The Summit committee did not waste time in organizing Summit fall 2014, beginning preparations last summer.
The coming Summit will feature famed speakers ranging from an episcopal priest, Gilbert T. Rowe professor from Duke University and a young documentary producer.
Summit 2014 is themed “Earthed: Discovering Our Origin in God.” Earthed will focus on the narrative of Genesis. The theme emphasizes the beginning of life and its origin from God as portrayed by the title, Earthed. The word represents how God works through His creation and promises to bless all humanity through one group of people.
Brady Bryce, director of ministry events, has coordinated Summit since 2007.
“It is about the earthed nature of God’s creative work in his promises,” Bryce said. “The other part of earthed is that there were a lot of earthy stories. There are some difficult and troubling stories about people that are in Genesis that help us reflect on our own lives and how we might live in light of God’s word.”
Bryce said themes are usually planned 10 years in advance.
“Right now I have probably about six or eight years out,” he said.
Stephen Johnson, dean of the Honors College and director of ACU City Square in Dallas, has been working with Bryce to bring in speakers, such as Barbara Brown Taylor, to Summit.
Johnson said he looks forward to the theme of Earthed which presents our faith as, not an ethereal perception, but grounded in dust and flesh from the story of creation.
“We want to form students who are careful and attentive observers of the world from many perspectives that see their own faith and spiritual journey as a lens to engage the world,” Johnson said.
The speakers are diverse in age, knowledge and professions.
Barbara Brown Taylor is one of the renowned preachers in the states. An episcopal priest since 1984, Taylor is also the butman professor of religion and a theologian at Piedmont College, Ga. As an undergraduate, she attended Emory University and proceeded to study at Yale Divinity School. In 1996, she was named one of the twelve most effective preachers in the English language by Baylor University. Author of the New York Times bestseller An Altar in the World,Taylor won the 2006 Author of the Year award from the Georgia Writers Association. She lives on a farm with her husband, tending animals varying from wild turkeys, red foxes, horses and chickens.
Stanley Hauerwas is the Gilbert T. Rowe professor of theological ethics at the Divinity School of Duke University. Known for his work in theology and ethics, Hauerwas’ main focus is to show how theological convictions are meaningless when not embodied into the human life. A graduate of Yale Divinity School and Yale Divinity Graduate School, he completed his undergraduate at Southwestern University. Hauerwas was a faculty member at the University of Notre Dame and began working at Duke University in 1984. He is a member of many educational and theological societies such as the Society for Christian Ethics, the American Academy of Religion and the American Theological Society.
Andrea Dilley is an author and documentary producer whose works have been published in Christianity Today, Huffington Post, CNN Belief Blog, American Public Television and more. Dilley is the daughter of Quaker medical missionaries and her early childhood was spent growing up in Kenya. Her memoir Faith and Other Flat Tires: Searching for God on the Rough Road of Doubt won the “Best Books of 2012″ from Byron Borger of Hearts & Minds.
In addition to the featured speakers, Summit has organized a group of theme speakers that will present throughout the week and lead other events on campus.
The theme speakers consist of:
- Don McLaughlin
Pulpit minister from North Atlanta Church of Christ, Atlanta, Ga.
- Lawrence Murray
Assistant professor of Psychology & Family Studies/Liberal Arts from Oklahoma Christian University.
- Sam Barrington
Pastor from Living Stones Church, South Bend, Ind.
- Sam Gonzalez
Campus minister, Oak Hills Church-Outer West Campus, San Antonio.
- Randy Harris
Instructor of Bible, missions and ministry.
The schedule for the event has been set and is viewable at acu.edu/summit. The preachers have been placed into different days to create a flow for the overall theme, Bryce said.
Students should look for Coffee Houses that will take place on campus focusing on literature. Jeff Childers, a professor in the Graduate School of Theology, will be coordinating a Coffee House on Tolkien and Tony Ash is organizing another on C.S. Lewis.
“Most speakers are very easy to work with because they care about the setting of ACU and they want to serve our students and administration,” Bryce said. “I’m always surprised, financial-wise, that we can bring in these people because I don’t have the budget to bring in the high-dollar people. But different folks coming to campus will contribute to different departments.”
Departments around campus have been working with Summit to help with the budget to bring in needed speakers. Some speakers such as Andrea Dilley and Barbara Taylor were possible because of the efforts of the English department and Honors College.
“A young mom, Andrea Dilley wrote a book about growing up as a missionary kid and going to college and losing her faith completely,” Bryce said.
Dilley has produced many documentaries with a Christian perspective and is a great contribution to Summit, Bryce said.
The Honors College collaborated with Summit to acquire Taylor as a speaker.
“We have been talking with her for seven years to see if she would come,” Bryce said. “She is one of the top preachers that are alive today.”
“Honors will host a dinner that Honors’ students can attend with Barbara Brown Taylor, ” Johnson said. “We are working with Summit to have a Q-and-A session in a bigger room that anyone can come to. She’s an outstanding preacher, so it’s an opportunity to hear from one of the leading voices in preaching.”
Preparations for Summit are planned about 15 to 18 months prior to the event. Each summer, a year before Summit, time is spent collecting ideas, reviewing scriptures and modeling themes. A list of featured speakers is organized and once a book from the Bible is chosen, Bryce spends the summer reading the text.
“We always take a biblical text,” he said. “If it’s an Old Testament or New Testament book, I will speak with our Old or New Testament scholars and talk about text and themes that might be appropriate.”
In the Fall, time is spent on campus to survey faculty, departments and organizations to receive opinions about speakers to invite. Toward the end of the semester, design and construction of Summit brochures and the Summit magazine will begin and flow into the following summer.
Summit is open to receive ideas for themes year round.
“Everything is collected into a folder named potential. There are no bad ideas.” Bryce said.
Johnson said, “What I appreciate about what Summit offers is a theme that is broad enough to bring in different perspectives to hear about. I would encourage students to take advantage of the opportunity and see it as a continuity with their experience here.”
As housekeeping and finalizing details for the event and speakers continue this spring and into summer, Summit welcomes the public to submit their ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org. The committee and Students’ Association are also working together to raise funds to bring the Christian band, Jars of Clay.