May 8, 2015 | Written by Matt Carter
Editor’s Note: Dr. Huffard is stepping aside July 1 after sixteen years as dean of HST. Dr. Allen Black will be the new dean. Dr. Huffard offered these thoughts May 7, 2015, in the last chapel of his last semester as dean.
Reflections on Being Dean for Sixteen Years
A preacher once began with the wrong sentence: “I have so much to say I do not know where to start” to which someone quickly spoke up — “How about somewhere close to the end?” I feel that way today. There is so much to say I will have to start close to the end.
I have settled for five reflections, starting with the one most connected to our theme of the year.
- The Deans office has been a place of prayer. I prayed often for and with faculty, staff and students. One way in which God has answered prayers, many prayers, has been in the hiring process. When we are seeking faculty or staff we seek God’s assistance because we cannot create the candidates at the time we need them. During my tenure as administrator I have witnessed how God has faithfully and overwhelmingly blessed us with gifted spiritual colleagues. Here is a list of people that were not here when I began 16 years ago that God sent to bless us: Brenda Curtis, Jeannie Alexander, Daphne Logan, Matt Carter, Vernon Perry [whose prayers may have been more earnest than mine!], Mark Powell, Carlus Gupton, Kevin Shelby, Sheila Owen, and Bob Turner. I shifted Steve McLeod to the role he has filled so effectively—so I consider him a “rehire.” I also initiated the process for Jim Martin to join us. If you add to this the daily prayers from Jane Thomlinson and host of prayers with students, we can only give all the honor to God for faithfully responding and guiding.
- Many roles in life choose you, you don’t choose them. For example, becoming a shepherd in a church is not a role you choose for yourself, the church chooses you. A good shepherd rises to the call of the church to lead. Being a dean is similar. This was never my “dream job,” it might be for someone out there but not me. However, I have felt called and blessed to use the gifts God has given me to serve the mission of the school. There is a sense that the dean of HST stands between the mission of the university and the church it seeks to serve. It is because of the church I serve. It has been an honor to serve and continue the vision of equipping others for service in the kingdom in this special well.
- Discerning the will of God is a never ending, ongoing process, even if you feel called to your work and it matches your gifts. In any leadership role, you will soon find yourself on the frontier of your gifts, seeking ways to extend them. I have been influenced by Rom. 12:2—“but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.” A contemporary author like Novelist William Faulkner would say it this way: “You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore.” There have been many times as an administrator that I lost sight of the shore to move us to new horizons. I have been stretched, really stretched, and God has been faithful.
- Timing is important. Mark Twain was born shortly after a visit by Halley’s Comet, and he predicted that he would “go out with it,” too. He died the day after the comet returned.
Timing also falls within God’s will—especially when it is time to change what you are doing. There is a lesson to learn from Hezekiah. When God says it is time to go, GO! Hezekiah became deathly ill, Isaiah told him to get his house in order for he would not recover (2 Kings 20:1). Hezekiah prayed to the LORD, appealing to God’s faithfulness and his good record, he wept bitterly. So before Isaiah could get out of the courtyard of the kings palace, the LORD sent him back in to the king to let him know God will give him 15 more years. WHAT A MISTAKE! He could have ended well. But no, in the extended time he jeopardized all the treasures of the temple when envoys from Babylon came, and he had a son that became king (at 12) and totally destroyed all the good his dad has done. The extended time did not honor God, Hezekiah or Judah. He failed the moment he sought what was best for himself rather than what was best for Judah.
Over the past couple of years I have had the conviction that it was time for me to make a change. The “Huffard push-pull” theory applies to me as well. Those I have mentored know what I am talking about. In short, if you are pushed but not pulled to leave a place, it is probably time to endure suffering and not run. I had several of those days! If you are pulled, but not pushed, by invitations to other places, it is probably the time to put your ego back into the file and humbly stay the course. I have had several of those months! If both, then it may be time to listen and do what you still may not want to do. God often has to nudge us out of one thing to make of available for what he wants us to do.
- God is generous and has blessed HST with deans who have been faithful to their calling. I feel a little like that workers who came later in the day in the parable of the laborers in the vineyard but were paid the same as those who worked all day (Mt. 20:15). Previous deans (first three had no computers or email or central air-conditioning or an endowment!) could complain about how easy I have had it. On the other hand, I can appreciate their contribution to who we are as a school. In the spirit of Hebrews 13:7-[“Remember your leaders, those who spoke the Word of God to you, consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.”] I want to reflect on their impact on all of us.
- W. B. West, Jr – was dean 1958-1972; with degrees from Lipscomb, ACU, USC (ThD in NT in 1943) the pioneer of graduate education in the churches of Christ, starting the program at Pepperdine as well as ours. We often heard him say, at this time of the semester especially–“Hoe your row to the end.” Convinced Jack Lewis to come. Convinced Annie May Alston to come. He defended graduate education in an era of strong anti-education in churches. The school had a small library down stairs, one phone in the building, and only one building on campus. He dreamed of writing a book on Revelation. He called me several times and convinced me to come to HST as a student and after I came as a faculty in 1987 he inquired several times if I would go back to Pepperdine. When I became dean the first challenge was to do something with 20,000 of his books that were willed to the school. I took his class on Corinthians and appreciated his love for the Word and stories of scholars and a large network.
