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Church historian Bill Leonard to speak April 3

Bill Leonard has spoken numerous times at Furman.

Attention: This lecture was originally scheduled for March 13 and was cancelled due to inclement weather in North Carolina.

Bill Leonard, the Dunn Professor of Baptist Studies and professor of church history at Wake Forest University, will speak at Furman University’s Charles E. Daniel Memorial Chapel on Tuesday, April 3 at 4 p.m.

His talk, “Baptists and the Bible, Slavery and the Lost Cause: Inseparable Hermeneutics of Racism,” is open to the public without charge. It is sponsored by Furman’s Task Force on Slavery and Justice, Humanities Development Fund and Department of Religion.

Leonard’s research focuses on church history with particular attention to American and Appalachian religion and Baptist studies. He is the author or editor of numerous books, including “Baptist Ways: A History and A Sense of the Heart: Christian Religious Experience in the U.S.” In March 2015, he delivered the William James Lecture on Religious Experience at Harvard Divinity School.

“This will be a significant address on the connections between slaveholding and traditions of Baptist theology and practice,” said Furman Communication Studies Professor Brandon Inabinet, who chairs the Task Force on Slavery and Justice. “The talk will also address how Baptist institutions and Baptist-heritage institutions should act in regard to commemoration and practice today.”

Furman was founded in 1826 by South Carolina Baptists and named for prominent Southern Baptist minister Richard Furman. The institution’s early history was shaped by the theology of Baptist leaders such as Basil and Charles Manly, Jonathan Davis, William B. Johnson and James C. Furman, its first president. Some were slave owners, and many were leading voices in biblically justifying slavery. Furman has been an independent institution since the university and South Carolina Baptist Convention severed ties in 1992.

For more information, contact Furman’s News and Media Relations office at 864-294-3107.

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