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King University News :: Buechner Institute Expands Upcoming Lecture Series to New Venues Across East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia; Series Contemplates "What’s Next?"

BRISTOL, Tenn., June 23, 2014 – No matter what stage of life, everyone has at one time or another wondered about the age-old question: “What’s next?” During its seventh season, the Buechner Institute’s 2014-15 Lecture Series will host 15 speakers and performers who will address variations on perennial questions: “How did we get to this moment? What’s coming along now? What does it all mean?” The series is co-sponsored by Bristol Herald Courier.

Each year, the Buechner Lecture Series seeks to address our relationship between faith and culture. The Buechner Institute at King University was founded in 2008 to address this vital issue while also paying tribute to the American writer and Presbyterian minister, Frederick Buechner. The Buechner Institute aims to cultivate a conversation that is both artful and substantial on issues of faith and culture.

Dr. Dale Brown is the director of the Buechner Institute and professor of English for King University. On the upcoming season he commented, “The Buechner program for 2014-15 will try to address this superbly honed, unadorned question of what’s next. Our speakers and performers will come at the question via sentence and solace, edification and entertainment. Perhaps, among the words of our speakers and the songs of our singers, we can find encouragement to face what’s next with confidence.”

The Buechner Institute Lecture Series will kick off with a visit by Barbara Brown Taylor. “We are most fortunate to have Barbara returning to kick-off our Buechner Institute season,” says Brown. “She has been one of our most ardent supporters in her role with the [Buechner] National Advisory Board, and she has made important contributions to the international conversation about thoughtful faith and spirituality. Her most recent book offers challenging ways of thinking about the learning that comes from paying attention to those moments we find painful or difficult.”

Taylor is one of America’s best known preachers. She is a priest, teacher, and also the author of 13 books. Taylor was featured as one of the cover stories for the May 5/May 12, 2014 “100 Most Influential People” edition of Time magazine. The story highlighted her latest work, “Learning to Walk in the Dark.” Taylor will speak at First Presbyterian Church in Bristol, Tenn., on Aug. 26 at 7 p.m., followed by giving King University’s opening convocation at the Memorial Chapel on Aug. 27 at 9:15 a.m.

Contemporary Louisiana writer Tim Gautreaux is the author of critically acclaimed novels and short fiction often set in the Louisiana bayou country. He is also a member of the Buechner Institute National Advisory Board and writer-in-residence and professor emeritus at Southeastern Louisiana University. He will speak on Sept. 1 at 7 p.m. in Widner Lounge in Maclellan Hall at King University’s main campus in Bristol, Tenn.

On Sept. 15, during two co-sponsored events with Milligan College, Frederica Mathewes-Green will speak at 9:15 a.m. in Memorial Chapel at King in Bristol, followed by a second lecture at Milligan College’s Hyder Auditorium in Johnson City, Tenn., at 7 p.m. Mathewes-Green’s work has appeared nationally in such publications as the Washington Post, Christianity Today, Smithsonian, the Los Angeles Times, and the Wall Street Journal.

October will bring a lecture by Eugenie Scott and performance by Sandra McCracken. On Oct. 13, Scott, former executive director of the National Center for Science Education, Inc., will speak at the Memorial Chapel on King’s Bristol campus at 9:15 a.m., and again at 7 p.m. at the Bristol Public Library in Bristol, Va. Scott is an expert on the creationism and evolution controversy and is called upon by the press and other media to explain science to the general public.

McCracken will perform on Oct. 24 at 7 p.m. at King’s Hardin Valley campus in Knoxville, Tenn. She is a Nashville folk singer who has written songs for Caedmon’s Call and others as well as recording eight albums of her own. She lists her musical influences as Joni Mitchell, Neil Finn, David Gray, Emmylou Harris, Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash.

Christian Wiman, senior lecturer in Religion and Literature at the Yale Institute of Sacred Music, will speak on Nov. 17 at 9:15 a.m. in King’s Memorial Chapel. At 7 p.m. later that evening, Wiman will be interviewed by Jane Zwart followed by a talk/reading at the Kingsport Center for Higher Education in Kingsport, Tenn. Wiman served as editor of Poetry Magazine from 2003 to 2013, is the recipient of both the Ruth Lilly and Wallace Stegner fellowships, and has produced four published books of poetry, two collections of essays, along with his most recent work, a memoir, “My Bright Abyss.”

Each season, one of the lecturer’s books serves as the campus read for the King community. This year, students, faculty, and staff will read “College: What it Was, Is, and Should Be” by Mendelson Family Chair of American Studies and Julian Clarence Levi Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University, Andrew Delbanco. Awarded the 2011 National Humanities Medal by President Barack Obama “for his writing that spans the literature of Melville and Emerson to contemporary issues in higher education.” He will speak on Dec. 3 at 7 p.m. in the Memorial Chapel and on Dec. 4 at 7 p.m. in the Student Center Complex Board Room on King’s main campus.

