Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel

Dean of the Chapel


B.A., M. Div., S.T.M., Ph.D., D.D., D.H., D.R.S., D.H.C ., Mult.  
Dean, Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel
Professor of Religion, College Archivist and Curator
Founder, Gandhi, King, Ikeda Institute for Global Ethics and Reconciliation
Director, Martin Luther King Jr. College of Pastoral Leadership

In 1958 Martin Luther King Jr. privately recruited Lawrence Edward Carter as a 10th grader to come to Morehouse College. Twenty-one years later, Lawrence Carter became the first Dean of the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel in 1979. Today he is a tenured Professor of Religion and College Archivist and Curator at Morehouse College. For fifty-six years, Carter has studied and worked in fourteen American universities, colleges, and professional schools, spoken at over one hundred different colleges, universities, and seminaries, and received more than one thousand speaking engagements from eighteen Christian denominations, including Jewish, Islamic, Hindu, and Buddhist communions, and traveled to thirty-eight foreign countries. He has made more than a hundred radio and television appearances, including continent wide in Africa, Australia, Canada, China, India, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Oceania, Singapore, South Africa and the United Kingdom.

Lawrence Carter was born in Dawson, Georgia and reared in Columbus, Ohio. He holds the B.A. degree from Virginia University of Lynchburg in Social Science and Psychology, the M.Div. degree in Theology, the S.T.M. degree in Pastoral Care, and the Ph.D. degree in Pastoral Psychology and Counseling from Boston University.  He did further study at Andover Newton Theological School, The Ohio State University, Harvard University, Georgia State University, New York University, The University of Wisconsin at Madison, Brown University, Spelman College and George Washington University.  He holds certifications in multidisciplinary clinical training, clinical pastoral education, the editing of historical documents, and community nonviolent training.  He is also a licensed and ordained American Baptist minister.  He was a 1994 Fulbright-Hayes Scholar in Brazil, and twice a National Endowment for the Humanities fellow in 1993 and 1996.

Currently, Carter teaches Introduction to Religion, Psychology of Religion, Religion and Ethics, World Religions and The Life and Thought of Mohandas K. Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and Daisaku Ikeda at Morehouse College. He has also taught Introduction to Spirituality and Health at the Morehouse School of Medicine.  From 1982 to 2000, he lectured annually at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta on "Campus Ministry."  From 1996 to 2002, Carter was a Summer Visiting Professor at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine.  Each year at Bates he led a seminar at the Benjamin Elijah Mays Institute.  While a member of the Boston University staff, he served as Baptist Counselor, Residential Counselor, Executive Director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Afro-American Cultural Center, and Associate Dean of Daniel L. Marsh Chapel.  At the Harvard University Divinity School, he team-taught a course on “Orientation to Ministry.”  Later he served as Coordinator of Afro-American Studies at Simmons College.

Scholars Press published Carter’s Centennial Festschrift, honoring Benjamin Elijah Mays, Mercer University Press published the second edition in paperback titled, Walking Integrity: Benjamin Elijah Mays as Mentor to Martin Luther King, Jr. Weatherhill Press published Carter’s Global Ethical Options, in the Tradition of Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Daisaku Ikeda first edition in 2001. An Indian edition was published by Gandhi Media Centre, in New Delhi and Madurai, in 2005. Carter’s fifth and sixth books, titled Being Peace, The Thing Itself- In the Tradition of Gandhi, King and Ikeda will be published by Culture of Peace Press; The Baptist Preacher’s Buddhist Teacher: How My Interfaith Journey With Daisaku Ikeda Made Me A Better Christian to be published by Middleway Press. Fifty-seven of  Carter’s articles  have appeared in: The Journal of Peace and Policy, Dialogue of Civilizations for Global Citizenship, The Journal of The Interdenominational Theological Center, The Journal of Pastoral Care, The Howard University Journal of Religious Thought, Black Family Magazine, The Oracle, Nexus, Freeing the Spirit, Boston University Currents, Morehouse College Bulletin, The Washington Post, The Atlanta Inquirer, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The National Baptist Voice, Atlanta University’s Phylon, The Boston Globe, The Journal of African Civilizations, World Tribune, Seikyo Shimbun, The Journal of Oriental Studies in Japan, and Living Buddhism, Science of Mind Magazine, Gekkan Pumpkin, Focus, World Tribune, the Journal of the African-American Pulpit, the Journal of Speculative Philosophy, News Magazine Korean, and Monthly Joins Magazine of Korea. Carter has also published at the invitation of the National Council of Churches of Christ, U.S.A.

Lawrence Carter is the recipient of and administrator for numerous budgets, fellowships, gifts, grants, and an endowment.  At the request of Carter, the National Council of Churches established an Ecumenical AmeriCorps Scholarship Awards Program at King Chapel in 1998.  He solicited from the National Baptist Convention, U.S.A., Inc. a gift of one hundred thousand dollars to erect the only statue in the state of Georgia honoring Martin Luther King Jr., on the Plaza of the King Chapel at Morehouse College. He also designed the burial memorials at Morehouse for Howard and Sue Bailey Thurman, Benjamin and Sadie Grey Mays, Hugh M. Gloster, and four tribute memorials to Martin Luther King Jr.  He has organized and funded twelve national conferences at Boston University, Morehouse College, and in Abyssinian Baptist Church in New York City.  For thirty-eight years he has coordinated the Annual Science and Spiritual Awareness Week with its MLK Jr. College of Ministers and Laity. In 1983 he brought the first Nile Valley Conference to the American Academy at Morehouse, where Cheikh Anta Diop received the only honorary degree of his lifetime. In 2009 the Eli Lilly Endowment gave the King Chapel two million fifty thousand dollars for the Program for the Theological Exploration of Vocation. The twenty-seventh anniversary of the Nile Valley Conference was held September 21-24, 2011, with fifteen international speakers. And, in September 2011, the second Nile Valley Conference with international lectures was hosted at Morehouse. In 2014, the King Chapel received a half million dollars from the Lilly Endowment to launch an Early Career Pastors Leadership Development program. In 2015 the Lilly Endowment awarded the Chapel six hundred thousand dollars for a grant titled WorldHouse Academy: a Morehouse College Theology Institute for High School Youth.

