To better acquaint ourselves with our assignment in Alabama, Patsy and I spent a couple of months reading histories of our new state. “Read Wayne Flynt,” knowledgeable people advised, “he is Alabama’s greatest contemporary historian.” We devoured Wayne’s Alabama: The History of a Deep South State, and his Alabama in the Twentieth Century both published by the University of Alabama Press, In a couple of weeks this distinguished Auburn University professor had given us a real feel for where Alabama had come from and where Alabama ought to go. So many of the present trials and tribulations of our state, particularly our current governmental and educational challenges, are rooted in our past. Wayne is a truly public intellectual, battling for a new and more just constitution for our state and for a state government more concerned about the economic plight of our people. He is a courageous interpreter of our state to itself, a dedicated Baptist Christian with our Lord’s own compassion for the poor. He represents the very best of our state and the very best of our faith. Wish Wayne were a Wesleyan, he certainly thinks and writes like one!
One of the joys Patsy and I have had is the establishment of an endowment for the Bishop’s Lectureship at our Huntingdon College. Huntingdon has used our lectureship to bring to its campus nationally renowned lectures, most of whom embody both great scholarship and the Christian faith. I am thrilled that this year’s lecturer on September 20 is Dr. Wayne Flynt. He will be meeting with students and faculty throughout the day, part of President Cam West’s commitment to form Huntingdon students for Christian service to our state. We are thrilled that our lectureship will help bring Dr. Flynt to Huntingdon. I encourage all of our people, particularly our clergy, to be present for his 7:30 p.m. lecture on the timely Christian topic, “The Lord is the Maker of Them All: Black, White, and Poor in America.”
Huntingdon has made remarkable progress in the past few years under the inspired leadership of President West, a United Methodist pastor, scholar, and college administrator. But forgive me for thinking that Huntingdon’s greatest achievement is the college’s unreserved commitment to its role as a church-related college. In recent decades we have watched so many of our colleges slip quietly away from the church. Huntingdon is the happy exception, showing how the church and the college can be mutually beneficial. Wayne Flynt’s presence at Huntingdon and his lecture provide a wonderful occasion for us to celebrate our ministry in higher education.