News Archives: School of Christian Studies

HPU to host speaker Dr. Robert Sellers for ninth annual Currie-Strickland lectures

Sellers Formal Press Shot for webBROWNWOOD – January 25, 2016 – Howard Payne University will host its ninth annual Currie-Strickland Distinguished Lectures in Christian Ethics next month with guest speaker Dr. Robert P. Sellers, professor of theology and Connally Chair of Missions at Logsdon Seminary in Abilene. The lectures are Thursday and Friday, February 11 and 12, in the Richard and Wanda Jackson Conference Room of HPU’s Paul and Jane Meyer Faith and Life Leadership Center. The lectures are free to the public and the community is welcome and encouraged to attend.

Thursday’s lecture, which begins at 7:00 p.m., is titled “Love your [Non-Christian] Neighbor as Yourself: Religious Pluralism and the Second Great Commandment.” The second lecture, to be held Friday morning at 10:00 a.m., is titled “Do Not Oppress the Foreigner or the Poor: Religious Pluralism and the Care for the Alien and Stranger.”

Dr. Sellers received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and psychology from Mississippi College as well as a Master of Divinity degree in New Testament and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in theological ethics from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. He has done postgraduate work at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand, and at Andover-Newton Theological School in Boston, Massachusetts.

For almost 25 years, Dr. Sellers and his wife, Janie, served as missionary student workers and theological educators in Java, Indonesia. Before returning to the United States, he taught ethics at the Indonesia Baptist Theological Seminary and the Asia Baptist Graduate Theological Seminary. From 1996 to 1998, he was visiting professor at Truett Seminary and in Baylor University’s religion department before beginning his tenure at Logsdon.

Dr. Sellers is a member of the Board of Trustees and the chair for the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions. He serves on the Interfaith Relations Commission of the Baptist World Alliance and is a Baptist member of a joint Baptist-Muslim Task Force that has coordinated two National Baptist-Muslim Dialogues. He is currently serving his second five-year term representing the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship on the Interfaith Relations and Collaboration Table of the National Council of Churches. Locally, he is the Protestant representative on the board of the Abilene Interfaith Council.

Janie Sellers serves as an officer on the Board of Trustees for the Baptist University of the Americas in San Antonio as well as on the Board of Consultants for the Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission. The Sellers’ children, Tyler and Marnie, were both born in Indonesia and both currently work for Texas Baptist universities.

The Currie-Strickland lecture series is made possible through the generosity of Dr. and Mrs. Gary Elliston and was established to honor the life of Dr. David R. Currie, retired executive director of Texas Baptists Committed, and the memory of Phil Strickland, who dedicated nearly 40 years of ministry to the Baptist General Convention of Texas’ Christian Life Commission.

Admission is free but reservations are requested. For reservations or more information, please contact Howard Payne University’s School of Christian Studies by e-mail at currie-strickland@hputx.edu or by phone at (325) 649-8403.

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Photo cutline: HPU will host speaker Dr. Robert Sellers during its ninth annual Currie-Strickland Distinguished Lectures in Christian Ethics.

HPU to host lectures on global religious freedom

BROWNWOOD – November 16, 2015 – Howard Payne University will host lectures by Dr. Elijah Brown, executive vice president of the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative, this Tuesday and Wednesday. The events are free and open to the public.

The 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative is a Christian organization that champions global religious freedom. The group’s mission, according to its website, is to “empower a global movement to advance religious freedom as a universal right through advocacy, capacity building and technology.”

Dr. Brown’s first discussion, “Africa and the New Testament Church,” will be held Tuesday, November 17, at 7 p.m. in the Richard and Wanda Jackson Conference Room of HPU’s Paul and Jane Meyer Faith and Life Leadership Center. He will lead a discussion on the many fascinating African connections to the New Testament and the early church.

The next morning, Dr. Brown will serve as the guest speaker for the university’s Chapel service, delivering his second lecture, “Global Religious Freedom.” He will discuss the current state of religious freedom and religious persecution around the world. Chapel begins at 10 a.m. in the university’s Mims Auditorium.

“We look forward to learning more about Dr. Brown’s global perspectives on religious freedom,” said Dr. Melody Maxwell, assistant professor of Christian studies. “You will not want to miss these opportunities to learn from and interact with him.”

HPU group experiences God’s work in South Africa

HPU group in South Africa for webBROWNWOOD – September 18, 2015 – Five Howard Payne University students and two faculty members that traveled to South Africa during the summer were reminded that God is at work – in huge ways – around the world.