- Harold Hazelip—dean 1972-1986; with degrees from Lipscomb, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (1958) and U. of Iowa (1967). He had four jobs—dean, teaching, preaching at Highland, and Herald of Truth. He gave us national exposure. His sermon on the “Impossible Dream” in the Hazelip Sermon Archives became a classic. He and Baxter influenced a new style of preaching—speaking the truth softly in love. I took one of his classes as a student and remember the new insights he gave us on the doctrine and theology. We have recently digitized more than 600 of his sermons. When he moved to become president of Lipscomb it created a chain reaction that caused about 6 people to change their jobs. Slate became dean and I moved here to teach missions.
- Philip Slate—dean 1986-1992; came as a missionary from England with degrees from Lipscomb, HST (MA, 1961) and Fuller (D.Miss 1976). I was his first MA thesis and worked with him at the Park Avenue Church of Christ, which was a great ministry experience for me. He became an effective advocate expository preaching as a way to do more justice to the text than topic preaching. I had him for several classes and the one foundational concept I have used most has been his definition of the goal of Christian missions: make the message know, seek a valid decision of faith, and work for persistence in faith. Encouraged me to continue with the PhD at Fuller, for which I have been most grateful.
- Bill Flatt—dean 1993-1999; degrees from Tennessee Tech, HST (MRE 1962), University of Memphis (EdD 1973). He had served as Registrar for many years and he was the right one to lead us through the crisis of the tragic fire in mansion that took more than a year to rebuild. He equipped preachers with skills counseling and managing grief. It was during his tenure that we completed our ATS accreditation.
With the time limitations of chapel, I pray these reflections will bless you with insights as you go through critical boundary events of life with a commitment to seek God’s will and use your gifts to His honor and glory. God is faithful.
December 3, 2014 | Written by Matt Carter
Spring 2015 church audit courses made specially available to members of supporting congregations for an audit fee of $25 per course. These are the same graduate courses taken with credit students.
HST offers a variety of courses in ministry and theology, and we try to make as wide a range as possible to our church auditors. These are the upcoming church audit courses. Click the course name for the syllabus, and the professors name for information about the professor.
To register for a church audit course, click here.
Tuesday, 6-7:30 pm, January 20 – May 12.
Dr. Mark E. Powell has recently released a book, Centered in God: The Trinity and Christian Spirituality. This one-credit course explores this doctrine that is so central to the Christian faith in a way that will help Christians not only understand more about God, but will help them grow closer to God. Dr. Powell created this course with church auditors in mind.
Thursday, 6:00 – 8:45, January 22 – May 14.
Dr. Huffard has cross-cultural experiences as a missionary to Muslims in Israel and in inner-city ministry in LA. He combines this personal experience with academic preparation in teaching multicultural ministry. Building on a biblical theology of diversity, hospitality, reconciliation, and inclusion, this course will study issues of leadership, worship, and evangelism in a multicultural church. Models of multicultural churches will be surveyed. Application to various ministries will be experienced through a field education experience and case studies.
The church audit program serves members of congregations which support the school with at least $1200/year ($100/month). Members of these congregations may audit select courses each semester for $25 per course. That’s right – any member of a supporting congregation can attend the same graduate courses as credit students and learn from world class professors for next to nothing!
How do I participate?
To help your congregation join this program, contact the Advancement Office at HSTadvancement@hst.edu or by calling 901-761-1355.
Click here to register for a course.
July 29, 2014 | Written by Matt Carter
Kok Bin Ong and Guadalupe Mayo on campus this fall
Kok Bin Ong and his wife Esther are the 2014 recipients of the Hogan-Cate Asian Missions grant. They come from the Church of Christ in Seremban, Malaysia where he has preached since 1988. They come with a wealth of ministry experience and are highly respected as great servants of God. They have three grown children. This sabbatical will give him an opportunity to “recharge his batteries” in a context where he can enjoy fellowship, have access to a great library, audit several classes and do some writing.
Guadalupe Mayo is the recipient of the 2014 Latin American Missions grant. He has a degree in Industrial Psychology and is a 2006 graduate of Baxter Institute in Honduras. He has been the director of the education program at the Kennedy Church of Christ in Tegucigalpa since 2005 and Director of Practical Ministry and Student Life at Baxter Institute since 2007. Lenin Munguia, a recent graduate of HST, says “he works tirelessly on behalf of the cause of Christ.” He is here to see what it would take to start a counseling program to address the spiritual and emotional needs of brothers and sisters in his community; to gain new perspectives for his ministry; and be an advocate for Latin American missions. His wife, Patti, is in the last year of medical school, and could not join him. They have a 2-year old son, Isai.
July 23, 2014 | Written by Matt Carter
HST is offering two valuable church audit courses for Fall 2014. Church audit courses are one way that HST serves local churches. This program blesses congregations which support the school with at least $1200/year ($100/month). Members of these congregations may audit select courses each semester for $25 per course. That’s right – members of these supporting churches can attend the same graduate courses as credit students and learn from world class professors for next to nothing!
