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Montreat, N.C. – Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, Montreat Conference
Center was the site for the second annual BuechnerFest. Sponsored by the Buechner
(Beek-ner) Institute at King University, the four-day event, held May 30 through June
2, was resounding success.
With more than 70 in attendance from California to North Carolina, BuechnerFest featured
three days of enjoyment and discussion of the work and career of the award-winning
writer and Presbyterian minister Frederick Buechner.
“The stories we heard from the front of the room as well as those we heard from across
the dining room tables or on the walk around the lake will breathe and live as we
move on into our days,” said Dale Brown, director of the Buechner Institute and chair
of the English department at King University.
The symposium offered something for both long-time readers of Buechner and people
who may have never read Buechner but were interested in conversations that center
on contemporary issues related to faith and culture. The daily schedule of BuechnerFest
featured presentations, discussions, entertainment, and opportunities for enjoying
the local fare.
“There was an aspect of fellowship during BuechnerFest, where participants felt they
connected with others of like minds,” said Shannon Harris, associate professor of
History for King University. “This was a distinctive event that combined a kind of
spiritual fellowship with a high level of academia. It was an extraordinary group
of people. For me personally, it was a real opportunity to open another world to
myself, to deepen and increase my own knowledge.”
Harris continued, “In a culture where people disperse so often, BuechnerFest was a
unique moment where people were able not only to come together and get to know one
another but also immerse themselves in the subject matter.”
Participants noted the retreat as excellent, superb, enriching, and impactful. One
participant commented that the experience was very motivating and encouraging in the
midst of the current cultural and political climate.
“Buechnerfest 2013 was such a delight,” commented Jennifer Holberg, professor of English
for Calvin College and chair of the Buechner Institute’s National Advisory Board.
“It was exciting to see our numbers more than double this year. The speakers were
uniformly excellent and provided so much insight into Frederick Buechner's writing.
I think whether you were a lifelong fan or were new to Buechner's work; you learned
something. I really enjoyed the fellowship among the participants and the beauty
of the North Carolina Mountains. And the extras--the storytelling as well as the
concert by John McCutcheon--were the icing on the cake! Dale Brown along with members
of the Buechner Institute Governing Board did a wonderful job both in planning and
hosting the event.”
“There's no question that the program was first rate,” said Craig McDonald, professor
of English for King University. “The speakers gave voice to a range of responses
to Buechner's writing--the personal, the homiletic, and the scholarly--providing models
as to how we might read any work, not just Buechner's, more thoughtfully and more
fully. And through the evenings' entertainment--a performance of Jo Carson's delightfully
quirky, yet subtly powerful ‘The Two Charlies;’ and music by the master John McCutcheon--we
travelled into other richly imagined worlds. But for me, some of the most gratifying
moments of the conference were with other attendees, who were remarkably open to conversations
about matters of the mind and heart. With Buechner priming the pump in such an otherworldly
setting as Montreat, the Fest was truly a feast of the spirit.”
Following the BuechnerFest at Montreat, the Buechner Institute is busy preparing for
the 2013-2014 Buechner Lecture Series. This fall, the Buechner Institute will feature
its first Focus on Appalachian Culture Sept. 9-13 with speakers to include Emily Satterwhite,
professor of Religion and Culture at Virginia Tech University; Ron Rash, novelist,
short story writer, and poet; and a performance of one of Rash’s stories by Barbara
Bates Smith. Other confirmed lecturers for the 2013-2014 series include Thaddeus
Kozinski, professor of Humanities at Wyoming Catholic College; Tim Brown, Henry Bast
professor of Preaching at Western Theological Seminary; Todd Shy, teacher, book critic,
and curriculum expert; and Frank DeFord, NPR commentator and sports analyst.
The Buechner Institute anniversary lecturer will be Patricia Hampl, memoirist and
McKnight Distinguished Professor at the University of Minnesota. Hampl’s most recent
book, “The Florist’s Daughter,” (Mariner Books, Jan. 2009) was the winner of numerous
“best” and “year-end” awards, including the New York Times “100 Notable Books of the
Year, and the 2008 Minnesota Book Award for Memoir and Creative Nonfiction.
For more information on the Buechner Institute and upcoming events, visit www.buechnerinstitute.org, or contact Dale Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423.652.4156.
King University is a Presbyterian, master's-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 athletic teams. For more information
about King University, visit www.king.edu. 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.