The seven keynote speakers for Summit 2015 have been confirmed, with two familiar faces at ACU highlighting the list.
Dr. Brady Bryce, director of contextual education, and Dr. Richard Beck, chair of the Department of Psychology, will speak during the first two sessions Sunday night and Monday morning, respectively. Other speakers will come to ACU from New York, Tennessee, California and Oklahoma.
Summit 2015 will take place Sept. 20-23. The theme has been established, and the finer details are being worked through in the Summit offices. This year’s Summit, titled “Same Mind: United in Imitating Jesus,” draws from Philippians.
Bryce resigned his position as director of ministry events early in the new year to take on greater responsibility as faculty. He already planned the Summit topic and organized the theme speakers before handing the reins over to Dr. David Wray, interim director of Summit, retired ACU professor and elder at Highland Church of Christ.
“This year’s theme was selected because of the wide-ranging diversity of Christians and the divisions that are far too dominant among disciples of Jesus,” Bryce said. “The little letter of Philippians provides an opportunity to focus on the Lord we claim to serve, to passionately imitate his deadly life and offer grace to one another in our differences. The model of love is a compelling witness for the world. If we Christians cannot show our love to one another, then we really do not have much to say to the world.”
Wray said Dr. Ken Cukrowski, dean of the College of Biblical Studies, contacted him and asked if he would take the role of interim director of Summit. After a couple weeks deliberating, Wray agreed and moved into his office in the Bible building in February.
Wray said he does not plan to change much of Summit in his time as interim director, especially due to the fact he entered the position late.
“(Bryce) had done very creative, innovative things all the way through his seven years of doing this,” Wray said. “Just doing similar things is the best approach we can take in making things work this year.”
Wray said one of his goals is to ensure students and church leaders alike benefit from Summit.
“This is a spiritually formative experience for students,” Wray said. “There’s classes, there’s late-at-night entertainment; there’s all kinds of things that are designed for students as well as for church leaders. We are really committed to this being ‘both/and’ instead of ‘either/or.’ In our ‘both/and’ world, how do you manage polarities? Church leaders and students. And we really want that to be the case.”
Wray said it is important to develop relationships among generations, and Summit provides a setting in which to do so.
“The youth bring such vibrant possibilities for the future, and those that have been doing it for a while bring some wisdom and discernment about things that have been done in the past,” Wray said. “Those two generations in conversation are very important.”
Mitchell East, senior biblical text major from Austin, said he thinks Summit isn’t only for Bible majors like himself, but sees the weekend as a great opportunity for all students. The topics offered are broad and can apply to all life situations.
“These speakers communicate the implications of faith when you raise kids, get married, have friends, participate in a community of faith, work under a boss and alongside coworkers, interact with gay people and experience good or bad art and music,” East said.
Wade Casey, graduate student from Fort Collins, Colorado, said Summit provides a setting to discuss topics relevant to the world today.
“Christians have a very particular way of addressing critical issues in social, economic, political, environmental and other areas of life,” Casey said. “The idea behind discussions and lectures at Summit is that students can hear qualified and trusted people talk about important topics that Christians should be attentive to.”
Roland Orr, elder at Highland Church of Christ, is on Wray’s four-person committee designed to help organize Summit. He said the opportunities to listen to speakers and make connections with other attendees should help entice students to attend sessions throughout the four-day conference. He offers simple advice:
“Invite a Summit visitor to lunch. They might buy.”