Established in 2002,The Owen Wimberly Center for Continuing Education in Religion offers a variety of workshops and lectures for both clergy and laity on topics related to issues of ministry, theology, and religion. Annual lectures hosted by the Owen Wimberly Center include the Willson Lectures, Neustadt Lectures, and the Martha Jean Lemon Special Lectures. Continuing education units for clergy are available for all Owen Wimberly Center events. Rev. Rodney Newman serves as the Director of this center founded by Dr. Mark Y. A. Davies.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF LECTURESHIPS:
Walter and Dolores Neustadt of Ardmore, Oklahoma, established the lecture series in 1983 for the purpose of strengthening understanding of the great contributions of the Judaic religious tradition to Western civilization and thought. Scholars are invited to the campus to speak on informative themes in the area of Hebrew Scripture,Judaic thought, and Jewish ethics and art. Such eminent scholars as Rabbi David Aaron, Rabbi Malka Drucker, David Nelson, and Benjamin D. Sommer have spoken in recent years.
This lectureship is provided by an endowment from James M. and Mavis Willson of Floydada, Texas. The lectures are directed to the interests of students in the area of religion and society. The Willsons were outstanding members of the United Methodist Church. Their Christian vision was truly ecumenical in its outreach. Since 1953 their gift to Oklahoma City University has brought to campus speakers of international stature from the areas of religion, science,Christian theology and ethics, church history, biblical studies, and liturgical studies. Such eminent scholars as Amy-Jill Levine, J. Philip Newell, Michelle Gonzalez Moldanado, and Joerg Rieger have spoken in recent years.
Martha Jean Lemon Lectures
These lectures are a gift from Lynette Lemon Wert and Larry H. Lemon in 2010 on behalf of the Lemon family of Oklahoma City and in honor of Martha Jean Lemon. Ms. Lemon was graduated from Oklahoma City University in 1968 with a degree in history and worked as an independent comparative religion scholar. The annual lecture series will feature speakers, workshops, or seminars on topics which promote religious leadership and service. Rev. Adam Hamilton, Senior Pastor of Church of the Resurrection United Methodist Church in Leawood, Kansas presented the 2013 lecture on the topic, "Living as a Christian Today."
OCU is pleased to welcome the Rev. Dr. Renita Weems to present the Willson Lectures on November 13, 2014. Weems is a biblical scholar, an academic administrator, a writer, a blogger, an ordained minister, and a public intellectual whose scholarly insights into modern faith, biblical texts, and the role of spirituality in everyday lives make her a much sought after writer and speaker.
She received her undergraduate degree at Wellesley College and holds a Master’s degree and Ph.D. from Princeton Theological Seminary, becoming the first African American woman to earn a Ph.D. in Old Testament.
She was a member of the faculty of Vanderbilt University for several years and former Visiting Professor at Spelman College before assuming her current position as Vice-President and Academic Dean at American Baptist College in Nashville.
She is the author of several widely-acclaimed books on women's spirituality and wholeness including the influential Just a Sister Away. Many have read her commentary on the Song of Songs in The New Interpreter’s Bible series published by Abingdon Press. In 2008, Yale University invited Weems to give the prestigious Lyman Beecher Lecturer, making her the first African American woman to do so. She has been named by Ebony Magazine as one of America’s top 15 preachers.
In addition to her illustrious academic accomplishments, Weems has had great success communicating with secular and lay audiences. Her 1999 book, Listening for God: A Minister's Journey through Silence and Doubt, won the Religious Communicators' Council's prestigious 1999 Wilbur Award for “excellence in communicating spiritual values to the secular media.” She has provided commentary and analysis for the Discovery Channel, BBC and Washington Post and was a panelist on Bill Moyer’s award-winning Genesis Project. She has appeared on the PBS program, Washington Week, and was a columnist for Beliefnet.
She is married and has one daughter.
Weems will present the Willson Lecture on the topic of Gender and the Bible at 1:00 p.m. in the Bishop W. Angie Smith Chapel on the campus of Oklahoma City University. At 2:30 she will engage in a discussion on the same topic with Dr. Sharon Betsworth of the Wimberly School of Religion.
Everyone is also invited to hear Weems speak on the topic Gender and the Church on November 12 at 6:30 p.m. at Fifth Street Missionary Baptist Church, 801 NE 5th St. in Oklahoma City. This event is sponsored by the Oklahoma Institute for Biblical Literacy.