Mark Beliles is an author, international lecturer, historian and clergyman. He was the co-chairman of the City of Charlottesville's Celebrate 250 anniversary in 2012.
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Work as a historian
Beliles wrote a history of the city that ran in the Daily Progress November 10 through November 12, 2012. He was chairman of the Charlottesville Historic Resources Committee from 1999 to 2010 (that erected many historic markers, published tour books, etc), and also served on the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Festival committee 2003-2005. He was creator and Director of the Jeffersonian Thanksgiving Festival from 1994-2012 that also created the annual Holiday Heritage Parade held downtown on the Mall each year.
Beliles also proposed and served on the city committee overseeing the renovations of Court Square that were dedicated in 2005. For all of these efforts he was honored by the City of Charlottesville with a proclamation honoring him on October 21, 2013.
Beliles also organized a religious history celebration during Albemarle County's 250th anniversary in 1994 and a 100th anniversary observance of the University of Virginia Chapel in 1989 (authoring "Religious Freedom and Jefferson's University"). Beliles has convened two scholarly symposiums (1996 & 2002) on Jefferson and religion with many nationally-known scholars at the University of Virginia (co-sponsored by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities). He has published two widely respected books on that theme: Doubting Thomas: The Religious Life and Legacy of Thomas Jefferson and a companion reference volume entitled The Selected Religious Letters and Papers of Thomas Jefferson. His Ph.D. dissertation was on Churches and Politics in Jefferson's Virginia, 1736-1836 and has authored or co-authored several other books for popular audiences.
He founded Grace Covenant Church in 1981 and as a local pastor has organized many major religious events in the city and at the University - such as an annual City Prayer Breakfast for religious and civic leaders, and a religious service in the downtown amphitheater two days after the September 11 terrorist attack in 2001. He also co-founded and led for many years the Central Virginia Council of Pastors and Christian Leaders, and served on the founding board of the Pregnancy Centers of Central Virginia. He has worked on improving race relations in the city and nationally as an adviser to African-American churches and facilitator of reconciliation leadership summits that have included the King family, Andrew Young and other civil rights leaders. Beliles received an award from the government of South Africa for his help in their transition away from Apartheid. As president of the Global Transformation Network he is in demand as a speaker around the world, having spoken in over 40 countries including such diverse places as the parliament of South Korea, the National Academy of Science in Moscow, and the Governor's Palace of Jakarta, Indonesia.
The Daily Progress, November 10-12, 2012 editions