MACON — Mercer University will hold a special evening Chapel service on Thursday featuring a lecture by Mercer Chancellor R. Kirby Godsey on his new book, Is God a Christian? The lecture begins at 7 p.m. in Newton Hall on the University’s Macon campus. The event is part of the University’s fall chapel service series, which features a special emphasis in support of the new Universitywide Lyceum program and Mercer’s participation in President Obama’s national Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge. The lecture is free and open to the public.
Published in May by Mercer University Press, Is God a Christian? is a compelling interfaith challenge for Christians. In Is God a Christian?, Dr. Godsey introduces readers to a God who loves everyone more than individual religions. The book probes how religion creates artificial boundaries separating people of faith and explores the wisdoms and challenges of seven world religions. Finally, he invites readers to create faithful conversations for peace.
“In an effort to bring light where there has been so much heat, Dr. Godsey makes the case in his book that God is bigger than any one of our religious traditions and beyond all of our dogmatic assertions,” said Dr. Craig McMahan, university minister and dean of the Chapel. “In light of this conviction, Dr. Godsey issues an earnest call to all people to practice humility, understanding and respect in their encounter with religious traditions that are not their own.”
Dr. Godsey served as Mercer’s president for 27 years before becoming chancellor following the appointment of current President William D. Underwood. Dr. Godsey is known as a man of courage and conviction. In 1996, his first book, When We Talk About God, Let’s Be Honest, sparked controversy – but also conversations – as mainstream Christians chose to study the book for its honest insights on faith, doubt, fear and grace. When some Baptist churches pulled funding from the University, Mercer trustees stood behind Dr. Godsey and the principles of academic and religious freedom.
Mercer is one of approximately 250 colleges and universities across the country to commit to a year of interfaith cooperation and community service as part of the President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge. Administered by the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships and the Corporation for National and Community Service, the initiative seeks to impact specific community challenges, from homelessness to mentoring to the environment, while helping to build social capital and civility.
The University has also launched a new initiative, Mercer Lyceum, to help coordinate existing University lectures and events, as well as new ones, around a single theme. The Lyceum will allow for more in-depth discussions, and, organizers hope, more in-depth learning, while helping to create new partnerships among the many disciplines at Mercer’s campuses.
The Lyceum has been approved for four years, with two biennial cycles focusing on a single theme. The first theme is “Rebuilding Democracy” and will run from fall 2011 to spring 2013. The theme is built in part to help educate students about the challenges facing American democracy – hyper partisanship, governmental gridlock, low voter turnout and weak understanding of constitutional democracy, as well as outside threats, such as the growing gap between rich and poor, a shrinking middle class and the decline of America’s influence in the world. The Lyceum will help to inform students about these issues, but also help to train them to become better citizens themselves by examining possible solutions to those issues. The organizers hope the conversations help them find ways to address those challenges both as citizens and as professionals in their chosen careers.
About Mercer University
Founded in 1833, Mercer University is a dynamic and comprehensive center of undergraduate, graduate and professional education. The University enrolls more than 8,200 students in 11 schools and colleges – liberal arts, law, pharmacy, medicine, business, engineering, education, theology, music, nursing and continuing and professional studies – on major campuses in Macon, Atlanta and Savannah and at four regional academic centers across the state. Mercer is affiliated with two teaching hospitals — Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah and the Medical Center of Central Georgia in Macon, and has educational partnerships with Warner Robins Air Logistics Center in Warner Robins and Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta. The University operates an academic press and a performing arts center in Macon and an engineering research center in Warner Robins. Mercer is the only private university in Georgia to field an NCAA Division I athletic program. For more information, visit www.mercer.edu.
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