Nashville’s religious communities, state government among topics for Retirement Learning at Vanderbilt

September 4, 2002

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The history of Protestant Christianity in Nashville and the workings of Tennessee’s state government are just a few of the diverse topics being discussed during the fall term of Retirement Learning at Vanderbilt, Oct. 7 – Nov. 15.

Former Tennessean religion editor Ray Waddle and the Reverend Bill Barnes, founder and pastor emeritus of Edgehill United Methodist Church, will team up to teach “Protestant Christianity in the Life of Nashville,” a look at the history of Nashville’s religious communities. The course will examine their present activities, especially in response to social, political and economic institutions and movements, as well as offer some thoughts about the possible directions in which they’re moving. At least three varieties of churches will be discussed: liberal or mainline churches; conservative, evangelical or fundamentalist churches; and African American churches, with some attention paid to their theological differences.

Thousands of Tennesseans were affected when an impasse in state budget talks forced a week-long furlough of state employees earlier this summer. “Tennessee State Government: How It Works or Doesn’t,” will examine such breakdowns in governmental function, as well as the overall structure, process and politics of Tennessee government. Former Metro councilman and community activist Stewart Clifton will coordinate this course, which will include the guidance of several state government experts.

Other courses that are available to all interested persons include:

· “Seven Favorite Symphonies,” with instructor Bob McNeilly;
· “A History of Irony: Why Most Americans Don’t Get It!” with writer and editor Derrick Norman;
· “Architecture: The Grand Design,” with architect and moderator Marion Fowlkes;
· “Primer of Physics and its Application to Society,” with Joseph Hamilton, Vanderbilt professor of physics;
· “Public Violence in American History,” with Samuel McSeveney, professor of history, emeritus;
· “Significant Issues in the U.S. Constitution,” with Tom McCoy, professor of law, and Nashville attorney Tom Kanaday.

Vanderbilt Chancellor Gordon Gee will be the featured speaker at the kick-off for the fall term Sept. 24 at Wilson Hall. Interested persons will have the opportunity from 5 to 6:30 p.m. to find out more about the courses, meet the instructors and join the program.

“Retirement Learning at Vanderbilt offers people the chance to listen and learn in a relaxed, exam-free environment,” said program director Norma Clippard. The program’s monthly Lunch ‘n Learn events, which feature guest speakers, are open to everyone, including non-members.

The semester membership is $60, which enables people to enroll in any or all classes for the term. To receive a brochure, call 322-5569 or visit the group’s website at

Contact: Ann Marie Owens, 615-322-NEWS,

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