Dallas Willard, who was originally scheduled as a featured guest, is unable to speak at Summit because of health reasons.
Willard, 77, underwent surgery in July that was expected to be minor, but he didn’t recover well, said Brady Bryce, director of ministry events. Willard was forced to cancel his fall teaching schedule and is building up his strength to undergo a second surgery during week of Summit.
“I know there will be people who are disappointed,” Bryce said. “I’m probably at the front of that line, but I’m hoping out of the disappointment will give way to prayers for Dallas.”
Willard, professor in the School of Philosophy at the University of Southern California, is a renowned philosopher and bestselling author of books such asÂ The Divine Conspiracy, Renovation of the Heart andÂ Knowing Christ Today.
Students and faculty reacted to the news of Willard’s absence with disappointment yet understanding. Parker Lawson, sophomore biology major from Denton, grew up knowing Willard’s theological legacy.
“I’ve always been a big fan of Dallas Willard and his work, and I was very disappointed when I learned he would not be at Summit this year,” Lawson said. “However, I am still looking forward to Summit because of all of the other amazing speakers.”
After Willard was forced to cancel, Bryce was left with empty spots for both classes and featured speakers.
“When I was looking for people who could both be a featured guest and preach for us on Wednesday evening, I called Don McLaughlin who is just quality in every sense of the word,” Bryce said. “When he came last time to speak at Summit, students requested him to come back. This will be his first time back in five or six years.”
Randy Harris, spiritual director for the College of Bible and professor in the Department of Bible, Missions and Ministry, was also chosen to fill in for Willard.
“Randy Harris was an easy selection as a substitute,” Bryce said. “From administration to students, everyone was like ‘why don’t we get Randy to speak?'”
Harris will speak as the featured guest on Wednesday at 3 p.m. and McLaughlin will lead the theme conversation at 7 p.m.