PLANO, Texas – “Explaining Mormonism to the Media … and to Everyone Else” will be the title of a fireside talk that will be given next month in Plano by Jan Shipps, Ph.D. The Plano Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in conjunction with the DFW Management Society, is sponsoring this fireside on February 13, 2005 at the LDS Building located at 2401 Legacy Dr., Plano, TX.

Jan Shipps has been described as “…that celebrated Mormon watcher” by Elder Dallin H. Oaks. She wrote Sojourner in the Promised Land: Forty Years Among the Mormons in 2000 and Mormonism: The Story of a New Religious Tradition in 1985. Sojourner in the Promised Land won the Best Book award from the Mormon History Association in 2000. She also was senior editor for a project that resulted in the publication of the earliest Mormon journals that have ever come to light. The Journals of William E. McLellin, 1831-1836, jointly published in 1994 by the University of Illinois Press and BYU Studies, was a result of that project.  She served as the first non-Mormon (and first woman) President of the Mormon History Association and is currently the President of the John Whitmer Historical Association.

She is a Professor Emeritus of History and Religious Studies in the Indiana University/Perdue University Indiana School of Liberal Arts, where she held a joint appointment in history and religious studies for a quarter of a century. She was also founding co-editor of Religion and American Culture: A Journal of Interpretation, and for ten years served as director of the IUPUI Center for American Studies. For five years, she was co-director of a project on Religion and American Culture that proved to be the forerunner of the IUPUI Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture.

She attended Alabama College (now the University of Montevallo) in 1946 and again in 1947-1948. She earned a B.S. in History from Utah State University in 1961; an M.A. in History from the University of Colorado in 1962, and a Ph.D. in History from the University of Colorado in 1965.

Current and future projects include being the editor of Religion and Public Life in the Mountain West: Sacred Landscapes in Tension, a volume in the Religion and Region Series being put out by the Leonard E. Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion and Public Life at Trinity College. She also is writing See You in Church? Religion and Culture in Urban America, as part of a project on Religion in Urban Context funded by the Lilly Endowment, Inc.

During the fireside, she will describe how she figured out the best way to locate Mormonism on the religious landscape, taking all its theological complexity as well as its extraordinary social and institutional character into account.