Summit, the university’s 109th annual Bible lectureship, will begin Sunday and feature preachers and ministers from around the country as well as several speakers from close to home.
With a change in leadership, this year’s Summit includes a distinctly local flavor, though organizers say they worked to bring in a diversity of viewpoints and experiences for main speakers as well as the dozens of daily seminar presenters. And while Summits in recent years have showcased well known evening speakers from a variety of religious backgrounds, this year’s speakers all have experience preaching for Churches of Christ.
Interim Summit director Dr. David Wray said these differences are more related to a shortened planning period than Summit priorities, which continue to include a variety of viewpoints. Wray and other Summit organizers took on the project seven months ago and in that time scheduled almost 130 speakers.
More than 30 of those speakers are ACU faculty and staff members. For example, former Summit director Dr. Brady Bryce will start the Summit evening sermon series, which will focus on the book of Philippians. And Dr. Richard Beck, chair of the Department of Psychology, will speak in Monday Morning Chapel.
Other showcase speakers are well known within Church of Christ. Dr. Chris Smith is the preaching minister at Warpath Hills Church of Christ in Nashville, Dr. Raymond Carr is an assistant professor of religion at Pepperdine University, and former Highland Church of Christ preaching minister Mike Cope now preaches at Golf Course Road Church of Christ.
“Timing was an issue,” Wray said. “You have loyalty to where you have relationships. You don’t just step in at the last moment and get these internationally known people. We did invite numerous ones, and they all declined because of their schedule.”
The team spent around two months identifying who they wanted to invite to be speakers as well as focusing on who they wanted to get to speak on this year’s theme, which is “Same Mind: United in Imitating Jesus.”
“We were led to believe that we needed to extend a higher number of invitations because only a limited responded with a yes,” said Mandy Scudder, administrative coordinator of ministry events. “What we started finding was there were lots of yeses coming in. We were all pleasantly surprised at the amount of people that responded pretty quickly and said yes.”
Having to rely not only on relationships to schedule the speakers, but finding speakers who could have universal messages of diversity, openness and acceptance was very important, Wray said. One of the goals with finding speakers was finding people who would be able to connect to not only visitors and loyal Summit attendees, but to students as well.
“It basically boiled down to who can we get that’s going to speak to the students and speak to the people who’ve come for years and still offer something on the cutting edge,” said Judy Siburt, Summit committee member and wife of late Dr. Charles Siburt. “We tried a number of people outside of our ‘tribe,’ but we didn’t get any of them. So we felt we would use the best of the best.”
The team also looked into current issues and made sure to get speakers who could talk on these topics. One session, being taught by Dr. Steven Moore, associate professor of language and literature, is focusing on the most recent conflict between young black men and white police officers.
“Steven Moore did his dissertation on black rage, so he is addressing some of the issues that are going on with black people being incarcerated by white police officers,” said Wray. “Dr. Neal Coates, who is a faculty member, is talking about the genocide that’s going on with Coptic Christians in the Middle East.”