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King University News :: King’s First BuechnerFest Successful

King College and the Buechner Institute welcomed visitors from around the country May 30 through June 3 for the first BuechnerFest.  Attendees spending their vacation with books enjoyed five days of programs, presentations, and conversation on the works of novelist and theologian Frederick Buechner. 

“We were delighted with the turn out for this event,” said Dale Brown, director of the Buechner Institute at King College.  “There were over 50 who joined us for the week long celebration of Buechner’s works.  Attendees hailed from locales such as Tacoma, Boston, Michigan, and Florida.  They reflected many ages and diverse experience but had a common interest in thoughtful conversation about important matters.

“I was also pleased by the number of recent graduates of King College who participated,” commented Brown.  “The support staff included three current students: Jessica Roberts, Maggie Rust, and Elizabeth Owens.”

Registrants looked at five Buechner books in three genres: The Sacred Journey, Eyes of the Heart, Lion Country, Godric, and Telling the Truth.  The presentations were followed by discussions with several events planned for simple rest and enjoyment—the theater, a bike ride, walking, and picnicking.

“After five days, we were tired but gratified,” said Brown.  “One conferee said simply, ‘you change lives.’  I think that comment was aimed at the whole of King College.  That was more or less my sense of the event.  It turned out to be a remarkable few days for these visitors to our campus, and the staff—it takes so many departments and people for an event like this—should take a great deal of satisfaction in the achievement.

Members of the Institute’s National Advisory Board offered their reflections on Buechner’s work as part of the five day event.  Leading presenters included William Evertsberg, a Presbyterian minister from Greenwich, Conn.; Tom Gulotta, film producer, director, writer, and music industry consultant; Jennifer Holberg, a professor of English at Calvin College and chair of the Buechner Institute Board;  Jeff Munroe, vice president for Advancement and Communication at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Mich.; Charles “Chip” Pollard, president of John Brown University; and Brown, a recognized expert on the work of Frederick Buechner.

In addition to the presenters, there was a musical presentation by Ed Snodderly, a play at the Barter Theater “Looking Over the President’s Shoulder,” and discussion sessions led by local board members: Shannon Harris, Don Hudson, and Tim Ross.   

I'm so pleased to have been part of the inaugural Buechnerfest,” said Jennifer Holberg, chair of the Buechner Institute National Advisory Board and professor of English for Calvin College.  “It was wonderful to meet fellow readers from across the country and to hear the excellent collection of speakers provide new insight into the work of Frederick Buechner.  The fellowship and conversation were a great joy.

“This is the sort of event that brings us into a larger conversation on issues of faith and art, and I am grateful to my many colleagues who helped make it happen,” said Brown.

The Buechner Institute Board will meet later this summer to discuss the possibility of moving forward with some version of the BuechnerFest as an annual event.

For more information on the Buechner Institute, visit www.buechnerinstitute.org or contact Dale Brown at wdbrown@king.edu