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Church Celebration Day October 2011
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LWC Community Celebrates College’s Methodist Heritage

Posted on Wednesday, October 26, 2011 [7:04 PM]

COLUMBIA, Ky. -- The Rev. Terry Swan remembers when visitors to Lindsey Wilson College had to look hard in order to find symbols of the school's relationship with The United Methodist Church.

During a campus visit to the A.P. White Campus by members of the United Methodist Board of Higher Education in the early 1990s, LWC officials were told that symbols of its church heritage were few and far between.

"One of the conclusions of that team was we didn't have many symbols of our church connection here at Lindsey Wilson," Swan said during Church Celebration Day, held Wednesday in V.P. Henry Auditorium.

In the two decades since that visit, LWC has done a much better job displaying its church heritage, Swan said.

"You can hardly miss the symbols anymore -- you have to not be looking for them," said Swan, who is a professor of religion and dean of the chapel and has been a member of the college's faculty since 1985. "The list goes on and on and on -- we're surrounded by symbols and reminders here."

Church Celebration Day is an annual event every fall in which the LWC community affirms its relationship with The United Methodist Church. The college was founded in 1903 as a training school by Methodist Episcopal Church, South.

Swan noted several major events have underscored LWC's church relationship in the last two decades. In addition to the building of the John B. Begley Chapel, LWC has opened the Sumner Campus Ministry Center, Norma and Glen Hodge Center for Discipleship, and added a bachelor's and master's program in Christian ministries.

"Now, today, what a difference 20 years later, the very symbol of our school on our literature is the crown of the beautiful Begley Chapel," said Swan, who is a professor of religion and dean of the chapel. "And it's seen, lit up like a beacon, on the Lindsey Hill from miles at night."

The Rev. Todd Love, who is superintendent of the United Methodist Church's Columbia District, credited the Lindsey Wilson mission with helping bolster the college.

"For I see on this campus, every day, that the mission statement of Lindsey Wilson College is not just theoretical jargon concocted to sound appealing," he said. "It is in fact a credo lived out in very practical ways of active caring and Christian concern for every student every day. I am undeniably proud to be associated with such an institution."

Swan also noted that LWC has evolved into a place where students can grow intellectually and spiritually.

"It's where faculty and staff imprint the beauty of their lives and the wisdom of the ages into the young adults who come to our school," he said. "A private, church-related college should be the very environment where you have the freedom to give attention to and even give priority to the deepest, existential questions of life that each of us have."

Because LWC is a place that encourages students to develop intellectually and spiritually, Swan said the college is a kind of "spiritual greenhouse."

"For students, college can become a spiritual greenhouse or it can become a spiritual graveyard. And at Lindsey Wilson College we choose the former," he said. "We want this to be a safe place where we consider our deepest values, life's direction and purpose, and the meaning of a good and rich and full life."

Although LWC has experienced unprecedented expansion over the last decade, Swan noted that has not been the norm for many church-related liberal arts colleges.

"At a time in history when many church-related colleges in rural areas are retrenching and are cutting staff, their enrollments are diminishing, faculty are in opposition to the administration, colleges are distancing themselves to their historic church connection, instead we still have a degree of difference here," he said. "There is something special about Lindsey Wilson College, and I think that is because we are always trying to improve."

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