This year’s speaker for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Jan. 19, 2015, will be William Turner, an Appalachian Region scholar and researcher with an emphasis on the African-American experience. He co-edited the path-breaking textbook, “Blacks in Appalachia,” was a research assistant to “Roots” author Alex Haley for a decade and served both as dean of Arts Sciences and as interim president of Kentucky State University. The event is co-sponsored by Virginia Highlands Community College.

The annual Buechner Lectureship celebrating the founding of the Buechner Institute will be held on Feb. 7, 2015 at First Presbyterian Church in Bristol, Tenn., This year’s Lectureship will be given by one of the all-time bestselling evangelical writers, Philip Yancey. Yancey will be interviewed at 4 p.m. by Jim Dahlman then speak at 7 pm. A former editor and publisher, journalist, and best-selling author, Yancey says his books are for people “living on the borderlands of faith.” His work has sold more than 14 million copies since 1977. His books have been translated into 35 languages and have been distributed worldwide. Yancey is a founding member of the Buechner Institute Advisory Board.

On Feb. 16, Holocaust survivor Martin Weiss will speak at 9:15 a.m. at King’s Memorial Chapel followed by a second lecture at 7:30 p.m. at Emory Henry College Board of Visitors Lounge Van Dyke Commons in Emory, Va. Weiss, born on Jan. 28, 1929 to orthodox Jewish parents in Polana, Czechoslovakia, was one of nine children. In April 1944, Martin’s family was transported to the Munkacs ghetto and then to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, where he was selected for forced labor and his other family members were sent to the gas chambers. Martin was liberated in May 1945, and in 1946 immigrated to the United States. He speaks on behalf of the Holocaust Memorial Museum. The event is co-sponsored by Virginia Highlands Community College and Emory Henry College.

March 2015 will bring three lecturers including Guy Consolmango on March 2, Will Willimon on March 16, and Miroslav Volf on March 31. Brother Consolmango has served at the Vatican Observatory as an astronomer and curator of meteorites since 1993, and in September will become president of the Vatican Observatory Foundation. The March 2 events will take place at 9:15 a.m. in King’s Memorial Chapel and at 7 p.m. at the Kingsport Center for Higher Education in Kingsport, Tenn.

Willimon was named by Baylor University as one of the Twelve Most Effective Preachers in the English speaking world. He is Professor of the Practice of Christian Ministry at the Divinity School, Duke University, former Bishop of the North Alabama Conference of The United Methodist Church, author, and editor-at-large for The Christian Century. The Willimon events are co-sponsored by Milligan College and will take place at 9:15 a.m. at King’s Memorial Chapel and at 7 p.m. at Hyder Auditorium at Milligan College.

Miroslav Volf is the founder and director of Yale Center for Faith and Culture and a Henry B. Wright professor of Theology at Yale University Divinity School. He has written or edited 15 books and is actively involved in many top-level initiatives concerning Christian-Muslim relations and is a member of the Global Agenda Council of the World Economic Forum. The event is co-sponsored by Emory Henry College. His lectures will take place at 4:30 p.m. at Emory Henry College Board of Visitors Lounge Van Dyke Commons in Emory, Va., and at 7:30 p.m. King’s Student Center Complex Board Room.

Andrew Peterson, a singer, author, and a founding member of the Square Peg Alliance, a group of Christian songwriters will perform at 9:15 a.m. at Memorial Chapel on King’s main campus and at 7 pm. at the Bristol Train Station. His willingness to acknowledge the realities of life without ever loosening his grip on eternal hope has won him loyal fans worldwide. The events are co-sponsored by SLACK, the Student Life Activities Committee at King.

The Buechner Institute 2014-15 Lecture Series finale will be given by author, teacher, scholar, retreat leader, and a fellow of the Gaede Institute, Marilyn Chandler McEntyre. She is a poet and professor of English at Westmont College and has received several awards for outstanding teaching. Her most recent book is “What’s in a Phrase?: Pausing Where Scripture Gives You Pause.” She is a Buechner Institute National Advisory Board member. McEntyre will speak on April 20 at 7 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church in Bristol, Tenn. The event will include a book signing by McEntyre.

Most of the Buechner Institute events are free of charge, and all are open to the public. For more information on the Buechner Institute 2014-15 Lecture Series visit or the Buechner Institute fan page on Facebook.


King University is a Presbyterian, doctoral-level comprehensive university. Founded in 1867 as King College, the University offers more than 90 majors, minors, pre-professional degrees and concentrations in fields such as business, nursing, law, medical and health sciences, pharmacy, education, and humanities. Graduate programs are offered in business administration, education, and nursing. A number of research, off-campus learning opportunities, and travel destinations are also available. King University is a NCAA Division II and a Conference Carolinas member with 25 varsity sports. For more information about King University, visit King University does not discriminate against academically qualified students of any race, color, national or ethnic origin, sex, age, or disability. King University is certified by SCHEV to operate locations in Virginia. For more information, contact the King University office at Southwest Virginia Community College, 309 College Road, Richlands, VA 24641.