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American Religion

David Edwin Harrell, Jr. Remembered

When: June 8, 2022, 1:00 pm - Wednesday

Where: Ezell 107

Session 1

Session Abstract

This panel will review the influence David Edwin Harrell Jr. had on southern history, the history of religion in America, and the Stone-Campbell Movement. Harrell’s early work pioneered the scholarship of marginalized and sectarian religious groups in the American South. He broadened his scope in later decades to include religious leaders who had national and international audiences. These leaders had a profound effect on American evangelicalism in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Finally, Ed Harrell was a practitioner, preacher, and missionary who played a vital role in shaping the direction of the non-institutional Churches of Christ.

 

Paper Abstracts

Charles Reagan Wilson, University of Mississippi, Emeritus, “David Edwin Harrell, Jr’s Work in Relation to Southern and American History”

This paper will consider David Edwin Harrell’s contributions to American and southern history. It will examine his books White Sects and Black Men and Unto a Good Land for insights into the development of his scholarship from the beginning of his work to later achievements. Harrell was a significant historian, among other reasons, for his attention to people and social groups often marginalized by some historiography, and issues of race and social class were central to him.

 

Brooks Blevins, Missouri State University, “David Edwin Harrell, Jr Brought the Margins of Evangelicalism into Mainstream Scholarship”

David Edwin Harrell was a widely respected historian of the Stone-Campbell tradition whose influence extended far beyond Christian Restorationism, and he became one of the foremost interpreters of Christianity on the margins of the Protestant world. In particular, his studies of the Charismatic movement brought the margins of evangelicalism into mainstream scholarship. Harrell’s legacy as a historian who took seriously the lives and words of the marginalized lives on in his unmatched body of work and in the scholarship of his students and others influenced by his example.

 

Steve Wolfgang, Downers Grove, IL Church of Christ, “David Edwin Harrell, Jr: Preacher and Public Historian”

While David Edwin Harrell, Jr., enjoyed a prolific career as a historian and distinguished university professor, his “alter ego,” Ed Harrell, also enjoyed a substantial career as a preacher and public historian, communicating similar historical concepts in popular terms to a different audience. For a half-century, Harrell conducted “gospel meetings” across the US and overseas. Harrell also contributed to the thriving religious journalism industry among Churches of Christ. Written in a popular, folksy style, hundreds of Harrell’s short articles helped many who never sat in a history class attain a clearer understanding of many aspects of American religious history.

Speakers

Scott Billingsley, University of North Carolina at Pembroke, Convener

  • Charles Reagan Wilson, University of Mississippi, Emeritus, “David Edwin Harrell, Jr’s Work in Relation to Southern and American History”
  • Brooks Blevins, Missouri State University, “David Edwin Harrell, Jr Brought the Margins of Evangelicalism into Mainstream Scholarship”
  • Steve Wolfgang, Downers Grove, IL Church of Christ, “David Edwin Harrell, Jr: Preacher and Public Historian”
  • Wayne Flynt, Auburn University, Emeritus, Respondent

2023 CSC Info Coming Soon

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James Cone with conferee at the CSC in 2017

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Pulitzer Prize winner Marilynne Robinson delivering the CSC plenary address

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Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), delivering the CSC plenary address.

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US Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith delivering the CSC plenary address

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David Brooks engaging conferees during breakfast at the CSC

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