According to the Skyrocket, December, 1949, the first Bible Lectureship was conducted in January, 1926. It was known as the "Preacher's Course" and lasted a month. The first "Preacher's Course" as outlined in the 1936 Skyrocket included: Church History, The Restoration, Bible Geography, Evidences of Christianity, Popular Religious Errors, The Sunday School, Young Preachers' Meetings, English, Spelling, Sight-Singing, and Special Lectures.
The library was open day and night to provide to the visitors of the "Preacher's Course" opportunity to do research on the topics discussed at the lectures. The depression brought a lapse of about a decade in the continuity, but the courses were resumed in 1937. The Lectureship Banquet was held in the “Old Dining Hall” (Draughon’s Building, first floor). A debt of many thousands was placed on the college in 1926. It was paid in January, 1937. They burned the mortgage during the first special Bible Lectureship. Bro. and sis. N. B. Hardeman helped to burn the mortgage.
The Lectureship was held during the 1936-1937 school year and lasted a month. It was later reduced in length and in the 1940’s it lasted 2 weeks. Since 1961, the FHU Annual Bible Lectureship now comes during the first full week in February.
Special January Courses with H. Leo Boles Added to Faculty
It is the earnest desire of Freed-Hardeman College to render every help possible. We know that there are a number of preachers who cannot spend an entire session in school, and who, being largely isolated in their work, feel the need of contact and discussion of the various problems. An interchange of thought and the opportunity for revising and rearranging sermon matter can but be helpful. To fill this need a special program was drafted for January, 1937. The interest manifested and the good accomplished were beyond our fondest hopes. About seventy preachers from seventeen different states attended. There was a general request for a repetition of these courses and, accordingly, they were repeated in 1938, 1939, 1940, 1941, 1942 and will be continued through a part of January, 1943. There will be courses suited to the work of elders and deacons and they are urged to attend. Efficient leadership is the great need of most congregations everywhere (FHC catalogue 1943-1944 Bulletin.)
The speakers for the second annual “Preacher’s Course” in 1938 included such notables as: H. Leo Boles, N.B. Hardeman, L.L. Brigance, John T. Lewis, L. O. Sanderson, and Foy E. Wallace. H. Leo Boles had two classes daily along with lectures nightly on "the Problems of Young People." N. B. Hardeman spoke daily on "The Bible Lands."
In 1942 a series of debates attracted considerable attention. I don’t know whether there were debates prior to this time or not. Our “Contemporary Discussion” is based on the heritage of this kind of open discussion. The first of the debates that year was on Jan. 6th on the question: " Whether or not preachers have now the same miraculous powers as in the days of the apostles." Brother Guy N. Woods affirmed and Brother David Bobo denied. Several other topics were discussed by other debaters.
In 1942 some of the "Akin Boys" (preacher-students whose education was funded by the Akin scholarship) gave biographies of the pioneer preachers.
Brother H. A. Dixon, former president of Freed-Hardeman taught sight-singing, vocal music, and theory during the early 1940's.
In 1944 the Sky Rocket (the student newspaper) announced that room and board will be around $1.50 a day, and requested that visitors drop a card to Freed-Hardeman College so arrangements could be made.
The Special Courses of 1946 were cancelled because of the lack of accommodations in the town which was taxed to provide lodgings for the regular student body. Alumni Frank Van Dyke and Howard Parker, preaching in Jackson, tackled the problem and secured homes in Jackson to provide lodging for 100 visiting preachers. The course proceeded as planned.
In the 1954 Lectureship Lora Laycook held a pre-school demonstration class. "Miss Lora" presented Bible truths in creative ways to young minds. She also taught Bible lessons with song, using familiar tunes of known hymns.
She was the only woman to speak on the Lectureship that year, and the first one as far as we know.
In the 1950's tea was served to visiting ladies on Thursday afternoon in the home of Mrs. D. E. Mitchell.
In 1955 and other years, free coffee for visitors was available in the cafeteria throughout the lectures from 1:30-4:30.
Missionary updates and news of missionaries was presented early-on in the Lectureships. Mission panels appeared in 1960.
During the 1950 Lectureship, there was an electric power failure that deprived the Church auditorium of both heat and light. The eagerly awaited sermon to be given on Friday by H. A. Dixon, of Florence, Alabama had to be cancelled.
The college chorus and quartet presented programs of spiritual music during Lectures of 1951, under the direction of Kelly Doyle.
A workshop for Bible teachers appeared on the 1958 Lectures.
The comment of one visitor in 1954 seemed to express the feelings of most who were present: " Like a tired and thirsty traveler reaching an oasis so I have been impressed with the refreshment of the good things offered here."
Directors of the lectureship include the following: N. B. Hardeman, G. K. Wallace, H. A. Dixon, W. A. Bradfield, Frank Van Dyke, Thomas B. Warren, William Woodson, Winford Claiborne, and David Lipe.
Thanks to Marilynn Tollerson for much of this information.