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Home » Campus News Latest » Obituaries » Dr. Gene Reeves, Former Staff

The Reverend Doctor Gene Reeves passed away on May 8, 2019.

Gene had taught at Antioch College, and was a Unitarian Universalist minister as well as a Buddhist scholar and teacher.

He once wrote, “I was raised Christian. At twenty I became a Unitarian. At thirty I became a Unitarian Universalist. And at fifty I became a Buddhist. But not once did I think of those becomings as a conversion from one faith to another. And so I remain, in my own self-understanding, Christian, Unitarian, Universalist, and Buddhist.”

Gene Reeves earned his undergraduate degree at the University of New Hampshire in 1956, an STB from Boston University in 1959, immediately after he was ordained a Unitarian minister, and finally his doctorate from Emory University in 1963.

He taught at the university level in China and Japan, and held professorial appointments at the University of Chicago’s Divinity School, Wilberforce, Tufts, and Antioch College. Gene was professor-emeritus at our UU seminary in Chicago, Meadville Lombard, which he also served for a time as dean.

In those years he was a prominent process theologian. In 1965 he was among the clergy who answered Martin Luther King’s call to come to Selma.

Gene was also a significant figure as a Buddhist teacher affiliated with the Rissho Kosei-kai movement. He spent the bulk of the last quarter of a century in Japan, where he helped to found the International Buddhist Congregation in Tokyo. His translation of the Lotus Sutra is considered one of the best available. He also edited A Buddhist Kaleidoscope: Essays on the Lotus Sutra, as well as the author of Stories of the Lotus Sutra.

Among his notable activities was as one of the planners for the Council for a Parliament of World Religions on the centenary of the original in 1993. He was a signal figure in the International Association for Religious Freedom, served for many years on the Society for Buddhist Christian Studies.