During the past 85 years, the Freed-Hardeman University Annual Bible Lectureship, has brought thousands of attendees to Henderson for a spiritual feast. Faced with the pandemic, lectureship leadership was forced to re-vision the event for 2021.
Instead of the planned week-long study of the Gospel of Luke with hundreds of speakers and large crowds on campus, the 2021 lectureship looked at the book of Ecclesiastes in a different format. “In light of current events, we wanted to go to the Word of God for answers in a way we hoped would bless many,” Dr. Doug Burleson, lectureship director, said. The theme chosen for the study was, “Encountering Ecclesiastes: Finding Meaning in a Meaningless World.”
Thirteen men, each of whom prepared a lesson on a topic taken from Ecclesiastes, were featured in a series of videos released Feb. 7-11. In addition, the lessons have been printed in book format and are suitable for Bible class study.
“The 2021 lectureship was not canceled,” Burleson noted. “We simply recreated its format with the desire to serve the church, connect with our lectureship friends, and continue to love our neighbor, as we protected the campus community and our guests.”
“We understand how much the lectureship means to so many people,” Burleson said. “However, we simply could not put our student population nor thousands of guests who traditionally come from around the world at risk.”
Topics and speakers in order of presentation were: “Encountering Disorder: Meaning in Change,”
Dr. Justin Rogers; “Encountering Pleasure: Meaning in the Process,” Dan Winkler; “Encountering Time: Meaning in the Moment,” Dr. Mark Blackwelder; “Encountering Labor: Meaning in Rest,” Dr. Ralph Gilmore; “Encountering Reputation: Meaning in Opportunity,” Jeff Jenkins; “Encountering God: Meaning in Reverence,” Hiram Kemp; “Encountering Success: Meaning in Accomplishment,” Dr. Billy Smith; “Encountering Wisdom: Meaning in Learning,” Dr. Doug Burleson; “Encountering Injustice: Meaning in Civil Disobedience,” Kenneth (K. J.) Moore; “Encountering Wealth: Meaning in What You Have,” Dr. David Powell; “Encountering Uncertainty: Meaning in the Unpredictable,” Dr. Jim Gardner; “Encountering Youth: Meaning in the Present,” Dr. Matt Cook; and “Encountering Life: Meaning in Accountability,” Dr. Rick Brumback.
Classes designed especially for ladies focused on the theme, “Living in the Everyday with the Ever After in Mind.” Pre-recorded lessons streamed Monday-Thursday at 8:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Speakers included FHU First Lady Tracie Shannon, Kristi Burleson, Aleshia Sokoloski, Cathy Powell, CeCe Spencer, Jamie Boyd, Hannah Young, and Dr. Sharen and Dr. Karen Cypress.
This year’s lectureship book honors two couples who hold special meaning for Freed-Hardeman, the lectureship and the kingdom; Stan and Marj Mitchell and Kerry and Lisa Couch. Stan Mitchell, who had taught in the FHU College of Biblical Studies since 1997, passed away Feb. 19, 2019. Kerry Couch, an alumnus of Freed-Hardeman and a member of the FHU Board of Trustees for 18 years, lost his battle with cancer Sept. 10, 2020. Fellow trustee John Law wrote an article about the Couches while Dr. Kevin Moore wrote a tribute to the Mitchells. Both are included in the lectureship book.
The 250-page book may still be ordered at fhu.edu/lectureship for $10. Congregations and individuals are encouraged to buy the book and use it for group or personal study. The lectures premiered during the week of Feb. 7-11 and remain online (at fhu.edu/lectureship/2021-lectureship-videos), so they may be watched in combination with studying the book.
Some in-person sessions for students were conducted Feb. 7-11, including the popular late-night lessons for college students and daily chapel. In addition, links to special studies for women were made available online. The lectureship committee also did real-time updates from campus throughout the week and all sessions were live-streamed.
The program originally planned for February 2021, “He Went About Doing Good: The Compassion of Christ in Luke,” is now scheduled for 2022. “We are continuing to prayerfully prepare for that lectureship even now,” Burleson said.