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Adult Education

Our Mission

Lee Institute

In 1995, Ladue Chapel established the Lee Institute in response to a gift from E. Desmond Lee. The Institute, supported by an endowment from the Lee Foundation and by Ladue Chapel, seeks to provide stimulus and education for persons in the Ladue Chapel congregation and the Greater St. Louis community in order to:

  • Foster spiritual and religious growth;
  • Create public awareness of critical issues; and
  • Inspire futher study, action and service that can make a difference in the world.

The Lee Institute Speaker Series is free & open to the public. We are a handicap accessible facility.

All events are held at Ladue Chapel Presbyterian Church.   For more information on a particular event, or to be placed on the Lee Insitute mailing list, please leave a message for the Executive Director of the Lee Institute at 314-993-4771, ext. 3111 or you may use our convenient online form.


Discussion generated by latest speaker:

Link to Dr. Afridi interview on St. Louis Public Radio – St. Louis on the Air with Don Marsh podcast and article – March 31.
Link to Beacon article by Patricia Rice referencing Dr. Afridi’s visit to St. Louis and speech for the Lee Institute.

Monday, March 31 at 7:30 p.m.

The Lee Institute Speaker Series


Dr. Mehnaz M. Afridi

 Assistant Professor of Religion and

Director of the Holocaust, Genocide, and Interfaith Education Center

at Manhattan College

 Mehnaz Afridi


Contemporary Issues of Muslim Women

How is the practice of Islam shaped by culture and national ideas in the lives of Muslim women? Dr. Afridi will address issues stemming from misinterpretation of faith, cultural “norms,” and ignorance.  She will also discuss the two very different cases of Malala Yousafzai and Ayann Hirsi Ali. With references to the Qur’an, her lecture will focus on human rights as a part of Islamic principles, and how misinterpretation has created conflict.

A Muslim committed to interfaith dialogue and Holocaust education, Dr. Afridi has studied Judaism and Jewish history, interviewed Holocaust survivors, and visited Dachau to pay respects and pray. Her interests include contemporary Islam and gender issues within Islam. She teaches courses on Islam, Judaism, women and religion, world religions, genocide studies, and Arab and Israeli literature. Her forthcoming book, Shoah through Muslim Eyes (Academic Studies Press), will be published this spring.

In the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Voices on Antisemitism podcast, Dr. Afridi expresses her intolerance of antisemitism in terms of her Islamic principles and sense of ethics.

Born in Karachi, Pakistan, and raised in Europe and the Middle East, Dr. Afridi brings a multicultural perspective to her work. She completed a bachelor and a master of arts at Syracuse University, and received a PhD from the University of South Africa. She lives in Bronxville, New York, with her husband and seven-year-old daughter. 

45-minute presentation followed by Question and Answer Discussion and Reception

 Ladue Chapel Presbyterian Church

9450 Clayton Road, Ladue, MO 63124  (314) 993-4771  x 3111

The program is free and open to the public.  No reservations are needed – Seating is open.

For a printable flyer, click on this link: Mehnaz Afridi flyer


Save The Date

Monday, October 20, 2014 at 7:30 p.m.

The Lee Institute Speaker Series


Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber

Founding Pastor of House for All Sinners and Saints – a Lutheran church in Denver, Colorado

and author of Pastrix: the Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint (2013)

and Salvation on the Small Screen? 24 hours of Christian Television (2008)




The Lee Institute is mentioned in Talia Leman’s book,  A Random Book About The Power of ANYone for it’s involvement in“The BIG Return St. Louis” which offered St. Louis area youth an opportunity to make a difference in the community and the world!  Complete information on “The BIG Return St. Louis” can be found at

The Big Return 2012 pilot program began in St. Louis with 247 youth. Area corporations invested in their ideas for a better St. Louis, and their City Government supported their initiatives. In a mere four months time …..

25,000 students were rallied and engaged, 813 teachers were enlisted, 17,900  people attended their events, 39,831 people were engaged beyond their school communities, 1 principal was duck-taped to the wall., 2 teachers were pied in the face, 6,993 items were collected valued at $37,327, $33,041.67 in donations were collected

The community’s investment in St. Louis youth yielded a return of 1011% impacting over 100,000 people in the St Louis community. And THAT was just the beginning. RandomKid and Youth Venture are now taking The Big Return to all 50 states in 5 years. LOOK OUT WORLD.

