please feel free to contact me or comment upon my work. Thank you.
    I am pleased to make your acquaintance.
    Dr. Keith V. Watkins -Instructor
    Telephone 631.681.4823
    Fax 631.642.7431
    P.O. Box 817, Coram, NY 11727

  7. Kristina Garrison says:

    Hi Keith!

    Just thinking of you! Hope you are well:)

    Kristina (from Providence)

  8. Keith – It was a pleasure meeting you last weekend at my photography exhibit at the Art Baks on Mass Ave.
    “Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?” – Henry David Thoreau, Walden
    Our discussion, and your blog, are inspiring me to initiate my own blog – to help me learn to articulate what I see and capture with my eye, mind, and camera. Best regards, Darrell Staggs

    • Darrell: I too enjoyed the conversation, and I will use your cards with pleasure. I hope that your plan to develop a blog develops satisfactorily. Please let me know when it is up and running. Keith

  9. Deane Sobol says:

    Dear Dr. Watkins, I am gathering together a book of favorite prayers from our parishioners and staff here at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Norfolk, VA. I would like your permission to include the prayer “Christmas Confession” which appeared in your book “Thankful Praise”. I would be happy to send you more information; just contact me through the email address. I look forward to hearing from you.

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