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Dockery lecture series to highlight Baptist history

JACKSON, Tenn. (BP) — Union University will launch a new lecture series in the spring that honors its former president and first lady and celebrates the school’s Baptist history and heritage.

The Dockery Lectures on Baptist Thought and Heritage, named for former Union President David S. Dockery and his wife Lanese, will be an annual event for examining the distinctives of Baptist thought, the importance of the Baptist heritage and the influence of the Christian intellectual tradition.

“All of us are deeply grateful to David and Lanese Dockery for their inestimable contributions to Union University,” Union President Samuel W. “Dub” Oliver said. “I am confident that the legacy of Dr. Dockery’s outstanding leadership will only be enhanced as the Dockery Lectures continue on campus year by year.”

Dockery has authored numerous works on Southern Baptist topics, including “Southern Baptist Consensus and Renewal” in 2008 and “Building Bridges” with Timothy George in 2007. During his tenure as Union’s president, the university hosted Baptist identity conferences in 2004 and 2007 along with conferences on Baptists in America in 2006 and the future of denominationalism in 2009. He was a member of the SBC’s Great Commission Task Force (2009-2010), a member of a task force to study the possibility of a Southern Baptist Convention name change (2011-2012) and chairman of a Calvinism advisory team (2012-2013).

Dockery expressed gratitude to Oliver, Union Provost C. Ben Mitchell and Nathan Finn, dean of the School of Theology and Missions, for their enthusiastic support for the new series and to former colleagues who have pledged financial support for it.

“It is our hope that the lecture series will feature the very best Baptist thinkers in this country and around the globe, even as it captures the best of the Baptist tradition that has shaped Union University through the years,” Dockery said. “We pray that the lectures will be beneficial for the Union community and will be informative in shaping the Baptist world at large.”

Dockery served as Union president for 18 years. He was elected as president of Trinity International University in Deerfield, Ill., in 2014.

Jim Patterson, Union’s associate dean for the School of Theology and Missions and university professor of Christian thought and tradition, will give the inaugural lecture in the series March 14, 2017.

“I am thrilled to be designated as the inaugural presenter,” Patterson said. “David Dockery has contributed significantly to the study of Baptist thought and tradition, so I find it challenging to honor what he has already done, and also to explore some additional aspects of Baptist history that will help preserve our denominational legacy and suggest how best to define our identity in the 21st century.”

Mitchell said the lectureship honors the Dockerys’ commitment “to celebrating the legacy of our Baptist forebears” and also recognizes the contribution the Dockerys have made to recent Baptist history. Finn said the lecture series shows Union’s continued commitment to its Baptist heritage and to its ongoing partnership with Southern Baptists.

“I’m grateful to God for this lecture series and the way it will enable us to continue to contribute to the discipline of Baptist studies and, Lord willing, the ongoing renewal of Baptist theology, spirituality and mission,” Finn said. “Praise God for David and Lanese Dockery, for their generosity and their commitment to preserving and passing on Baptist orthodoxy.”

    About the Author

  • Tim Ellsworth

    Tim Ellsworth is associate vice president for university communications at Union University in Jackson, Tenn. BP reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on news related to Southern Baptists’ concerns nationally and globally.

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