Past Presenters

The public lecture series has brought many wonderful speakers to Ladue Chapel. In the past, we have been honored to host the following:

Bob Abernethy, Religion & Ethics Newsweekly (2011)

Mrs. Rosalynn Carter, former First Lady & wife of President Jimmy Carter (2001)

Senator John C. Danforth, former United States Senator for Missouri (1998)

Morris Dees, civil rights lawyer, Southern Poverty Law Center (2000)

E.J. Dionne, Jr., columnist at The Washington Post & Senior Fellow at The Brookings Institute (2001)

Greg Epstein, Humanist Chaplain at Harvard University (2010)

The Faith Club: Ranya Idliby, Suzanne Oliver, and Priscilla Warner. (2008)

Bruce Feiler, author of Walking the Bible (2007)

David Gergen, professor of public service at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and director of its Center for Public Leadership, and former White House advisor to Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Clinton (2005)

Rev. Peter J. Gomes, lecturer, Harvard University preacher & author (2002)

R. Marie Griffith, PhD, Director of the John C. Danforth Center for Religion and Politics at Washington University in St. Louis and the John C. Danforth Distinguished Professor in the Humanities (2012)

Peter Hessler, author and correspondent (2009)

A. E. Hotchner, screenwriter and playwright (1995)

Hamilton Jordan, former White House Chief of Staff to President Jimmy Carter, cancer survivor and, along with his wife Dorothy, co-founder of Camp Sunshine, a year round program for children with cancer (2003)

Senator Nancy Kassebaum, former United States Senator and wife of Howard Baker (1997)

Jonathan Kozol, author of Amazing Grace: The Lives of Children and the Conscience of a Nation (1999)

Nicholas Kristof, New York Times columnist and author (2008)

Talia Leman, teen philanthropist, CEO & founder of, UNICEF’s 2005-06 National Youth Ambassador, and recipient of “Founder’s Youth Award” for World of Children (2010)

Dr. Thomas G. Long, professor, Princeton University (1997)

Brian D. McLaren, author of Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddah and Mohammed Cross The Road? (2012)

Bill Moyers, former press secretary to President Johnson (1999)

Kathleen Norris, award-winning poet, writer and author (2007)

Dr. Elaine Pagels, Harrington Spear Paine Professor of Religion at Princeton University and author of Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas (2004)

General Colin L. Powell (1998)

Stephen Prothero, author and Professor of Religion at Boston University (2013)

Dr. Peter Raven, Director of the Missouri Botanical Garden (2006)

Huston Smith, noted author and theologian (2005)

Dr. Jane E. Smith, Ph.D., consultant, educator and past President & CEO for the National Council of Negro Women (2002)

John Stossel, ABC News’ Reporter and author (2004)

St. Louis Symphony Orchestra President, Fred Bronstein, and Music Director, David Robertson (2009)

Rabbi Susan Talve, leader of Central Reform Congregation in St. Louis (2003)

Living Green: Building A Sustainable Future – A panel discussion with Chris Cedergreen, Maren Engelmohr, Tomislav Zigo, and Catalina Freixas (2011)

Lynne Twist, global activist, fundraiser, consultant and author (2009)

Ms. Minnijean Brown Trickey one of nine African American teens known as the Little Rock Nine, on the 50th anniversary of the integration of Little Rock High School (2007)

Dr. Cornel West, author and professor, Harvard University (1996)

Rev. Dr. William Willimon, Dean of the Chapel and Professor of Christian Ministry at Duke University (2000)

Practical Seminar Presenters

Rev. Dr. Ivy Beckwith, Children’s Ministry workshop leader (2007)

Rev. Dr. Walter Brueggeman, professor Columbia Seminary (1996)

Rev. Dr. John Claypool, author, Theologian in Residence at Trinity Episcopal in New Orleans and professor of homiletics at McAfee School of Theology at Mercer University in Atlanta (2003)

Episcopal-Presbyterian Charitable and Medical Trust (2004)

Dr. Laura Mendenhall, president of Columbia Theological Seminary, Presbyterian Church USA (2003)

Dr. Robert Raines, author of A Time to Live (2000)

Rev. Dr. Raymond Roberts, noted author and staff member at Union Theological Seminary, as well as pastor at Grace Church Jenkintown, PA (2003)

Sr. Joyce Rupp, writer, retreat guide, conference speaker and spiritual director (2002)

For more information about our facilities, please contact Ladue Chapel Presbyterian Church by phone (314-993-4771) or use our convenient online form.