Carter is the founder and sole fundraiser for Morehouse College’s International Hall of Honor that consists of over two hundred original oil portraits of distinguished leaders in the civil and human rights nonviolent movement globally.  The portraits by artists Ho Eun Chung and Dwayne Mitchell are valued at over nine-hundred thousand dollars.  Carter also founded the five-hundred member Martin Luther King, Jr. Chapel Assistants Pre-seminarians Program at Morehouse in 1979.  He has raised over two hundred fifty thousand dollars in scholarship funds for the Morehouse Chapel Assistants.  On April 1, 2000 he founded the Gandhi King Ikeda Institute for Global Ethics and Reconciliation on Millennium Sunday, unveiling larger-than-life busts of Mahatma Gandhi and his wife Kasturbai, gifts from the people of India. 

On Century Sunday, April 8, 2001, the Inaugural Gandhi-King-Ikeda Community Builder’s Prize of the Morehouse Chapel was conferred on His Royal Highness Prince El Hassan bin Talal of Jordan and a two thousand-square-foot legacy of peace traveling exhibition on Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. Martin Luther King, and Dr. Daisaku Ikeda and others was dedicated on March 31, 2001. On May 3rd, Carter delivered the Founding Address for the one billion dollar undergraduate campus of Soka University of America in Aliso Viejo, California, and the inaugural lecture titled, “Growing Up Into Democracy’s Crown.” He is also a member of the Board of Trustees of Soka University of America and was a member of the Board of Visitors of the Mercer University School of Theology, 2001 to 2003. He delivered one of the three founding addresses of the Wake Forest University Divinity School In 1996.

Carter has received over one hundred honors and recognitions, including having been voted Faculty Member of the Year for 1985 by the Morehouse College student newspaper; a member of the 1986 Class of Leadership Atlanta.  Six times he was elected as a delegate to international religious assemblies and selected as a Bible Study Leader for the Sixth Assembly of the World Council of Churches, Vancouver, Canada, 1983.  He was a delegate to the Eleventh Baptist Youth World Conference of the Baptist World Alliance in Glasgow, Scotland in 1988, and has received five honorary doctorate degrees in Divinity, Humanities, and Religious Studies from his alma mater (Christian), Lewis University (Roman Catholic), Al al-Bayt University (Muslim) in Jordan, Soka University (Buddhist) of Japan and Christian Theological Seminary. On November 4, 2008 Carter received the Seikyo Award of Highest Honor, previously presented to Mikhail Gorbachev. On May 29, 1993, Carter was elevated to the degree of Sublime Prince, 32nd degree of the Prince Hall Masons by the Atlanta Consistory and is a member of the W.C. Thomas Lodge.  He has been recognized for singly researching and selecting the site of the new historic Ebenezer Baptist Church edifice on Auburn Avenue in Atlanta, Georgia.  He is also a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., since 1974.  In 2001 and 2004, Carter was a delegate to the Second and Third Synthesis Dialogue in Trent, Italy and Castel Gandolfo, Italy, respectively, dialoguing with the Dalai Lama of Tibet, convened by The Association of Global New Thought.  Carter was a speaker at the 2004 Council of the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Barcelona, Spain, the Club of Rome and the Arab Thought Forum in Amman, Jordan in 2004.  September 11-16, 2005, Carter was a keynoter and consultant at the Oxford Conclave on Global Ethics and the Changing University Presidency at Balliol College, the University of Oxford, Oxford, England. He was a 2008 recipient of the Trumpet Award for Spirituality. Carter is a member of the Boards of Directors of the Academy of Preachers and the Institute for Religion and Public Policy. In 2010 he was named a member of The History Makers by the Chicago based institution. Since 2010, he has been a member of the Board of Directors of the American Baptist Historical Society. In September of 2011 he was invited to join the Board of Advisors for Educational Professionals at the Fetzer Institute in Kalamazoo, Michigan. On October 9, 2011 at the 125th Annual United Supreme Council, Carter was elevated to thirty third degree of the free and accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, Southern Jurisdiction, Prince Hall Mason, of Atlanta, Georgia. October 10, 2011 he was nominated to be elected to the Board of Trustees of the Council for the Parliament of the World’s Religions. Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs Maria Otero, Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Suzan Johnson Cook, and Director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Community Partnerships Joshua DuBois invited Carter to be a member of Secretary Hillary Clinton’s Strategic Dialogue with Civil Society, serving on the Working Group on Religion and Foreign Policy: International Religious Freedom: Advocacy to Combat Religious Based Violence and Human Rights Abuse Subgroup, October 18, 2011 through October 18, 2012.

Carter is married to Dr. Marva Griffin Carter, a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois, with Masters Degrees from Boston University and New England Conservatory. Her Bachelor’s degree is from the Boston Conservatory. Dr. Carter is currently a tenured Associate Professor of Music History, Popular Music and World Music at Georgia State University where she also served both as Assistant Director of the School of Music and Director of Graduate Studies in the School of Music.  The Carters are the parents of one son, Lawrence Edward Carter, Jr.  Their son is a sixth-generation Georgian and a graduate of Morehouse College in Economics with a minor in International Affairs. He has also studied at the London School of Economics and received his M.B.A. degree in International Business from Strayer University in May of 2014, with honors.

Download a partial history of Dean Carter Speaking Engagements in PDF format.