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King University News :: "In the Grand Scheme of Things"

In the Grand Scheme of Things is the theme for the 2011-2012 Buechner Institute Lecture Series at King College.  Here we are, four years old already, and excited again about all of the good people and important ideas we are bringing to the Tri-Cities in coming months, says Dale Brown, director of the Buechner Institute at King College.  Founded in 2007, the Institute aims to address issues of faith and culture for audiences in the region. 

The fall line-up included an enlightening opening convocation in September by Richard Ray, followed up by a Labor Day concert with David Wilcox, critically acclaimed folk musician, singer-songwriter, and guitarist.  October's lecturer's included NPR Religion commentator, Barbara Brown Hagerty; interim vice chancellor/director of athletics at the University of Tennessee, Joan Cronan; and assistant professor of Christian spirituality from Duke Divinity School and noted author of Girl Meets God, Lauren Winner.

In anticipation of Lauren Winner's visit to campus, King's Office of Student Affairs partnered with the Buechner Institute in sponsoring a community read initiative, said Matt Peltier, dean of students for King College.  Our goal is for the entire campus to join in reading 'Girl Meets God' and to engage in a campus-wide conversation about Winner’s story... and our own stories.

The spring 2012 program will begin with the celebration of the Institute's anniversary on January 28 with the Buechner Lectureship.  Past lectureship speakers have been Frederick Buechner, Barbara Brown Taylor, Ron Hansen, and Katherine Paterson.  The 2012 guest will be Pulitzer Prize winning author Marilynne Robinson.  The spring program will follow-up with visits by Roberta Ahmansen, philanthropist and author; Jaqueline Mendels Birn, a Holocaust survivor representing the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum; Iain Torrance, the president of Princeton Theological Seminary; and author Andy Crouch. 

The Institute will close its year with a major event featuring New York Times bestselling author Jan Karon of Mitford fame.  Her series of novels featuring Father Tim, an Episcopal priest, and the fictional village of Mitford, North Carolina, have sold more than 25 million copies.

We have too many channels these days, says Brown, and so many distractions and diversions have, perhaps, blunted our curiosity.  The work of the Buechner Institute is to offer opportunities for focused consideration, opportunities for reflection. In the grand scheme of things, ideas matter.  We hope audiences will take advantage of this distinctive series of offering in our own neighborhood.

Most of the Institute's events are free, and all are open to the public.  For more information on the Buechner Institute and available programs, visit