Schiffman Lecture in Religious Studies

Dr. D. Newell Williams

Dr. D. Newell Williams speaks about the Disciples of Christ and Higher Education.


By Whitney Dreier


Fort Worth, Texas is home to the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame, the Stockyards Championship Rodeo and Pawnee Bill’s Wild West show. But Cowtown is more than a window to the past; it’s also home to the Brite Divinity School at Texas Christian University, which, according to its website, “educates women and men of diverse backgrounds for the ministry and witness of Jesus Christ in the church and world.” No boots, hats or cattle experience required.

Dr. D. Newell Williams is a professor of modern and American church history and the president of Brite. On Oct. 25, he comes to Dorsey Chapel on Columbia College’s main campus to present his lecture “The Liberating Arts and Sciences: Disciples of Christ and Higher Education.”


The event is part of the Schiffman Lecture in Religious Studies series, which draws noted scholars to Columbia College to lecture on the influence of religion in politics, culture and education. Guests can meet Williams at a book signing at 10:30 a.m. (he is the author of A Spiritual Biography and Ministry Among Disciples: Past, Present, and Future, which are available in the main campus bookstore); the lecture follows at 11 a.m.

“Having known of the College and the Schiffman lectures for many years, I am eager to spend some time on campus and to become personally acquainted with this college community,” Williams says in anticipation of his visit. “Though I have never spent any significant amount of time on the Columbia College campus, I like the college town feel of Columbia.”

Williams has visited mid-Missouri previously, most recently to attend a service at the Broadway Christian Church where Brite Divinity School graduate Tim Carson is pastor. Williams presented a resolution from the Brite Board of Trustees expressing their appreciation for Carson’s service as a member of the Brite governing board. “Part of my liking for Columbia is surely related to friends and colleagues who have made it their home – many of whom, like Tim Carson, are graduates of Brite,” Williams says. “I hope to see many of these friends as the lecture on October 25.”

Williams will speak about the Disciples of Christ and higher education. “Assuming that there are many people at the College who know little about the Disciples of Christ, much less their commitment to higher education, I plan to briefly introduce this religious community and then to talk about the particular kind of higher education that they have historically sought to advance,” he explains. “As one of the earliest of the schools founded by members of this religious movement, Columbia College is a good example of the objectives of higher education that Disciples have advocated.”

The title of William’s lecture is a paraphrase of a quotation from one the founders of the Disciples of Christ, who referred to the ideal college curriculum as the “liberating arts and sciences.” 

Columbia College was founded in 1851 as Christian Female College by three Disciples of Christ preachers and has maintained a covenant with the church ever since. “I assume that an interest in the distinctive educational tradition that gave rise to the College would be of interest to faculty, staff, students, and members of the Columbia community who value the distinctive traditions and commitments of this school,” says Williams, noting that he is both “honored and humbled to have been asked to be this year’s lecturer.”

•    To learn more about Dr. Williams, click here.

•    To learn more about the Schiffman Lecture series, click here.

•    To learn more about the Pastoral Award, available to all Disciples of Christ church members who attend Columbia College, click here.

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