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Chapel is a daily event for students and faculty to gather together to worship God and build community. Senior Mason Clemens said he is thankful for chapel and its influence in his life.

“Whenever someone is on stage and says a prayer or message, even if not all of them connect with me every single day, there are definitely those days where it touches you,” Clemens said. “The message hits you right in the heart, and you are just thankful for that moment when God uses that moment to comfort you and talk to you.”

Clemens said chapel promotes camaraderie while giving time for him to worship with friends and spend time in conversation.

“One of the best parts about chapel is picking a chapel seat next to your best friends,” Clemens said. “I would say hanging with your friends both before and after chapel is one of the best things. It’s definitely part of our central theme, the community of mission, and it embodies that.”

-Savanna Distefano, intern


football-2009-090-0596Besides turkey, Thanksgiving means football to many people.

But on the weekend before Thanksgiving, there’s a new football game in Searcy town.

Harding, undefeated at 11-0, champions of the Great American Conference, and the No. 3 seed in NCAA Division II Super Region 3, hosts Central Missouri, 9-2 and the No. 6 seed, in the first round of the playoffs at 1 p.m. at First Security Stadium Nov. 19.

The game is the only instate college game this weekend, and we would love to have you in the stands helping cheer on the Bisons. All seats are general admission and are $10 for adults and $5 for students.

Go Bisons! Fight on to victory!

Tom Buterbaugh, editor/designer




Thanksgiving break is only a week away, and many on campus are starting to think about what they’re thankful for.

“I’m thankful for family — my immediate family and my Harding family,” Sarah Bobo, young alumni associate, said. “They are almost the same now since I’ve been here so long.”

Bobo graduated from Harding in May of 2014 and started her position in August 2014. She enjoys working with young alumni that care about giving back to the University.

“It’s amazing to see how many young alumni give back as soon as they graduate,” she said. “I’m thankful for the people who see the importance of Harding while they’re here and while they’re not here.”

Watching the waters rise as the rains continued to fall, I thought about all of the Harding students we have from South Louisiana. I know that such an historic flood will affect their families and create concern and confusion for the coming weeks and months.

I spoke to one student, and she told me that their family was affected and that “it’s pretty bad.” One of my coworkers has family and friends whose homes were completely flooded. A minister friend of mine in Baton Rouge said that the flood “created problems for so many of our members.” Another friend in Alabama told me that their church was going to raise funds and send supplies down.

We have all seen pictures on the news and Facebook of the disaster relief efforts, and I’m so thankful that God is directing so many people and supplies to help out. My prayer, and I’m sure yours, too, is that God will work through this and that those affected will find the help and relief they need. One way to help is to contact the South Baton Rouge Church of Christ. They are coordinating an effort to help as many as possible in their area and can be reached at 225-927-4673 or through their website www.sbrcc.org.

Morris Seawel, senior advancement officer

As we continued our “Looking for Wilberforce” trip, we left Oxford the next morning and drove 50 miles north to Olney. This lovely little English town was, for 16 years (1764-79), the home of John Newton. Newton is best known in history as the writer of what is probably the most beloved hymn in the English-speaking world, “Amazing Grace.”


The former captain of a slave ship, Newton later become one of the most influential spiritual leaders of his day. Metaxas describes Newton as a defining influence in the life of William Wilberforce, first when Wilberforce was a child and even more significantly during what Wilberforce would call “the great change.”

Newton ministered for the parish church in Olney from 1764 until 1779. It was during this time that he became good friends with Wilberforce’s uncle and aunt, William and Hannah Wilberforce, who lived near London. Following the death of Wilberforce’s father and the illness of his mother, he went to live with his “Uncle William” and “Aunt Hannah” in Wimbledon. It was here that young Wilberforce became acquainted with some of the greatest and most devout spiritual leaders of his day. Among them was the former-slaver-turned-minister Newton, who was in his 40s during the time that Wilberforce lived with his aunt and uncle between the ages of 9 and 12. Metaxas speculates, “It was he who would have given little Wilberforce his first knowledge of slavery” (p. 7).


The greatest impact that Newton seems to have had on Wilberforce happened many years later. By that time, Newton had left Olney and had moved to London to work with the Church of St. Mary Woolnoth. 1775 was the year of what Wilberforce came to call “the great change.” It was the year when he transformed from a self-indulgent son of privilege into a serious disciple of Jesus, intent on giving his life to the will of God. Metaxas chronicles this year of spiritual crisis and relates the details of a transformative meeting between the 26-year-old Wilberforce and the 60-year-old Newton on Dec. 7, 1785.

Wilberforce must have poured out his heart now to the one person who might understand his anguish and his difficult choices. But as so often is the case, Wilberforce discovered what he had so terribly feared as a chimera, nothing as bad as he had thought. Newton didn’t tell him what he had expected — that to follow God he would have to leave politics. On the contrary, Newton encouraged Wilberforce to stay where he was, saying that God could use him there. (Metaxas, p. 59)

The words “God could use him there [Parliament[” set the course for the remainder of the life of Wilberforce. The old slave ship captain gave wise counsel to the distressed young politician that day, and the story of the fight against the British slave trade was forever changed.



