Biggs giving 2014 Small-Thomas lecture April 7
United Methodist Pastor, award-winning interfaith dialogue, race relations, and Oklahoma Center for Community and Justice leader, The Rev. Dr. Mouzon Biggs, will give the 2014 Small-Thomas Lecture at 6:30 p.m. on April 7 in the Hall-Perrine Room of Thomas Commons. Biggs will speak on “Honoring the Faith of Another without Dishonoring Your Own.”
Biggs is the director for life of the National Conference for Community and Justice, now the Oklahoma Center for Community and Justice. He is a founding member and host of that organization’s Jewish-Christian Dialogue Study Group, and a faithful supporter of the Oklahoma Center for Community and Justice Interfaith Trialogue Series. He is involved in the Martin Luther King Commemoration Society, and founding trustee of the Knippa Interfaith/Ecumenical Lecture Series. This work has resulted in his receiving numerous awards and honors, including the Tulsa Interfaith Award; the National Conference of Community and Justice Award; the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “Keeping the Dream Alive Award;” the Tulsa Jewish Community’s “Righteous Gentile” Award; and Tulsa Rotary’s “Spirit of Will Rogers Award.”
In 2012 he was elected to the Tulsa Hall of Fame for his work in inter-faith and inter-racial efforts. Also in 2012 he was recipient of The Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University distinguished alumnus award. He has addressed churches, colleges, conventions, and chambers of commerce across a 30-state area.
Biggs holds a Master of Theology degree from Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University; a Doctor of Divinity from Texas Wesleyan University; and a Doctor of Humane Letters from Oklahoma City University. He was senior pastor of Boston Avenue United Methodist Church in Tulsa for 30 years, growing the congregation to 8,000 and the operating budget from $200,000 to $2.6 million.
The Small-Thomas Lecture Series “Dreams of Peace: Visions of the Future” originated as a joint venture of Cornell College and St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The series has assisted the College and Church in the shared goal of building a community where people of all cultures and religions enjoy respect and the ability to develop understanding and support of one another.
Numerous violent events that have occurred around the world can be tied to intolerance related to religious, ethnic, and gender differences. As a church-related institution of higher learning, Cornell has an obligation to confront intolerance, encourage understanding, and shape the attitudes of current and future civic leaders. The lecture series helps educate citizen leaders who understand the value and importance of diversity in our society.
The lecture series, which began in 2000, is funded by Richard Small, a past chair of the Cornell Board of Trustees and a 1950 graduate, and his wife, honorary alumna and trustee Norma Thomas Small. The lecture series honors Norma’s late mother, June, and her late father, Cecil, who was Cornell’s buildings and grounds superintendent (1956-73) and consultant (1979-91).
Previous speakers include Sean Farren, a key negotiator in efforts to bring peace to Northern Ireland; Edwina Gately, a Catholic laywoman who founded a safe haven for prostitutes in Chicago; U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill.; the Rev. Raphael Warnock of Ebenezer Baptist Church; feminist Islamic scholar, Amina Wadud; and Dolores Huerta, co-founder of United Farm Workers.