An auditor takes a course, but does not receive credit. Some auditors will read all of the assigned texts and even take the exams, others will simply come to the class meetings to hear the lectures.
Monday, 6-8:45 pm, August 18 – December 8.
This course provides an introduction to historical, biblical, and cultural aspects of worldwide evangelism, with the purposes of both preparing individuals for service as missionaries and assisting sending churches in their tasks. This includes a survey of principles, methods and practical aspects of developing and maintaining a missions ministry in a local church. Recommended especially for missions committee members.
Tuesday, 6:00 – 8:45, August 19 – December 9.
This course involves students in the exegesis of the English text of the Gospel of John, with emphasis on major theological themes of John’s account of Jesus’ ministry and death.
How do I participate?
To help your congregation join this program, contact the Advancement Office at HSTadvancement@hst.edu or by calling 901-761-1355.
Click here to register for a course.
November 25, 2013 | Written by Matt Carter
HST offices and the library will be close at 5:00 Tuesday afternoon (11/26) for the Thanksgiving Holiday, and will re-open Monday (12/2).
HST offices and the library will be closed 12/23 through 1/1 for the Christmas break.
HST offices and the library will be closed Monday, 1/21, for the Dr. King holiday.
November 19, 2013 | Written by Matt Carter
An alma mater is written to recognize a school providing training and growth for life ahead. The graduate school of Harding with its beginning in Searcy in 1954 has a rich heritage out of which this process has occurred for more than 1200 students. With the desire to affirm and celebrate the service of Harding School of Theology, Bill Flatt, Don Kinder and Leon Sanderson set out to write an honoring piece.
The concept at the beginning was to consider the work of HST as a pebble in a lake that produces ever-widening circles. The stanzas speak of the vision of the founding fathers lived out through commitment and Christian service world-wide. After review, Carisse Berryhill captured this focus in the phrase, “to seek, to learn, to be.” The opening notes of the piece mirror the Harding University Alma Mater written by L. O. Sanderson. The “foothills of the Ozarks” are reflected in the “banks of the river.” [Mississippi river] The chorus opens in majestic unison with recognition of God and our relationship with Him, “O God you are our God.” These words make clear the importance of theology in the school’s name. Thus a song is born to describe and perpetuate this distinguished institution.
Sanderson earned the M.R.E. (1963), M.Div. (1988), and D.Min. (2007) from HST. He was named Alumnus of the Year in 2008, and currently serves as the president of the HST Alumni Association.
He serves as associate minister at the Church of Christ at White Station in Memphis.
May 6, 2013 | Written by Matt Carter
There is a new page on the HST website dedicated to our students, faculty, and alumni who have blogs. Following these blogs is a great way to get to know us as a community and to learn about the work God is doing around the world through the HST family.
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September 28, 2012 | Written by Matt Carter
As HST continues to expand its efforts to make education available to more students through distance education, the library has kept pace by providing services to this our distance students. In the 2011-12 academic year, our librarians met nearly 400 student requests for materials. They posted 75 books in the mail, in addition to sending nearly 1,000 articles as PDF e-mail attachments, totaling over 20,000 pages. All this comes at a time when more materials are available online, both on the free web and through our paid subscriptions to databases like the ATLA Religion Database, PsychInfo, PsychArticles, and many others. All these digital services complement the physical collection of books on our Cherry Road campus. Overall, this means that HST students, even at a distance, have access to more materials than ever before.
August 14, 2012 | Written by Matt Carter
The 2012-2013 academic year is underway. Classes began last week with an intensive course and continue with the first week of semester-long courses. Here are some important events to get on your calendar for the semester.
Friday, August 17: 6:00 in the Hospitality Room
Each year, we re-discover ourselves as a community. We celebrate and miss those who have completed their studies. We welcome in new students. Some have left Memphis to become distance students in a new context, others have left their previous context to become residents.
The Student Association helps students, faculty, staff, and families get to know each other at our annual Coming Together. Students and their families get together along with leaders of local congregations for a meal, devotional, and some games.
Monday, August 20: 7:00 in the West Education Center
We kick off the year with our annual convocation. Dr. Monte Cox, Dean of the College of Bible and Ministry at Harding University (Searcy, AR) will speak on our theme for the year, “Lord of the Nations”. Dr. Cox served as a missionary in Kenya for ten years prior to becoming a full-time teacher at Harding.
W.B. West, Jr. Lectures
The 2012 West lectures will be presented by Dr. Daniel A. Rodriguez, Associate Professor of Religion and Hispanic Studies at Pepperdine University. The main lectures are Thursday evening. Friday morning will be a time of discussion with Dr. Rodriguez for students, faculty, and staff.
May 30, 2012 | Written by Matt Carter
Students enrolled for Summer Semester
Please familiarize yourself with your syllabus if you haven’t already. Reading assignments are already underway for most courses, and assignments are already be due for some. If you haven’t already downloaded your syllabus, you will find it here.
Fall Semester Registration
Fall Semester registration is ongoing. If you are planning to take courses in the fall, you should connect with your academic advisor before registering. The course schedule is here. You may access pipeline for registration here.