Professor Mark Osler was named the Ruthie E. Mattox Chair of Preaching at First Covenant Church in Minneapolis on July 8. He will preach a few times a year at the historic church, which sits at 810 S. 7th St. in downtown Minneapolis, across the street from the Minnesota Vikings stadium.
The chair was named for Ruthie E. Mattox, a lifelong member of the church who has dedicated her life to humanitarian work. The chair is appointed to an individual who has demonstrated a commitment to bridging their Christian faith to real life and doing so courageously on behalf of others.
“Mark has been an esteemed guest preacher for the last several years at First Covenant,” Dan Collison, lead pastor at First Covenant, said of Osler. “In addition to tremendous gratitude for his exceptional preaching, the congregation and leadership of the church sees in Professor Osler’s work, including his legal expertise at the intersection of law and social justice, a needed and generous Christian voice in our time.”
Osler’s position with the church is a complement to his legal and academic work, and to the mission of the University of St. Thomas School of Law, which is dedicated to integrating faith and reason in the search for truth through a focus on morality and social justice.
In his time as a federal prosecutor, Osler played a role in striking down a mandatory 100-to-1 ratio between crack and powder cocaine in the federal sentencing guidelines by winning the case of Spears v. United States in the U.S. Supreme Court, with the Court ruling that judges could categorically reject that ratio. His 2009 book, Jesus on Death Row, critiqued the American death penalty through the lens of Jesus' trial, and his second book, Prosecuting Jesus, is a memoir of performing the Trial of Jesus in 11 states. Osler's writing on clemency, sentencing and narcotics policy has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and in law journals at Harvard, Stanford, the University of Chicago, Northwestern, Georgetown, Ohio State, UNC, William and Mary, and Rutgers.