Leon Sanderson recently reflected on the composition of the HST Alma Mater.
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.