Lindsey Wilson Celebrates UM Heritage

November 13, 2009

COLUMBIA, Ky. -- Lindsey Wilson College was founded at the dawn of the 20th century. In October LWC students, faculty, and staff gathered in V.P. Henry Auditorium – one of the college’s oldest spaces – to pledge that the college will be a “model” United Methodist institution in the 21st century.

“We affirm our commitment to the church by respecting, by honoring and providing scholarly, theological teaching of religion in the Christian tradition within our curriculum,” LWC President William T. Luckey Jr. said. “We pledge to strive to be the model United Methodist Church college or university in the 21st century.”

Luckey’s comments came during the college’s annual Church College Celebration Day, a day each fall when the LWC community celebrates its Methodist heritage and explores what it means to be a church-related college.

“We take being church-related serious,” Chaplain Troy Elmore said during the ceremony in V.P. Henry Auditorium.

Lindsey Wilson was established in 1903 by the Methodist Episcopal Church, South as a training school for Vanderbilt University.

The Rev. Darren Brandon, who serves as superintendent of the UMC’s Columbia District, said LWC’s mission of serving “every student, every day” is a good match with the UMC’s four areas of focus.

“The educational mission of Lindsey Wilson fits well with the (church’s) four areas of focus: developing leaders, creating places for new people, eliminating poverty, and improving global health,” he said.

The mission’s essence – “every student, every day” – also “sheds light on our humanity,” Brandon said.

“It helps us see clearly and in new ways,” he said. “Most importantly, it helps us see each other better.”

Because Lindsey Wilson embraces its church heritage, the college has not become what Dean of the Chapel Terry Swan called a “shadow college,” a once strong church-related institution that has drifted from its roots.

“This is who we are here. This service helps unveil the soul of our community,” Swan said in his message, titled “Mission or Shadow Mission.”

After reading James Tunstead Burtchaell’s survey about U.S. church-related colleges, The Dying of the Light: The Disengagement of Colleges and Universities from Their Christian Churches, Swan said he has realized the strength of LWC’s commitment to remaining a church-related college.

“Not here, not now, and not on our watch,” Swan said was his reaction after reading Burtchaell’s book. At Lindsey Wilson “we have a president, a cabinet, and a board of trustees that have that desire … to be most intentionally church-related. We want the college to be a place of true academic freedom, of truth-speakers and truth-seekers. People who speak the truth in love, with clarity and charity.”

Being faith-friendly is essential to being a strong church-related college, Swan said.

“A big part of our heritage and a great part of our mission is being a faith-friendly community,” he said. “And that goes even beyond being respectful; it means we are receptive to faith here. It is an atmosphere we create, we don’t force it – it is a welcoming, it is an openness.”

Swan said LWC is also blessed to have faculty and staff who are committed to the college’s mission.

“The persons who make up the Lindsey Wilson faculty and staff are the very best of people,” Swan said. “It is not just a job – it is a calling, it is a vocation where their life’s mission intersects with the college mission. They are exemplars, and I am so proud of that.”

 Lindsey Wilson College

LWC Dean of the Chapel Terry Swan

Columbia District Superintendent Darren Brandon