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Six students recognized at HPU’s Currie-Strickland lectures

BROWNWOOD – February 9, 2024 – Howard Payne University honored six students as Currie-Strickland Scholars during the 16th annual Currie-Strickland Distinguished Lectures in Christian Ethics, held recently on the HPU campus. The event featured guest lecturer Rev. Elijah M. Brown, Ph.D., general secretary of the Baptist World Alliance.

Students honored were Heath Cook, a senior from Richmond majoring in Christian education; Cody Feist, a senior from Comanche majoring in Christian education; Lexi Gonzalez, a junior from Idalou majoring in social work; Silas Ingram, a junior from Cisco majoring in practical theology; Alexis Lively, a senior from Olton majoring in youth ministry; and Nicole Rivera, a senior from Comanche majoring in Christian education and English.

The event was coordinated by Jordan Villanueva, instructor of Christian Studies and assistant to the president for Hispanic relations.

“It was an honor to host the general secretary of the Baptist World Alliance here on campus,” Villanueva shared. “This was an unprecedented event for Howard Payne University.”

Throughout the week, Rev. Brown shared with several groups around campus, including students, HPU personnel and local pastors. He also spoke at HPU’s Wednesday morning Chapel service.

“This year, we adjusted the usual schedule to help better accomplish the original objectives of the lecture series, which included engaging students, faculty and staff, and the general public,” Villanueva explained. “This installment of the lectures was focused on getting Dr. Brown in front of all three of these groups as effectively as possible.”

The theme of Rev. Brown’s presentation was “Peace in Persecution: Stories of Baptist Efforts from the Front Lines,” which highlighted the experiences of Baptists around the world and urged listeners to live with Kingdom courage in the face of emerging challenges.

Rev. Brown’s specialties are in human rights and religious liberty. His dissertation focused on issues related to world Christianity, including mission and church growth, peacebuilding and conflict resolution, and the interaction of religion and politics. He has researched and led training events in human rights advocacy and has conducted human rights advocacy work in several countries. He has submitted reports to the United Nations, the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, and numerous foundations and groups. He and his wife, Amy, have three children: Hudson, Sahara and Keziah.

“I am grateful to everyone who was involved in making these lectures happen,” Villanueva said. “It was truly a collective effort, of which I am honored to be a part.”

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.


Cutline #1: Pictured are Currie-Strickland Scholars Heath Cook of Richmond, Cody Feist of Comanche, Lexi Gonzalez of Idalou, Silas Ingram of Cisco and Alexis Lively of Olton. Nicole Rivera of Comanche was also honored, but unable to attend.

Cutline #2: Rev. Elijah M. Brown, Ph.D., speaks during HPU’s 16th annual Currie-Strickland Distinguished Lectures in Christian Ethics.