Wallace Chappell Lecture Draws Crowd in Nashville

On an overcast drizzly day in February 750 students, faculty, pastors, deans, superintendents and people from a variety of ministry settings crowded into the Boone Convocation Center at Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville. An energy could be felt among those present, eager to hear well-known author, professor, and speaker, Rev. Dr. Tod Bolsinger, deliver the 2024 Wallace Chappell Lecture.

But if the crowd thought they were just there to hear about Bolsinger’s latest book, they got a whole lot more. His message was a challenge to go beyond comfort zones and not to default to what you already know, which can hold us back from sharing God with others. 

Foundation president, Jane Boatwright Wood, was among the crowd. “As I sat among the many attendees, I could sense their eagerness. Tod’s practical ideas and encouragement for fear-free Christian leadership captured their attention from the very beginning and held their interest throughout the 4-hour event.”

The themes in Dr. Bolsinger’s message also reinforced The Foundation for Evangelism’s approach to the Equipping the Local Church grant cycle which encourages experiments that share and embody the Gospel while meeting people where they are. Dr. Heather Lear, Vice President for Grant Administration, facilitated part of the lecture and made the connection – “Instead of facing change with fear and anxiety, we encourage grant applicants to step out in faith through the power of the Holy Spirit.”

She went on to say, “In our evolving church landscape where best practices and tactical solutions no longer work, Dr. Bolsinger challenged us to be explorers, seeking to learn and experiment.”

The lecture drew a diverse group of individuals, including students, pastors, faculty, deans, superintendents, and leaders from Trevecca, the midsouth district of the Church of the Nazarene, the Trevecca Alumni Association, and an estimated 40 laity from regional congregations. An estimated 750 people participated in the Wallace Chappell Lecture series, of which 678 were documented student attendees.

The Wallace Chappell Lectures are sponsored annually by the Foundation at a seminary or university. The lectures were established in 2002 through an endowment to honor the evangelistic legacy of Dr. Wallace D. Chappell, a United Methodist pastor who served churches in the Nashville, Western North Carolina and North Texas areas for over 50 years. These annual lectures make it possible for seminarians, ministry students, leaders and pastors to learn from recognized leaders in the area of Wesleyan-tradition evangelism.

“The Foundation equips evangelistic Christian leaders at every level, from laity to pastors, and the Wallace Chappell Lectures serve as a key tool for this mission,” shared Jane Boatwright Wood, President of the Foundation. “I left this year’s lecture feeling inspired, having witnessed an awakening of innovation and an imbuing of skills among these remarkable leaders.”

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