Nicole Kirk

Associate Professor, Rev. Dr. J. Frank and Alice Schulman Chair in Unitarian Universalist History
Ph.D., Princeton Theological Seminary
D.Min., Princeton Theological Seminary
M.Div., Vanderbilt University
B.A., Westminster College

Dr. Nicole Kirk is the first Rev. Dr. J. Frank and Alice Schulman Chair of Unitarian Universalist History.

Dr. Nicole Kirk is a historian of American religious history. She joined the Meadville Lombard faculty in 2012 after earning her Ph.D. at Princeton Theological Seminary. Her research interests include religion, business, technology, and material culture in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  

Her courses at Meadville Lombard include, among others, Religion on the Move, Call of the Wild: Nature and American Religion, History of Global Christianity, Leadership Studies, and Vocational Studies. She has traveled extensively and met with many of Meadville Lombard’s international partners in the Czech Republic, Japan, and Romania. Dr. Kirk enjoys advising students and assisting them on their formational path. A popular speaker, she gives lectures and sermons across the United States and internationally.  

Dr. Kirk’s first book, Wanamaker’s Temple: The Business of Religion in an Iconic Department Store (New York University Press, 2018), examines how and why John Wanamaker, the merchant prince, blended business and religion in his Philadelphia store, offering a historical exploration of the relationships between religion, commerce, and urban life in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and illuminating how they merged in unexpected and public ways. Wanamaker’s marriage of religion and retail played a pivotal role in how Protestantism was expressed in American life, and it opened a door for intertwining personal moral values with public commerce.  

In addition to her monograph, Dr. Kirk has published a chapter on black humanism for Anthony Pinn’s edited volume Humanism and the Challenge of Difference (Palgrave MacMillan, September 2018). She served on the editorial committee and made multiple contributions for the two-volume collection of primary documents, A Documentary History of Unitarian Universalism (Skinner House Press, 2017). She also contributed a chapter to the Blackwell Companion to American Religious History (expected 2020). She is currently working on a book tentatively titled Railroad Religions: The Religious Lives of Traveling People and focuses on the complex and surprising ways railroads transformed American religion and the people who traveled on the railroads.  

Before Dr. Kirk’s doctoral studies, she served as a parish minister for eight years in a congregation east of Cleveland, Ohio.