By Hannah King
Ben Mandrell, pastor of Englewood Baptist Church, and his wife, Lynley, will host the annual Crabtree Lecture Series April 5 in the G.M. Savage Memorial Chapel.
As a marriage and dating lecture series that dates back to 2000, the Crabtree lectures focus on family life.
T.T. Crabtree, 1946 Union graduate, endowed the lecture series as a gift to Union before his death in 2007.
“It’s not just about marriage and dating, and there has been a bit of ebb and flow to the topics that have been discussed,” said Greg Thornbury, vice president of the Office of Spiritual Life and dean of the School of Theology and Missions.
Anna Beth Morgan, director of library services, associate vice president for academic resources and Crabtree’s daughter, emphasized that her father saw his marriage as a “lifetime commitment and a service to the Lord.”
Crabtree and his wife, Bennie Cole, both Union graduates, met here and married in 1946. They were married for more than 60 years.
A graduate of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Crabtree was longtime pastor of First Baptist Church in Springfield, Mo.
“Christian higher education at Union helped prepare him for a lifetime of ministry,” Morgan said. “At Union he met a good Christian woman, and together they chose to serve the Lord their whole life. Even their estate helped them continue to make kingdom contributions to others after they go to heaven.”
Past Crabtree Lecture speakers include Andrew Davis, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Durham, N.C., who spoke on “Timeless Foundations for Marriage”; Russell Moore, dean of the School of Theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., who spoke on adoption and orphans in 2011; and Frederica-Mathewes Green, author and speaker on religion and abortion who presented a feminist, pro-life lecture in 2012.
This year’s theme is maintaining healthy relationships that are surrendered to Christ’s control.
“Even though we are going to be speaking from the relationship between husband and wife, the things we are going to be talking about are really going to be helpful for all relationships,” Mandrell said, adding that session one will highlight repentance and communication of apology.
Mandrell will co-lead session with his wife, and together they will focus on the topic of listening to others effectively.
“Jesus made it clear [from the great commandments] that relationships are what life is all about,” Mandrell said. “If relationships are at the heart of human nature, then the question comes, ‘How do we have great relationships?’ and communication is at the very center of our relationships.”
Mandrell also said college is a unique and crucial time to explore relationships.
“When you have that many people close together, there is going to be triumph and there is going to be tragedy, and what I love about college is that it’s not just an education from an academic standpoint,” he said. “It’s an education from a relational standpoint.”