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Faced with Pandemic, FHU Revamps Traditional Lectureship

Henderson, Tennessee - Oct 29, 2020

For 85 years Freed-Hardeman University has hosted the Annual Bible Lectureship, bringing thousands of attendees to Henderson for a spiritual feast. Faced with the pandemic, lectureship leadership has been forced to re-vision the event scheduled for Feb. 7-11, 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 will look 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 hope will bless many,” Dr. Doug Burleson, lectureship director, said. The theme chosen for the study is “Encountering Ecclesiastes: Finding Meaning in a Meaningless World.”

Thirteen men, each of whom has prepared a lesson on a topic taken from Ecclesiastes, will be featured in a series of videos to be released Feb. 7-11.  In addition, the lessons will be printed in book format suitable for Bible class study.

“The 2021 lectureship has not been cancelled,” Burleson noted. “We have simply recreated its format with the desire to serve the church, connect with our lectureship friends, and continue to love our neighbor, as we protect the campus community and our guests.”

“We understand how much the lectureship means to so many people,” Burleson said. “However, we simply cannot put our student population or thousands of guests who come from around the world for our lectureship at risk in light of the pandemic.”

Topics and speakers in order of presentation are: “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.

The book will honor two couples who have special meaning for Freed-Hardeman, the lectureship and the kingdom, Stan and Marj Mitchell and Kerry and Lisa Couch. Stan Mitchell, who taught Bible at FHU 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 to cancer Sept. 10, 2020.

The lectureship book may be preordered at fhu.edu/lectureship for $10. Congregations and individuals are encouraged to buy the book and use it for group or personal study.  The videotaped lectures will remain online, so they may be watched in combination with studying the book.

Some in-person sessions for students are still being planned for Feb. 7-11, including the popular late-night lessons and daily chapel. In addition, links to special studies for women will be made available online. The lectureship committee also plans to do real-time updates from campus throughout the week.

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.