Union Theological Seminary Student Life


Janet R. Walton

Janet Walton

Professor of Worship


3041 Broadway, AD 401
New York, NY 10027



Columbia University, Ed.D., 1979

Indiana University, M.M., 1971

Catholic University, B.M., 1967


Professor Janet Walton, graduated from Catholic University with the B.M. in 1967, and received the M.M. from Indiana University in 1971 and the Ed.D. from Columbia University in 1979. Professor Walton is a Past President of the North American Academy of Liturgy(1995-97), a Henry Luce Fellow in Theology and the Arts (1998), the recipient of a Henry Luce Travel/Research grant (1988),  the 2003 recipient of the AAR Excellence in Teaching award (2003) and the 2009 receipient of the Berakah Award, a lifetime award for distinctive work in worship given by the North American Academy of Liturgy. Professor Walton is a Roman Catholic and a member of the Sisters of the Holy Names, a congregation of catholic women.

Her publications include four books, Worship and Art: A Vital Connection, Sacred Sound and Social Change, co edited with Lawrence Hoffman, Women at Worship: Interpretations of North American Diversity co edited with Marjorie Procter-Smith and Feminist Liturgy: A Matter of Justice and many articles. The most recent articles include perspectives on hymnody, women’s ritual music, and active participation by congregations in worship. Presently she is co-editing a book entitled New and Borrowed Rites and beginning the research on a book entitled, Imagination, Improvisation and Imperialism.

Professor Walton’s teaching addresses varied aspects of congregational worship: its traditions, history, practices and emerging forms. In her research she focuses on the arts in worship, feminist perspectives and other marginalized people’s contributions to worshiping communities. As part of her teaching, Professor Walton invites artists from the city to join her both on campus and in their studios. Whether with Ralph Lee, puppeteer and theater director, Chris Wink of Blue Man Group, dancers in training at Juilliard, she provides many opportunities for students to work with artists to learn about skills of performance and aspects of creative processes that they can apply to their leadership of worship. 

In addition to incorporating artists within classes, Professor Walton also coordinates the program in theology and the arts at Union with Troy Messenger, Director of Worship. For students in any of the degree programs at Union who have professional artistic backgrounds, this program enables them to continue their artistic training alongside their theological study with artists in the city as mentors and advisors for their thesis. Painters, screenwriters, opera composers, photographers, dancers, film makers and novelists are regular mentors for them. For all students, the program provides possibilities to enjoy many artistic resources of New York City as a part of their theological training. 

Prof. Walton regularly leads and attends daily worship, and co-leads the “At Table” liturgies every month with Hal Taussig, a form of worship based on the Greco Roman meal that influenced the development of the Christian meal traditions. Together with Troy Messenger, Prof. Walton also works on all public events at Union that include any ritual components. Such events include convocations, commencements, presentation of Union medals, Faculty inaugurations and retirements, and rituals that are a part of any visiting groups such as the week-long presence of the Dalai Lama and the international peacemakers. For the past two years, Walton has also been a Faculty participant in the Poverty Initiative Program, where students and faculty are learning together how to integrate concerns about poverty in the curricular work of Union students and faculty. 

In her activities beyond Union Professor Walton regularly leads workshops, gives lectures, participates in varied seminars and professional programs, serves as a ongoing consultant for Christian and Jewish congregations, and as an external examiner for the University of West Indies. She travels frequently to many different countries, most often to a place where she can continue her study of Spanish and the Latino/a culture.


Introduction to Preaching and Worship (with Barbara Lundblad and Troy Messenger, Fall 2013)

Colloquium in Theology and the Arts (Fall 2013)

The Broad Jump Towards the Other (January 2014)

Seminar: Ritual and Early Christian Meals (with Hal Taussig, Spring 2014)

Seminar: Imagination and Improvisation: The Holy Play of Congregational Worship (Spring 2014)


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