Henry G. Brinton

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Henry G. Brinton
File:Henry G. Brinton.jpg
Henry G. Brinton
Born (1960-02-21) February 21, 1960 (age 58)
United States Washington, D.C.

Henry G. Brinton (born February 21, 1960) is a contributor to The Washington Post and USA Today, author of the books Balancing Acts: Obligation, Liberation, and Contemporary Christian Conflicts (CSS Publishing, 2006) and The Welcoming Congregation: Roots and Fruits of Christian Hospitality (Westminster John Knox Press, 2012), and the senior pastor of Fairfax Presbyterian Church. He was the senior writer for the preaching journal, Homiletics, until 2005. He currently lives in Fairfax, Virginia outside of Washington, D.C. Henry and his wife, Nancy Freeborne-Brinton, have two children, Sarah (Sadie) and Samuel Brinton.

Youth and Young Adulthood

Henry was born on February 21, 1960 in Washington, D.C., and grew up in Bowie, Maryland. His parents are the late Henry C. Brinton, a NASA scientist, and Mary L. Brinton, a kindergarten teacher. He went to Samuel Ogle Junior High School and, later, Bowie High School. He then attended Duke University, where he went on an archaeological dig in Israel. This caused Henry to turn to the religious life, which he pursued through studies at Yale Divinity School and parish ministry in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A).


In Balancing Acts, Henry makes the case that most controversies in America have religious roots, grounded in an ongoing struggle between obligation-keepers and liberation-seekers. He believes that obligation and liberation are the two major spiritual themes that animate life in America today, with most people aligning themselves with one of these attitudes. One group focuses on the obligations of religious life and seeks moral clarity, while the other tends to see religion as a liberation movement and stresses God's love for the oppressed. And though one might assume that obligation and liberation are synonyms for conservative and liberal, red state and blue state, they are really new fault lines that cut in unexpected and revealing ways through each camp. In a time of war, for example, it is conservatives who support military action to liberate oppressed people, while liberals speak of the moral obligation of non-violence.

The Welcoming Congregation unpacks the roots of hospitality, looking at hospitality in the Bible and in church tradition before highlighting specific practices to welcome and nurture people. Congregations that pay attention to first impressions are successful in attracting strangers, and those that further disciple those visitors through meals and small groups deepen people’s connections to God and each other. The book then explores the fruits of hospitality, describing how congregations rooted in hospitality are able to grow in reconciliation, outreach, and ever-broadening perceptions of God.

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