Emory & Henry is both a sanctuary for those in the exercise of their faith and a battle line in the preservation of ideas, according to the keynote speaker during Thursday’s Founders Day celebration at Emory & Henry College.
The Rev. Charles W. Maynard, a 1977 E&H graduate, said that Emory & Henry, in the spirit of one of its namesakes, Bishop John Emory, provides a place for spiritual refuge in the midst of the human struggle. “The campus itself is a something that has drawn many to God,” Maynard said, emphasizing that all the work at the college, not simply the work done in religion courses or in the college chapel, is “sacred.”
Maynard, a member of the Board of Directors for the National Parks Conservation Association, compared Emory & Henry to the Appalachian Trail, which was founded as a place of refuge and reflection as well as a “battle line” against the challenges of life. “Emory & Henry is a battle line in the preservation of ideas … and the work here has always been to provide a refuge for humanity.”
During his speech, which was delivered in Memorial Chapel on the E&H campus, Maynard spoke of the great respect that John Emory had earned as bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Emory, who placed great value on higher education, was instrumental in the founding of New York University and Wesleyan University.
Emory visited the Holston Conference of the Methodist Church in 1832. Three years later, he died in a carriage accident. The following year, 1836, Emory & Henry was founded. “I’m sure that the memory of this man, who was dedicated to the education of young people, was fresh in the minds of the founders,” Maynard said.
Maynard’s speech preceded the presentation of a Founders Day Citation to the Holston Conference of the United Methodist Church, which in 1836 formally approved the founding of Emory & Henry and voted to name it for Bishop Emory and for Patrick Henry, a patriot of the American revolution and Virginia’s first post-colonial governor. The Holston Conference continues to support church affiliated colleges through funding outreach and student scholarships.
The celebration also included recognitions by the E&H Alumni Association of distinguished alumni and faculty members. Among the honorees were Lt. Col L.H. "Bucky" Burruss (Class of 1965, the Carl and Ruth Looney Humanitarian Award; Kenneth M. Sorenson (Class of 1979), the Distinguished Achievement Award; J.D. and Patsy Fitts Reed (Class of 1968 and 1970), the Fred Selfe Distinctive Service to Emory & Henry Award; Tarah L. Taylor (Class of 2003), the A.L. Mitchell Young Alumnus of the Year Award; and Dr. A. Denise Stanley, the James A. Davis Faculty Award. See related story.
Maynard's speech, which focused primarily on John Emory, was the first of two speeches devoted to the College's namesakes. The second speech, which will focus on Patrick Henry, will be delivered by Thomas S. Kidd, an asssociate professor of history at Baylor University wh ohas written extensively about Henry and the American revolution.
While much of Maynard’s speech was devoted to Bishop Emory, the College spent time later that day honoring both of the men for whom the College was named. Two statues, one depicting Emory and the other depicting former Virginia Gov. Patrick Henry, were unveiled in a ceremony in front of Kelly Library. See related story.
To see pictures from the Founders Day celebration and the unveling of the statues click here.