By Editor J. Randal Matheny, with Assistant Editor Joe May contributing

Editor’s note: Check back periodically for updates on this developing story. Latest update: 19:56h UTC.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BNc)- The president of Lipscomb University spoke Jan. 22 at an ecumenical prayer service sponsored by Presbyterian and Catholic churches.

Dr. Randy Lowry spoke at a prayer service commemorating the 100th anniversary of the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, sponsored jointly by the Second Presbyterian Church and the Christ the King Catholic Church. The service was held at the former church’s location.

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is “a worldwide observance seeking ‘unity in diversity,'” Florene Carnicelli Johns wrote in the Supported by many denominations, it seeks to promote the ecumenical movement.

Second Presbyterian Church belongs to the theologically liberal Presbyterian Church (USA) and supports groups like the Nashville Peace and Justice Center, whose member organizations include Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Amnesty International, Common Cause, Greater Nashville Unitarian Universalist Church and the National Organization for Women.

In a speech Jan. 25, Pope Benedict XVI said, “The centenary of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity offers us an opportunity to thank almighty God for the fruits of the ecumenical movement, in which we can discern the presence of the Holy Spirit fostering the growth of all Christ’s followers in unity of faith, hope and love.”

Dr. Lowry’s participation in the event generated criticism.

In an email circulated Jan. 29, Dr. Brad Harrub stated, “Like it or not, his position as president puts Lowry in the spotlight. He is the highest representative for that school. And as such, his actions speak loudly for the entire university. If this is the direction he has chosen to take the school, that is his choice. He has that right. But we also have the right to write off Lipscomb University as a ‘Christian’ school. I as a New Testament Christian don’t have to support him (or the school) and I strongly urge you to consider doing likewise.”

Kimberly E. Chaudoin, Director of Communication & Creative Services at Lipscomb University, told BNc by email that no recording or press release was available through her office because it was not a university event.

Jim Kitchens, pastor of Second Presbyterian, told BNc by email that no recording was made of Dr. Lowry’s message.




  1. I commented on R. Mansel’s PreacherPages with the following that I post here as a response to DLU’s decision. I add as a preface that simply being present or even speaking at a denominational function does not always signify an endorsement or agreement, however, when the fucntion is all about unity, and that unity is on the basis of acceptance and toleration of differences then it is not Biblical unity. Such a union is a farce and leads many astray.

    My heart breaks. I offer up a prayer for those who trust Lipscomb and other schools to assist in bringing up their children. I have many friends and relatives with degrees from DLU and enjoyed a lecture series or two there a number of years ago.

    Regretfully, although I am disheartened I cannot say I am astonished. Many warned of such events and departures. The influnce of prominent preachers in the Nashville area who embraced an ecumentical church mentality years ago, those who joined a campaign featuring a prominent “crusading” evangelist, welcoming him to their city and embracing his message have had their effect on DLU. Schools follow their supporters.

    There is hope. While withdrawing support from institutions that have gone the way of the world may not have a great impact — they already receive support from those who agree with them — we can salvage the universities and colleges that apparently hold firm. We can pour our support to those schools and become involved in their lectureships. We can communicate with their leaders and influence the direction they take in the future. We can encourage our students and children to atted those schools that take the difficult stance of remaining true to God’s word. We can thank them for their commitment.

    There may not be one school that we can agree with 100% of the time. They may have teachers and guests that we have issues with. They may have some in the community around them that influence students in faculties in ways we do not appreciate, but we can — we must — hold them accountable to not publically endorsing error and thus making our job at reaching the lost more difficult.

    In essence making evangelism more difficult is what DLU and their president accomplished. What they could only forsee as an opportunity to open doors, becomes closed doors on the street. How can a sister in Nashville convince her friend the importance of immersion as the point of contact of faith and grace, when DLU’s actions suggest that they disagree? How can a brother teach a class of young people about the heart-only accompaniment of singing when a “unity choir” sang apparently with mechanical orchestration?

    My heart breaks, and I plead with God to give me wisdom and strength to do what is right. I pray that He will help the leaders of DLU and other schools to make choices that will benefit God’s people more than the institutional coffers and community reputation.

  2. I wholeheartedly agree with Scott’s comments. Many of us have watched in dismay as Lipscomb has moved farther and farther away from the Truth. In speaking with a former Bible faculty member from Lipscomb, he expressed his exasperation at the current state of affairs.

    Given the fact that Lowery’s wife is also participating in the Worldwide Convention of the Christian church (to be held in Nashville this summer), this latest development is not surprising.

    At any rate, all is not bleak. There are PLENTY of brethren who are determined to live the Truth, stand for the Truth, and win others to Christ!

    David W. Hester
    Minister, Springville Road church of Christ

  3. Thanks David. ARE you going to make it over to Parrish for our meeting this weekend? James Watkins is speaking Fri and Sat at 7 and all day Sunday.

    Scott McCown

  4. Hi, Scott!

    No, I won’t be able to make it; my family has all been hit with the “flu bug;” I’m the only one who has missed it. I will be at FHU, though; may God bless your Meeting, and I hope to see you at FHU!