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Community theologian Tex Sample to deliver 2014 Cole Lectures

by Sep. 26, 2014, 3:10 PM

headshot of Tex Sample
Tex Sample (submitted image)

The Rev. Dr. Tex Sample, author, community activist, storyteller and retired professor, will deliver the 2014 Cole Lectures at Vanderbilt Divinity School.

Sample will discuss “Talking the Talk—Walking the Walk: Fluency and Other Material Practices in Ministry,” at 7 p.m. Oct. 2 in Benton Chapel. Sample will return to Benton Chapel for his second Cole Lecture, “Walking the Ministry: The Formation of Material,” at 10 a.m. Oct. 3. Sample is the Robert B. and Kathleen Rogers Professor Emeritus of Church and Society at Saint Paul School of Theology in Kansas City, Missouri, where he taught for 32 years.

Sample’s books include Blue Collar Ministry, U.S. Lifestyles and Main Churches, The Loyal Opposition: Struggling with the Church on Homosexuality (edited with Amy Delong), and Blue Collar Resistance and the Politics of Jesus: Doing Ministry with Working Class Whites. His latest one is Human Nature, Interest, and Power: A Critique of Reinhold Niebuhr’s Social Thought.

“Tex Sample is a storyteller whose stories are not tall tales or oversized yarns,” said Emilie M. Townes, dean of Vanderbilt Divinity School and the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor of Womanist Ethics and Society. “His stories point to our utter humanity and challenges our assumptions as he points the way to a justice rimmed with God’s mercy and sustained by holy justice. For Tex, we all belong to God’s story that calls us to a way of life molded by worship, communion, ministries of caring, justice and peace.”

Sample was born and grew up in Brookhaven, Mississippi. His father named him after Texanna Gillham, an African American woman who lived near Shelbyville, Texas. Sample earned a bachelor of arts degree from Millsaps College, a master of divinity degree from Boston University School of Theology and a doctorate of philosophy from Boston University Graduate School. While a graduate student, he was a fellow in the Boston University Human Relations Center. He later was awarded a divinity doctorate from Coe College. Sample has held a variety of positions in the church and the community throughout his life.

As a young man, he drove a cab, worked in construction and was a roustabout in the oil fields. He also served as a minister for eight years and three years as director of social relations for the Massachusetts Council of Churches. In that position, he was a lobbyist for the council and worked actively in the civil rights and peace movements.

An ordained elder in the United Methodist Church, Sample and his wife, Peggy Sample, reside now in Kansas City, Missouri. The church remains central in their lives. For the past eight months, Sample has been serving as interim pastor at Trinity United Methodist Church, an inclusive congregation that welcomes gays and lesbians. Sample is also a self-described baseball fanatic and has said that he follows the sport with “enormous energy.”

Philanthropist Edmund W. Cole, president of Nashville & Chattanooga Railroad and treasurer of the Vanderbilt University Board of Trust, endowed the annual Cole Lecture Series in 1892 “… for the defense and advocacy of the Christian religion.” Cole’s gift provided for the first sustained lectureship in the history of Vanderbilt University.

Previous Cole Lecturers include: Harry Emerson Fosdick, George Buttrick, H. Richard Niebuhr, Paul Tillich, James Barr, Gustavo Gutierrez, James Cone, Edward Farley, Don Beisswenger, Gene TeSelle, David Buttrick, Jim Wallis, James Lawson and Elaine Pagels.

The lectures are free and open to the public. They will be video-streamed live on the Vanderbilt news page and posted later on the Vanderbilt YouTube channel.

For more information, email Sha’Tika Brown or call 615-936-8453.

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