The Religion Department is proud to offer several guest lecture programs each year, three of which are supported by endowed funds. These events give students an opportunity to hear and have conversation with international experts on current topics in the field of religious studies. Often our speakers also address classes or hold extra discussion sessions with students. Our endowed programs are described below.
In addition to outside speakers, the Religion Department sponsors a Colloquium each spring. At these events, faculty in our department present a paper that grows out of their current research, and two of our majors are selected to respond to the faculty paper.
Dr. Charles Dorsey Horton and Maxine Horton Lecture in Biblical Studies
Dr. Horton, a native of Georgia, graduated from Brewton-Parker College (1939), Furman University (1941), and Southern Baptist theological Seminary where he earned a Ph.D. in 1953. During Horton’s five-decade career he pastored 16 churches, taught public school, and served as professor at both Mercer University and Brewton-Parker College. He and his wife, the late Maxine Horton, had three children. While Dr. Horton was interested in many religious and theological topics, he loved the Bible and challenged the speakers for this lecture series to do as it is written in the New Testament book of II Timothy (2:15) to “rightly divide the word of truth.”
Held every other year.
The 2016 lecturer was Dr. Gary Anderson, Professor of Biblical Studies/Christianity and Judaism in Antiquity, University of Notre Dame.
The 2015 lecturer was Dr. John Kutsko, Executive Director of the Society of Biblical Literature.
2013 Dr. Melissa Snarr, Dr. Warren Kinghorn
2011 Dr. Melanie Johnson-Debaufre
2010 Dr. Carol Newsom
2008 Dr. Barbara Rossing
2007 Dr. Douglas Knight
2006 Dr. Sandra Hack Polaski
2005 Dr. Emily Arndt
The Kendrick-Poerschke Lecture For Inter-Faith Understanding
The Kendrick-Poerschke Memorial Fund was established by Robert E. Poerschke, Furman class of 1941, in memory of his wife, Katherine Kendrick Poerschke, class of 1945. Mrs. Poerschke was a lover of the arts, especially drama and music, but questions about religion engaged her her whole life. An active church member in an era of sharp denominational, religious and ethnic boundaries, Katherine—like her husband Bob and her brother Schaefer Kendrick, longtime adjunct professor of business and commercial law at Furman, was open to and appreciative of religious, ethnic and cultural diversity. After graduating from Furman, Robert Poerscke earned a Th.M. at Southern Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky and was a navy chaplain during the last year of World War II. He served in several ministry jobs, including the Director of Religious Activities at Furman, before he went to Columbia University in NY to earn an Ed.D. degree. Dr. Poerscke then became Professor of Christian Education at Southeastern Seminary.
Held every other year.
The 2013-2014 Lecturer was given by Dr. John J. Thatamanal on Rethinking Religious Diversity: Comparison after “Religion”
The Ayers Lecture in Philosophy and Theology
When Robert Ayers graduated from Furman in 1939, he was already demonstrating a passionate interest in the intersection between philosophy and religion that would guide his career. After earning a Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University, Dr. Ayers became Professor of Philosophy and Religion at the University of Georgia, where he would teach until his retirement. The lectures, established in 2011, also honor his wife, the late Mrs. Mary Ayers.
Held annually. In odd years it is sponsored by the Philosophy Department and in even years by the Department of Religion.
The 2016 lecturer was Dr. Victor Anderson, Professor of the Program in African American and Diaspora Studies and Religious Studies, Vanderbilt Divinity School.
The 2015 lecturer was Norman Wirzba from Duke who spoke on “The World as Nature or Creation: What Difference Does it Make?”