By Woody Woodrick
After controversial Bishop John Spong spoke at
Some expressed outrage that the retired Episcopal bishop, whose views on Christianity have raised eyebrows, would speak at the United Methodist-related college. The situation got members of the Religious Studies department talking.
“We received a lot of letters from Methodists expressing a variety of viewpoints about what a Methodist college should and shouldn’t do,” said Dr. James Bowley, chair of the department.
The result is a panel discussion on the topic “What does it mean to be a United Methodist college? Religion and Academic Freedom.” The event is scheduled for 7 p.m. March 27 in Room 215 of the Ford Academic Complex on the
“This will be a good chance to get together and talk about these things,” Bowley said. “We see it as a service to the Methodist churches of
The Rev. Steve Casteel, director of Connectional Ministries for the Mississippi Conference, said such a discussion is in keeping with the tradition of John Wesley, Methodism’s founder.
“Part of Wesley’s genius was his desire to be in dialogue with people with whom he didn’t agree,” said Casteel. “Part of what I see is the tension about this is our discomfort with views and theology that doesn’t always agree with ours.”
Millsaps is one of two four-year colleges in
Bowley will moderate the discussion among a panel of eight. He said he tried to gather a group with ties to The United Methodist Church but also with a variety of backgrounds and jobs.
“We tried to get fair representation from a lot of different kinds of Methodists,” Bowley said. “We’re not trying to get one side versus others. We wanted to get people from a variety of backgrounds and who serve the church in a variety of ways.”
Dr. David Beckley, president of
The Rev. Sam Morris, senior pastor at Columbus First UMC
The Rev. Vicki Hughes, senior pastor at Hattiesburg Main Street UMC
The Rev. Dr. Loye Ashton, a deacon in the
The Rev. Tommy Artmann, senior pastor at Hattiesburg Heritage UMC
The Rev. Bruce Case, senior pastor at Hattiesburg Court Street UMC
Dr. Connie Campbell, professor of mathematics at Millsaps
Ashley Hewitt, a Millsaps student and United Methodist
In addition to creating a dialogue for United Methodists, Bowley said he believes the event offers students a unique opportunity.
“I hope a lot of students will come,” Bowley said, “to see the variety within the