Summit owns a deep history, complete with tradition and expectation. Any changes to such a longstanding event must be handled with the utmost care. Even if every consideration is taken, feathers surely will be ruffled; but Brady Bryce and the office of ministry events have done an excellent job bringing the Summit’s focus back to students, and reaching out to the student body to provide a relevant, challenging experience.
When Brady Bryce joined Abilene Christian University’s faculty as director of ministry events, Summit 2007 already was planned. While rummaging through his new office, he stumbled upon a box of programs and brochures from past Lectureships (the event’s title before it was changed to Summit in 2008.) One of the faded pamphlets, from 1921, caught Bryce’s eye. He described the design as bland with just typesetting, much like an old newspaper.
“I read the paragraph description of what [the event] was about, and it said this: ‘Lectureship is intended primarily for the benefit of the students – and we anticipate that a number of guests will come for this rich, spiritual feast,” Bryce said.
The mission statement took him by surprise.
“I probably read that 10 times thinking, ‘Really? Almost 100 years ago, that’s the way it started?” Bryce said.
In the first year of Abilene Christian University – then Childers Classical Institute – a week-long gospel meeting, of sorts, gave students a break from spring classes and the chance to listen to a notable speaker. As Bryce learned more about the event’s history, he realized the focus of today’s Lectureship had shifted. Christian educators, ministers and alumni were receiving the best of what Lectureship had to offer. This subtle shift was not a positive one, in Bryce’s estimation, and he felt compelled to correct the event’s course by steering the focus back to the student body.
“That’s what I’ve tried to do for the last two years; Even the older generations are saying wow,” Bryce said. “I love pictures of a person with tattoos and piercings sitting next to an old person in a classroom. There’s so much to learn.”
Bryce moved the featured guest slot to 3 p.m. last year after much deliberation about the most convenient time for the average student. This year the office of ministry events redesigned the entire Summit schedule, modeling track times after class schedules. Now, students only would miss one meeting of a given class to attend an entire class or track.
It is no easy task to reformat an established event such as Summit, but Brady Bryce and his team of Summit coordinators returned the focus of the week to the students, where it belongs.