The Blakley Program for Evangelical Studies was made possible by a generous gift from Thomas Blakley (1925 - 2000). Mr. Blakley was a General Electric engineer who after retirement earned a degree in religion at Roanoke College. Throughout his adult life, he was active in Southwest Virginia churches, schools, and civic life. The Program reflects his desire to contribute to the expression of faith perspectives in the public square. The Program is under the direction of Dr. Gerald R. McDermott, Jordan-Trexler Professor of Religion.
Since its inception in 2004, the Blakley Program has helped sponsor the following events:
- A lecture series by evangelical theologian John G. Stackhouse, Jr., "Christ and Culture--Hostile or Friendly?" (2005)
- A lecture series by historian Mark Noll, "The Explosion of Christianity in the Global South" (2006)
- A lecture series by New Testament scholar N.T. Wright, "Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead?" (2007)
- A lecture by historian Harry S. Stout, "The Religion of Jamestown--the First Puritan Settlement" (2007)
- A debate between Richard Cizek (National Association of Evangelicals) and Thomas Derr (Smith College) on global warming (2008)
- The publication of McDermott's Oxford Handbook of Evangelical Theology ( November, 2010)
- Public dialogue by McDermott with Rabbi Dr. Eugene Korn: "What can Christians and Jews learn from each other?" (January 27, 2011). Dr. Korn is the American Director of The Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation in Israel, where he co-directs the Center's theological activity and its Institute for Theological Inquiry.
- Lecture series by McDermott on spiritual discernment given to 150 Cuban pastors in Camaguey, Cuba (April 2011)
- Keynote lecture (and other delivered papers) by McDermott at a Jonathan Edwards conference in Wroclaw, Poland (May 31 and June 1, 2011)
- Lecture by McDermott on Edwards and literature in the American Studies Department at the University of Krakow, Poland (June 2, 2011)
- The research for and upcoming publication of McDermott's co-authored The Theology of Jonathan Edwards (Oxford University Press, October 2011). This will be the largest-ever single volume published on the thinker widely regarded as America's greatest religious mind.