Led by Dr. Melody Maxwell and Dr. Derek Hatch, both assistant professors of Christian studies, the students spent two weeks touring the country, volunteering with Christian organizations and worshipping with more than 2,500 Baptists from around the globe at the 21st Baptist World Congress. They joined more than 60 other individuals from Baptist churches across the United States in serving through the South Africa Ministry Network.

The trip is a component of Dr. Maxwell’s International Missions Practicum, a capstone course for cross-cultural studies majors. The students spent the semester before they left learning about short-term missions and the history, culture and people of South Africa.

“One of the most exciting aspects of the trip was seeing things that we had learned about in class,” said Rachel Ellington, senior from Garland, mentioning sites such as the Apartheid Museum and Lesedi Cultural Village. “The world is a much bigger place than I thought. God is much more creative and the church is much more diverse than I ever dreamed.”

The group spent the first week working with the Refilwe Community Project near an informal settlement north of Johannesburg. Refilwe is a multivalent Christian organization that focuses on child care, community care and skills development.

Dr. Maxwell said the HPU group got to experience a bit of many of the ministries Refilwe has to offer such as farming, child care, kids clubs and more.

“It was a really incredible opportunity for us all to see how God was at work and how we could participate in God’s work,” she said.

The next several days were spent participating in the Baptist World Congress. The host of the event, the Baptist World Alliance, is a fellowship of Baptist believers comprised of 42 million members from 121 countries and territories.

“Experiencing the Congress really expands your boundaries and understanding of the global church,” said Dr. Maxwell.

Scripture was read or presented in approximately 25 different languages during the worship services.

“The Congress’ location on the African continent promised to bring a great deal of diversity to its attendance,” said Dr. Hatch. “I think it really made good on that promise.”

The students were required to seek out people from other cultures to learn about life and Christianity around the world.

“Getting to share life and experiences with people from all over the world was such a remarkable and eye-opening experience for me,” said Mikayla Warren, senior from Salado. “The trip was full of a lifetime of stories and memories and friendships.”

Among the things they learned from leaders of the South Africa Ministry Network was to embrace a “pilgrim’s posture.”

“People go on pilgrimages to seek the presence of God in other places,” said Dr. Hatch. “We weren’t going to bring Christ to South Africa but to encounter Christ in South Africa. He was already working there.”

The Congress served as a good reminder of Christ’s actions around the world.

“It’s really powerful to worship with brothers and sisters in Christ, saying the Lord’s Prayer in your own language and hearing everyone in the room do the same,” said Dr. Maxwell. “It’s fascinating to watch the room explode with dancing and singing and music from different cultures. It’s a privilege for us to be able to travel with, learn from and serve alongside the global Christian community.”

Lance Rhodes, senior from Corsicana, said the trip reminded him of his calling and passion for missions.

“This course rekindled the previously forgotten passion in my heart to go among the nations and proclaim the glory and the grace of Christ,” he said.

Additional students on the trip included Cristalyn Fitzgerald, senior from Burleson, and Paul Warren, May 2015 graduate from Salado.

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Photo cutline: While in South Africa, HPU students and faculty met up with HPU alumni Dr. Chris and Mrs. Cindy Liebrum who were also attending the Baptist World Congress. Left to right: Cindy Liebrum, Cristalyn Fitzgerald, Paul Warren, Lance Rhodes, Mikayla Warren, Dr. Derek Hatch, Rachel Ellington, Dr. Melody Maxwell and Dr. Chris Liebrum.

HPU hosts BGCT’s Super Summer camp for Texas youth

super summer 2015 for webBROWNWOOD – July 21, 2015 – Howard Payne University recently hosted the Baptist General Convention of Texas’ Super Summer camp, a weeklong event designed to foster leadership skills in young Christians. In addition to hundreds of Texas youth, approximately 65 HPU alumni, students, faculty and staff members participated in the camp.

Youth ministers from churches across the state – 18 of them HPU alumni or graduate students – brought students to the camp. Additional Super Summer camps are hosted by other Texas Baptist universities throughout the summer.

At least nine of the young people who attended HPU’s Super Summer will start classes at the university in the fall.

Camp youth are divided into schools, designated by colors, based on their ages. This year, HPU was one of only two universities to also include a Purple School, which provides preparation for students who feel called to vocational Christian ministry. Dr. Rusty Wheelington, associate professor of Christian studies at HPU, served as dean of the Purple School.

“Spending a week with some of the best youth ministers and students across the state is always encouraging and a blessing,” said Dr. Wheelington. “This year we even had one student from Haiti. Super Summer is a week of intense teaching and training to help students become more effective leaders, disciples and sharers of the Gospel in their schools, communities and homes.”

According to Dr. Gary Gramling ’81, professor of Christian studies and director of HPU’s Christian studies graduate programs, other students also recognized God calling them to ministry throughout the week.

