Whenever a university is able to combine strong nationally renowned scholarly research with Christian faith and fellowship, topped off with a delicious meal, you have a fantastic day.

Dr. Keith Beutler, professor of history at Missouri Baptist University, finishes the day’s presentations in strong fashion as the keynote speaker during the third annual Faith and Learning Symposium. The conference ran throughout the day Friday, April 9, streaming live from the Pitch Room of the Learning Center.            Photos by Dr. C. Allin Means



Missouri Baptist University’s third annual Faith and Learning Symposium was by all measure a historic success as the conference drew speakers from around campus and around the country to discuss their discipline-specific research within the context of a broader Christian worldview.

Running throughout the day Friday, April 9, in the Pitch Room and Maker Space of the Learning Center on MBU’s main campus in St. Louis, the docket included several published authors, historians, professors and a nationally recognized social media marketing expert.

“When I began organizing this year’s Symposium I could not have imagined this high level of quality presenters,” said Dr. C. Allin Means, professor of journalism and communications in the Communications Department at MBU, and coordinator for this year’s Symposium. “I had never organized a conference like this before, so I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect. But once we began generating interest in the Symposium, we began realizing we could book some really heavy-hitters in academic research, strong women and men of faith who have contributed to important bodies of research. I was thrilled with the interest.”

Rebecca Duke, English instructor and director of first-year composition, opens the Symposium as Alonzo Medcalf, instructor of multi-media production and communications, makes sure the live stream is running perfectly.

By “we,” Dr. Means said he is referring to the sub-committee of the Scholarship and Research Committee that helped organize the event, as well as many others who contributed to the successful symposium, including: Alonzo Medcalf, Guy Danhoff, Dr. David Collum, Dr. Tim Delicath, Zana Sueme, Rachelle Brandel, Terri Adams, Erin Roach, Coral Christopher, Dr. Jason Jordan and Dr. Matthew Bardowell.

“This was really a team effort. To pull off something this big, and do it so smoothly and without a hitch, requires input from a lot of people who are invested in the cause, especially during a pandemic,” Means said, adding that Medcalf’s help and expertise throughout the promotional phase and into the actual presentation day were imperative.

“I’m not kidding when I say this day does not happen without Alonzo. He is such an asset to our department and this university, we all know that,” Means said. “His video work throughout the entire process, from shooting professional quality promo videos to setting up a professional quality live stream during the Symposium, all this is absolutely crucial for this event to be so successful.” 

Alonzo Medcalf, instructor of multi-media production and communications, adjusts audio and video settings for the live stream of the Faith and Learning Symposium, while attendees tune in to the speaker.

Dr. C. Allin Means speaks about this year’s Faith and Learning Symposium.

Speakers included: Rebecca Duke, Dr. Matthew Bardowell, Dr. Matthew Easter, Dr. Amy Harrison, Dr. John Walker, Dr. John Han, Dr. Jason Jordan, Dr. Carl Trueman, Guy Danhoff and Dr. Keith Beutler.

“The speakers’ topics and the seriousness with which they presented them epitomized exactly what the Faith and Learning Symposium is designed to accomplish, that is, exploring our research in many different fields, recognizing that all knowledge comes from an almighty God, and incorporating those two very real understandings into the presentation of our research,” said Means, who has been on faculty at MBU for 10 years.

Click here to see a previously posted story about the Faith and Learning Symposium, by MBU Timeline staffer Emily Heflin, which includes titles of presentations and explanatory abstracts.

Trueman, professor of biblical and religious studies at Grove City College, was the Special Guest Speaker, sponsored by MBU Honors. His topic, “The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self: Cultural Amnesia, Expressive Individualism, and the Road to Sexual Revolution,” based on his book by the same name published in November 2020, was well received by Honors students, faculty members and guests alike.

“It was so encouraging to see our students recognize how important research is within our Christian worldview, and the intelligent questions they posed for Dr. Trueman,” Means said. “Getting students and faculty members on the same page, research-wise, is very important as MBU continues to raise the bar in the research community.”

Beutler finished the afternoon as the Symposium’s Keynote Speaker, discussing his soon-to-be-published book. The title of his presentation was: “The Weight and Weightlessness of George Washington’s Hair: What C.S. Lewis and a Founder’s Follicles Are Teaching Me About the Weave of God’s World.”

Dr. Amy Harrison, assistant professor of higher education, presents her research during the Faith and Learning Symposium as attendees look on. The Symposium was delivered in person in the Pitch Room as well as streaming via Zoom.

“I simply loved the way that in God’s providence everything connected, which without evenly directly conspiring together turned out to be a thesis that in our various fields we were all arguing to, and I think it’s just an example of why we need faith in order to have the most highly motivated and accurate learning,” Buetler said following the event. “This is a natural marriage, these two things.”

While the numbers have not been finalized, Means said total attendance, in-person in the Learning Center and virtually via Zoom, set records for the Faith and Learning Symposium, but if you missed any of the presentations, they will be posted soon on MBU’s Vimeo channel.

Next year’s Faith and Learning Symposium — with its name changing to the Faith and Research Conference — is scheduled for April 7-8, 2022, in the Learning Center.

Dr. Carl R. Trueman, professor of biblical and religious studies at Grove City College, presents live via Zoom to students and faculty members gathered in the Maker Space of the Learning Center during the Faith and Learning Symposium.