By Jonathan Smith, Editor in Chief
Dr. Royce Money, president of the university, announced Sunday night that Bible Lectureship will move from its traditional February timeslot to the third week of September in 2006.
During that transition, the university will conduct two Lectureships within seven months of each other.
Dr. Mark Love, director of Ministry Events, said several factors converged that convinced him to make the change.
One of the chief reasons for moving Lectureship to September, Love said, is to give it its own space on the university calendar instead of following on the heels of Sing Song. He said after the stress and work of Sing Song, many students do not participate in Lectureship activities.
“As Lectureship currently stands, it really involves a small part of the ACU population,” Love said. “We feel like if we can provide Lectureship its own space, we can involve more of the campus.”
Love said a problem he has encountered is cynicism that Lectureship is only an event for the Department of Bible, Missions and Ministry. To counter that perception, Love said he would like to involve more of the campus and use more of the campus’ public, outdoor places-something he said he could not always count on doing in February. Love said he knows the weather in September will not always be less extreme than in February, but it should be better.
He also said if weather were the only factor in this decision, he would not have moved Lectureship.
Love said moving Lectureship would also help organizers create a new image for the event instead of just being a time to listen to speakers giving lectures.
“Lectureship right now feels like a talking-head event,” Love said. “We want it to be colorful, multifaceted and participatory. A move allows us to put a new stamp on Lectureship.”
Another facet leading to the change was that several other universities conduct similar programs to Lectureship in the spring. Pepperdine University’s Bible Lectures occurs the first week in May. This year, Oklahoma Christian University’s Lectureship was Jan. 30 through Feb. 2.
Love said he felt many people were in a position where they had to choose between ACU’s February Lectureship and one of the other events. He said a September Lectureship would conflict with fewer events.
Although a September Lectureship might conflict with fewer non-ACU events, the change would put the event just one month before Homecoming.
Love acknowledged that the change would create an initial hardship for offices like Creative Services and University Events, which do work organizing both Homecoming and Lectureship.
Dr. Michelle Morris, assistant vice president for University and Alumni Relations who also oversees Creative Services and University Events, said the change will be difficult, especially in 2006.
“The work for the fall Lectureship will back up into our centennial year,” Morris said. “That could cause some problems. From 2007 forward, it should become much easier to work Lectureship into our normal schedule.
“It will make early fall pretty busy,” Morris said, “but if this move is in the best interest of the university and our Lectureship guests, our team will give their support to it.”
Love said to simplify matters for these offices, any event not directly tied to Lectureship will not be moved to September. Morris said leaving these events-such as board meetings, President’s Circle Dinner and the Outstanding Alumnus of the Year luncheon-will make the fall easier.
Love said he also conducted research to make sure moving Lectureship would not hurt attendance at Homecoming and Sing Song.
Love said he surveyed two groups. The first groups-older preachers who attend Lectureship-for the most part did not attend other major ACU events. Out of the second group-younger preachers who attend Lectureship-only a few regularly attended Homecoming or Sing Song.
Although he said he will not know until it happens, Love said moving Lectureship should not hurt attendance of other events.
Love said he also checked with the city of Abilene to make sure a fall Lectureship would not interfere with events for the city.
Nanci Liles, executive director of the Abilene Convention and Visitors Bureau, said although February was a good time for Lectureship, the new date should work. Although September is a busy month for the city with events like the Big Country Air Show and Book and Author Festival, the new Lectureship date will not necessarily conflict with those events.
After Money announced the change Sunday night, Love said he was prepared to answer questions from people who were uncertain about the change. He planned a question-and-answer session Monday evening in Teague Special Events Center, but only two people posed questions or concerns, and a few others stopped by to listen. Love said he took that to mean that the change is not a big concern for those attending Lectureship this year.
With time, Love said he thinks other concerns will also be alleviated.
“We think three years from now once we’ve ironed out all the rough parts and gotten everyone used to the new time,” Love said, “we’ll really be at a good place.”