“I met two students who were not a part of Purple School who sensed during the week that God is calling them to vocational Christian ministry,” he said. “What a privilege for HPU to host such a week where God is at work in the hearts of so many students. I can’t imagine anything that would bring greater joy to the hearts of those who founded our university than to know the campus is being used for such events.”

Chuck Gartman ’72, adjunct instructor in HPU’s School of Christian Studies and minister of education/leadership development at Field Street Baptist Church in Cleburne, served as dean of Super Summer’s Leadership Forum at HPU.

“Howard Payne’s Leadership Forum at Super Summer continues to be a breath of fresh air for me personally as I facilitate this process,” he said. “Leaders have the opportunity to hear from some of our state’s best youth leaders and are also able to express concerns or sources of praise in their own settings. I’m privileged to be a part of this great opportunity for youth leaders around our state.”

Natalie Stary ’03, HPU admission counselor, coordinated HPU’s camp this year.

“Super Summer has had a huge impact on Baptist students for more than 40 years,” she said. “Super Summer at HPU will always be special to me because I attended as a student 19 years ago.”

It was during that time, Stary said, she felt called to ministry and to become a student at HPU.

“I feel very honored to get to now serve in a leadership role with the planning and implementation of Super Summer at Howard Payne,” she said. “The Lord continues to use Super Summer and HPU to train up future generations of Texas Baptists for His service locally and around the world.”

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Photo cutline: Super Summer campers gather near HPU’s Old Main Tower.

Six HPU students recognized for servant leadership

By Chandler Condra, HPU senior

BROWNWOOD – May 18, 2015 – Howard Payne University recently honored six students for their display of servant leadership on campus and in the community. Students were recognized for their service and received awards during the university’s annual Servant Leadership Program.

nat tracy awards 2015 for webThe Nat Tracy Servant Leader Award was presented to Christopher Burnett, a senior music-instrumental major from Early, and Paula Johnson, a senior social work major from Spring. The award was established in 1998 to honor the life of the late Dr. Nat Tracy, a member of HPU’s Bible faculty from 1950 to 1975.

HPU Servant Leadership Award recipients included Shaefer Church, a junior Bible major from Bloomfield, N.M.; Victoria Hardin, a senior psychology major from Bangs; Brogan Turner, a senior psychology major from Brownwood; and Courtney Turner, a junior communication major from Bastrop.

A $1,000 scholarship is provided to each recipient of the Servant Leadership Award and each student designates $250 of the scholarship award to be given to his or her chosen charity. This award, established in 2007 by the Moore Foundation and Barney II Foundation, recognizes student excellence in the areas of leadership and service.

servant leader awards 2015 for web“These students embody the servant leadership qualities demonstrated to us by Jesus Christ,” said Dr. Donnie Auvenshine, professor of Christian studies and dean of the School of Christian Studies. “It is our pleasure to give attention to those students who have faithfully and humbly served others with no desire for recognition.”

Nominations for both awards were made during the spring semester by HPU faculty, staff and students. Awards were presented by Dr. Auvenshine and Dr. Bill Ellis, HPU president.

“Many institutions recognize outstanding leadership qualities, but it is rare to reward those who lead through acts of service to others,” said Dr. Auvenshine. “It is our privilege to encourage these students and others to continue serving mankind.”

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Photo cutlines: Six HPU students were recently honored for their display of servant leadership on campus and in the community.

Recipients of the Nat Tracy Servant Leader Award include Christopher Burnett, left, and Paula Johnson.

Recipients of the HPU Servant Leadership Award include, from left, Victoria Hardin, Shaefer Church, Brogan Turner and Courtney Turner.

HPU’s Currie-Strickland lectures warn of “segregated Christianity”

Dr Willie James Jennings for webBROWNWOOD – February 19, 2015 – “Our witness as Christians is not to change others, but to change ourselves and, in so doing, invite others to do the same,” said the Reverend Dr. Willie James Jennings, guest speaker at Howard Payne University’s eighth annual Currie-Strickland Distinguished Lectures in Christian Ethics held recently on campus. “We became disciples by learning and we can make disciples by learning as well.”

Dr. Jennings, associate professor of theology and black church studies at Duke University Divinity School, spoke on “Being Christian in Racial America.”

When asked by a student why he chose to devote his studies to that topic, Dr. Jennings responded that he has always been intrigued by “segregated Christianity.”

“We sing the same hymns, say the same prayers and read the same Bible,” said Dr. Jennings, referring to Christians of various races. “Yet, in some instances, we feel as though we can’t be in the same room together.”

