Hello, and welcome to the “Church of Christ Celebrities” blog! As always, if you have a suggestion for how to improve this project or a celebrity you’d like me to research, mosey on over to the “Comments” page and leave me a note. And if you enjoy the blog, feel free to share a link or three on the social media platform(s) of your choice.
Per a reader’s request, our first potential CoCer (that’s “Church of Christ”-er, for the uninitiated) is Lester Holt, who is currently the anchor of the NBC Nightly News. Holt rose to that position after Brian Williams’s unseemly exit from the job in 2015 and has been there ever since. In addition to his regular duties, Holt also served as the moderator of the first presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, as well as a Democratic primary debate earlier in 2016.
Holt’s religiosity is a matter of public record. Us Weekly, for instance, published a list in which Holt supposedly claimed to have been the “lead singer” in his church. (1) Holt later clarified on the Today show that he was not, in fact, a lead singer–he was a former song leader–and even broke into song on air. (2) But what of his connection to Churches of Christ?
Fortunately for us, evidence is plentiful. In 2005, Erik Tryggestad of the Christian Chronicle, a newspaper affiliated with Churches of Christ, interviewed Holt regarding his faith. Tryggestad noted that Holt worshiped regularly at the Manhattan Church of Christ, and Holt added that “From time to time I lead communion meditation and perform Scripture readings from the pulpit.” Holt also briefly mentioned his deep roots in Churches of Christ: “Both my father and mother are very active members of the Church of Christ… [and] I was baptized at the age of 9.” (3)
Nearly five years later, the Chronicle once again featured Holt prominently, offering an in-depth examination of his upbringing and membership in Churches of Christ. Holt’s father, grandfather, and great-grandfather all served as elders at one point or another, but his father, Les Sr., told interviewer Bobby Ross, Jr., that “Lester’s faith is his faith — not a faith inherited by osmosis. This is proven by the fact that although he left home at an early age, he has continued to be a faithful Christian.” (4)
More recently, Holt gave the commencement address to the 2012 graduating class at Pepperdine University, which is associated with Churches of Christ. He was also awarded an honorary doctorate by the school, which was presented to him by his son Stefan, a 2009 graduate. (5)
Based on the above evidence, I think it’s safe to say that our first “Church of Christ Celebrity” subject is CONFIRMED–a shocking turn of events, no doubt. Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for future posts!
(1) “Lester Holt: 25 Things You Don’t Know About Me (‘I Dabbled in Stand-Up Comedy!’)”, Us Weekly, April 27, 2017, accessed August 7, 2017, http://www.usmagazine.com/entertainment/news/lester-holt-25-things-you-dont-know-about-me-w479107.
(2) Erik Tryggestad, “‘How Great Thou Art’ — Lester Holt talks song leading on ‘Today’,” Christian Chronicle, April 27, 2017, accessed August 7, 2017, http://www.christianchronicle.org/article/how-great-thou-art-lester-holt.
(3) Erik Tryggestad, “A Conversation with Lester Holt,” Christian Chronicle, May 2005, accessed August 7, 2017, http://www.christianchronicle.org/article/a-conversation-with-lester-holt.
(4) Bobby Ross Jr., “Anchor for his soul: Lester Holt reflects on faith and journalism,” Christian Chronicle, January 2010, accessed August 7, 2017, http://www.christianchronicle.org/article/anchor-for-his-soul-lester-holt-reflects-on-faith-and-journalism.
(5) “Lester Holt To Pepperdine: NBC Reconsidered My Application 23 Years After Rejecting Me,” Huffington Post, April 30, 2012, accessed August 7, 2017, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/30/lester-holt-pepperdine-commencement-speech_n_1464758.html.