interior static banner

King Institute for Faith and Culture to Peer “Into the Spaces of Wonder” During Upcoming 2015-16 Lecture Series

BRISTOL, Tenn., Aug. 13, 2015 –A child’s sense of wonder can help us reframe our own view of the world. Occasionally, we as adults move past the mundane of everyday living and, for a moment, adopt a child-like view of the world, with a renewed sense of amazement and wonder. On Wednesday, Aug. 26 Nicholas Wolterstorff will kick off the King University Institute for Faith and Culture’s 2015-16 lecture series in which 15 speakers and performers will invite us “Into the Spaces of Wonder.”

The King Institute for Faith and Culture, formerly the Buechner Institute at King University, seeks to provide a place for all those working to elevate discussion, a place to share explorations with like-minded seekers.

Shannon Harris, interim director of the King Institute for Faith and Culture said, “The 2015-16 program of the King Institute for Faith and Culture brings us into thoughtful encounters with artists, theologians, philosophers, musicians, poets, historians, and writers about the possibilities of re-enchantment, of recognizing and living into those hospitable spaces where mystery and wonder, redemption and revelation, transcendence and creation may be found.”

“King University has made the decision to expand its commitment to the conversation of faith and culture of which Frederick Buechner played a pivotal role, and because of that, we are offering the Frederick Buechner Keynote Lecture for the opening convocation of the King University Institute for Faith and Culture,” said Matt Roberts, vice president for Academic Affairs. “The expansion of the Institute reflects the breadth and cross-disciplinarian landscape set forth by the Institute’s founder, the late Dale Brown.”

Brown once said, “We have too many channels these days, of course. So many distractions dull our sense of inquisitiveness, our capacity for hope, our faith in positive change.” Brown went on to say the Institute “programs aim at keeping the virtues of wonder and contemplation alive. In a whirl of diversion, we offer these moments of focused consideration, opportunities for reflection.”

On Aug. 26, the Frederick Buechner Keynote Lecture, and opening convocation, will be presented by Nicholas Wolterstorff, a noted philosopher, writer, and popular lecturer on a broad range of philosophical and theological topics. Retired since 2002, he was the Noah Porter Professor of Philosophical Theology at Yale University, where he taught for 13 years. He has published numerous articles and books, including “Religion and the Schools,” “On Universals,” “Reason within the Bounds of Religion,” and “Lament for a Son.”

In addition to Wolterstorff, the speaker lineup for fall 2015 will include Mark Edmundson, author and professor of English at the University of Virginia; Scott Cairns, noted memoirist, translator, and poet; Jes Kast-Keat, progressive minister in New York City, constructive theologian, and pop culture aficionado; Brent Strawn, prolific author and popular speaker on ancient Near Eastern iconography, the Dead Sea Scrolls, Israelite religion, and Old Testament theology; and Jesuit Brother Guy Consolmagno, a native of Detroit, Mich., serving as the Vatican astronomer, president of the Vatican Observatory Foundation, and curator of the Vatican meteorite collection in Castel Gandolfo.

A concert at the Bristol Train Station by noted Christian singer-songwriter, musician, author, and radio host Michael Card will cap off the fall 2015 presentations. Card, who has penned such favorites as “El Shaddai,” “Love Crucified Arose,” and “Emmanuel,” has sold more than four million albums and penned over 19 number-one hits.

Matthew C. Whitaker will kick off the spring lectures on Jan. 18, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Whitaker is a writer, editor, and noted international lecturer on U.S. history, African American history and life, civil rights, race relations, and social movements. The anniversary lecture will be presented by Mako Fujimura, internationally recognized artist whose work fuses techniques of Western abstraction with traditional Nihonga painting. Other spring speakers include Amy-Jill Levine, professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt University Divinity School, where she also directs the Carpenter Program in Religion, Gender, and Sexuality; Martin Weiss, Holocaust survivor; Luke Powery, dean of Duke University Chapel and associate professor of the practice of homiletics at Duke Divinity School; Daniel Taylor, noted author and popular international speaker on issues related to story, values, character, faith, and contemporary culture; and Grant Wacker, noted author of  “America’s Pastor: Billy Graham and the Shaping of a Nation.”

Author and Calvin College Professor of Philosophy and Theology James K. A. Smith will present two lectures on April 11 as the Institute’s season finale. The Ontario native’s most recent books include “Who’s Afraid of Relativism?” and “How (Not) To Be Secular: Reading Charles Taylor.”

Located between shrill sectarianism and abject secularism, the Institute for Faith and Culture will continue to cultivate a conversation that is both artful and substantial. “It is important to have a range of perspectives in order to have meaningful reflection about topics that affect people of faith today,” said Harris. “We are truly excited to continue to bring this rich array of speakers and performers. We welcome everyone to come into the spaces of wonder, and see what you might find.”

Nicholas Wolterstorff will present “What’s a College Education For?” as the Frederick Buechner Keynote Lecture during the opening convocation on Wednesday, Aug. 26 at 9:15 a.m. in King’s Memorial Chapel. That evening, a reception will be held at the Bristol Train Station at 6:30 p.m. on Aug. 26 to celebrate the new King University Institute for Faith and Culture. Speakers will include Nick Wolterstorff, Dr. Richard A. Ray, interim president at King University, Matt Roberts, and Shannon Harris. Wolterstorff will also conduct a book signing at the event.

Visit for additional information on the King University Institute for Faith and Culture and its 2015-16 lecture series, or contact Interim Director Shannon Harris at, 423-652-4836, or 423-747-3524.


King University is a Presbyterian-affiliated, 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 on SCHEV certification, contact the King University office at Southwest Virginia Community College, 309 College Road, Richlands, VA 24641.