Dr. Donnie Auvenshine, dean of HPU’s School of Christian Studies and professor of Christian studies, said Dr. Jennings’ lectures were a great reminder to Christians of all races and backgrounds.

“Dr. Jennings’ lectures were quite thought-provoking,” he said. “Many of us will continue to reflect on his association of imperialistic ideals and agendas and ownership and control of land with racial prejudices. In relating to people of various races, we who profess a relationship with Christ need to act like our Lord acted.”

currie strickland scholars 2015 for webDuring the lectures, four HPU seniors were recognized as Currie-Strickland Scholars in Christian Ethics and Theology. Receiving the award were Samuel Marich-Edwan of Arlington, Jessi Jordan of Spurger, Paul Warren of Salado and Kelsan Wolverton of Lampasas.

“These students have excelled in their work in Christian studies and we’re proud to honor them for their achievements,” said Dr. Derek Hatch, assistant professor of Christian studies.

The Currie-Strickland lecture series is made possible through the generosity of Dr. and Mrs. Gary Elliston and was established to honor the life of Dr. David R. Currie, retired executive director of Texas Baptists Committed, and the memory of Phil Strickland, who dedicated nearly 40 years of ministry to the Baptist General Convention of Texas’ Christian Life Commission.

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Photo cutlines: The Reverend Dr. Willie James Jennings discusses “Being Christian in Racial America” during HPU’s eighth annual Currie-Strickland Distinguished Lectures in Christian Ethics.

Four HPU students were recognized as Currie-Strickland Scholars in Christian Ethics and Theology. Left to right: Kelsan Wolverton, Samuel Marich-Edwan, Jessi Jordan, Paul Warren and Dr. Donnie Auvenshine, dean of HPU’s School of Christian Studies and professor of Christian studies.

HPU youth ministry conference to address “The Elephants in the Room”

Perspective rectangle logoBROWNWOOD – February 16, 2015 – Howard Payne University will host its annual Perspectives on Youth Ministry Conference tomorrow and Wednesday, February 17 and 18. The conference is open to all youth ministry personnel at a cost of $45, which includes five conferences, round-table discussions, one dinner and one breakfast. The cost for students is $25.

Themed “The Elephants in the Room,” the conference will address some of the most difficult and least discussed issues in youth ministry including pornography, incarcerated youth, abuse and teenage sexuality/identity. Additional topics include opportunities for progress such as women in ministry and the growing Hispanic population.

“While they present new challenges, churches need to be prepared to minister to students who are dealing with these types of issues,” said Dr. Gary Gramling, professor of Christian studies and director of HPU’s Christian studies graduate programs. “We’ve gathered insightful speakers who will offer fresh approaches to these topics.”

Guest speakers include Pamela Culbertson, veteran youth minister from Dallas; Dan Humeniuk, assistant professor of social work and chair of HPU’s Department of Criminal Justice, Social Work and Sociology; Lynn Humeniuk, associate professor of criminal justice and sociology and director of HPU’s criminal justice program; Paul Irby, therapist at Ministry of Counseling and Enrichment in Abilene; Dr. Allen Jackson, professor of youth education and collegiate ministry at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary; Dr. Jimmy Myers, adolescent counselor at The Timothy Center in Austin; Dr. Gus Reyes, director of the Christian Life Commission of the Baptist General Convention of Texas; and Marisha Tyler, marriage and family therapist in Lubbock.

A complete schedule of events, registration information and more details are available at www.hputx.edu/perspectives. Event organizers may be reached at (325) 649-8039 or via e-mail at lbledsoe@hputx.edu.

HPU Currie-Strickland lectures to address Christianity, race in America

jennings for webBROWNWOOD – January 16, 2015 – “Being Christian in Racial America” is the topic for Howard Payne University’s upcoming eighth annual Currie-Strickland Distinguished Lectures in Christian Ethics. The lectures will take place Thursday, February 12, and Friday, February 13, and are free to the public.

The Reverend Dr. Willie James Jennings, associate professor of theology and black church studies at Duke University Divinity School, will serve as this year’s guest speaker.

Thursday’s lecture, titled “The Risk of Being Christian in Racial America: Part One,” will begin at 7:30 p.m. Dr. Jennings will deliver part two of the lecture on Friday beginning at 10 a.m. Both discussions will be held in the Richard and Wanda Jackson Conference Room of HPU’s Paul and Jane Meyer Faith and Life Leadership Center.

Dr. Donnie Auvenshine, dean of HPU’s School of Christian Studies and professor of Christian studies, emphasized the timeliness of Dr. Jennings’ lectures.

“As recent events have so poignantly demonstrated, race relations continues to be a serious issue in America,” said Dr. Auvenshine. “It is essential that Christians learn to work together to improve relations among the people of our country and our world, because all people are created by God and deeply loved by Him.”

Born and raised in Grand Rapids, Mich., Dr. Jennings received his Bachelor of Arts degree in religion and theological studies from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, his Master of Divinity degree from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif.; and his Doctor of Philosophy degree from Duke University in Durham, N.C. Dr. Jennings, a systematic theologian, teaches in the areas of theology, black church and cultural studies, as well as post-colonial and race theory.

The author of numerous articles, Dr. Jennings’s recent work, The Christian Imagination: Theology and the Origins of Race, published by Yale University Press, won the 2011 American Academy of Religion award for best book and is now becoming a standard text read in colleges, seminaries and universities. Dr. Jennings is also the recipient of the 2014 Grawemeyer Award in Religion for his groundbreaking work on race and Christianity.

In addition to being a frequent lecturer at colleges, universities and seminaries, Dr. Jennings is also a regular workshop leader at pastor conferences. He is a consultant for the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion, and for the Association of Theological Schools.

He serves along with his wife, the Reverend Joanne L. Browne Jennings, as an associate minister at the Mount Level Baptist Church in Durham, N.C. For many years, Dr. Jennings and Rev. Joanne Jennings served as interim pastors for several Presbyterian and Baptist churches in North Carolina. The Jennings have two daughters, Njeri and Safiya.

The Currie-Strickland lecture series is made possible through the generosity of Dr. and Mrs. Gary Elliston and was established to honor the life of Dr. David R. Currie, retired executive director of Texas Baptists Committed, and the memory of Phil Strickland, who dedicated nearly 40 years of ministry to the Baptist General Convention of Texas’ Christian Life Commission.

Admission is free but reservations are requested. For reservations or more information, please contact Howard Payne University’s School of Christian Studies by e-mail at currie-strickland@hputx.edu or by phone at (325) 649-8403.

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Photo cutline: The Reverend Dr. Willie James Jennings will address the topic “Being Christian in Racial America” during HPU’s eighth annual Currie-Strickland lectures.

HPU to host Christian studies lecturer Kim Williams Bodenhamer

Kim Williams BodenhamerBROWNWOOD – November 13, 2014 – Howard Payne University’s School of Christian Studies will host guest lecturer Kim Williams Bodenhamer, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Religion at Baylor University, next Tuesday, November 18, at 7:30 p.m. The lecture, which is free and open to the public, will be held in the Richard and Wanda Jackson Conference Room of HPU’s Paul and Jane Meyer Faith and Life Leadership Center.

Bodenhamer’s lecture is titled “The Image of God in the Old Testament.” Originally from Comanche, she graduated from Hardin-Simmons University in 2008 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in biblical studies and a minor in biblical languages.

During her time at HSU, she spent a semester studying Greek and the synoptic Gospels at Oxford University. She went on to earn a Master of Theological Studies degree from Duke Divinity School in 2010.

Bodenhamer has worked toward her doctoral degree at Baylor University since 2010 with a focus on Hebrew Bible. She has presented numerous papers at scholarly conferences and is active in Baptist life, including the group Baptist Women in Ministry.

“We’re pleased to welcome Kim Williams Bodenhamer and offer our students and the community the opportunity to hear her views of the way God is presented in the Old Testament,” said Dr. Derek Hatch, assistant professor of Christian studies.

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Photo cutline: Kim Williams Bodenhamer will discuss “The Image of God in the Old Testament.”

HPU to host Raquel Contreras of Baptist World Alliance

BROWNWOOD – October 31, 2014 – Howard Payne University welcomes the community to campus next week as guest speaker Raquel Contreras tells stories and imparts knowledge from experiences gained as president of the women’s department of the Baptist World Alliance and as general director of Editorial Mundo Hispano in El Paso.

There are three opportunities to hear Contreras speak. On Tuesday, November 4, at 7 p.m., she will host a discussion titled “Women of the World” in the Jackson Room of HPU’s Faith and Life Leadership Center. The audience will hear stories of Baptist women from around the world and pray together for them.

Contreras will also be the featured speaker at HPU’s weekly Chapel service at 10 a.m. on Wednesday morning at the university’s Mims Auditorium. Later that morning, at 11:30 a.m., she will discuss her experiences in Chile and across Latin America. The final discussion will also be held in the Jackson Room.

“We’re so excited to host Raquel Contreras on campus as she shares stories that can only be gained from firsthand experience,” said Dr. Melody Maxwell, assistant professor of Christian studies. “This is a great opportunity for our students and for the community as well. We hope many people make plans to attend.”