I’ve long been thankful for Newton because of the power that the words to “Amazing Grace” have had on my own life. But during our time in Olney, my gratitude had a different focus. On that day, I was most grateful for the counsel, encouragement, comfort and direction that he gave to Wilberforce. He called him to remain in Parliament and engage the great struggles of his day, and he assured him that “God could use him there.” Thank you, John Newton!

Final stop: Kingston upon Hull

Bruce McLarty
London, England
August 7, 2016


I was reading Amazing Grace by Eric Metaxas when I learned that the journals, letters and other important papers from the pen of William Wilberforce could be found today in the rare books and manuscripts section of the Bodleian Library at Oxford University. Seeking every potential connection with Wilberforce, I began exploring the possibility of viewing these original documents and perhaps even holding them in my hands. Jean Waldrop, director of the Harding University Brackett Library, assisted me stateside, and I corresponded about this matter with Colin Harris at the Bodleian Library via email. They both helped me to get a good idea of what sorts of materials were in the Wilberforce collection.

Wilberforce 3-2

Our very busy first day in England was spent seeing four different Wilberforce sites. Then, on the morning of our second day, we rented a car and drove to Oxford. Arriving in the early afternoon, we quickly moved into our hotel in town and then headed to the Bodleian Library. When we arrived at the library, which is actually a collection of libraries, I was directed across the street to a building where I could apply for a reader’s card. I walked up to the desk, mentioned that I had been in correspondence with Mr. Harris, and asked if I could speak with him. The receptionist called his office and then reported back to me that Mr. Harris had taken a tea break. They then led me to the office where I was taken through the process of obtaining a reader’s card. After that, I put my bag in a locker, went through security again, and was directed upstairs to find Mr. Harris. (I ought to take the opportunity at this point to acknowledge that everyone in this entire process could not have been more kind and helpful.)

By the time I arrived in the rare books reading room, Mr. Harris had returned from tea. He was exactly as I had pictured him through his emails, a man perfectly made to work in a reference room. Mr. Harris spends his days helping students locate the materials they are searching for while he calmly maintains the decorum and care of the manuscripts such a place requires. In short, he was tremendously helpful to me and very patient with my lack of knowledge concerning the everyday processes of his reading room.

Mr. Harris helped me locate the index of the Wilberforce collection and then showed me how to fill out a rare book request form. It was about 3:45 p.m. when he told me that if I would submit my requests by 4 p.m., then the materials would be delivered to me at 5 that same afternoon. I quickly followed his instructions and submitted the forms. Then, at 5 p.m., I walked to the desk and was handed four packets of William Wilberforce materials. The moment was surreal. I could not believe what I was holding in my hands!

Wilberforce 4

For the next hour, I was lost in a world of Wilberforce. I was holding his journals, reading his handwriting, feeling the texture of the sheets of paper on which he wrote, and sitting enveloped in the musty smell of old documents — perhaps even the smell of his writing desk. Some of the items I read were as mundane as a shopping list while others were as sublime as this reformer’s spiritual journals. Metaxas writes about how severely critical Wilberforce was with himself, and I noted that on several of the entries I read in the spiritual journals, Wilberforce began with the words “Alas! Alas!”

Wilberforce 2-2

I only read the Wilberforce papers for about an hour because I knew that I couldn’t begin to do justice to their study in the short time I had that day. And I knew that the Brackett Library has obtained digital and microfilm copies of this same material for the students and faculty of Harding University to use this year as part of Harding Read 2016. This was simply a visit to see the originals with my own eyes and to hold them in my own hands. On my journey looking for Wilberforce, this was a most incredible day!

Next stop: Olney

Bruce McLarty
London, England
August 6, 2016




After we left Westminster Abbey, Ann and I walked north on Whitehall up to Trafalgar Square. Our mission was to locate the 1828 oil on canvas Wilberforce portrait by Sir Thomas Lawrence. After a false start when we entered the National Gallery instead of the National Portrait Gallery, we finally found our way to the correct entrance. As an added bonus, the Portrait Gallery is free.

It took us awhile to find the Wilberforce painting, but we finally located it in a room dedicated to 18th-century social reformers. As we turned the corner, there he was! I don’t know if you feel this way or not, but to me portraits are not like other artwork; portraits look back. Eyes meet eyes, and you take the measure of one another. So, there I was looking at what Sir Thomas Lawrence saw when he looked at Wilberforce in 1828. The painting was never completed, so it almost appears as though a spotlight is shining on the face of the man who led the campaign to abolish the Slave Trade in Great Britain.

Looking at the face in the painting, I was reminded of so many personal details that Metaxas shared in his “painting” of Wilberforce in Amazing Grace. Here are but a few:

  • Wilberforce was “tiny and stood just over five feet with a child-sized torso.” (p. 43).
  • He suffered from ulcerative colitis his entire life. (p. 43).
  • He was “greatly renowned for his singing voice.” (p. 29).
  • He was once called “the wittiest man in all of England.” (p. 28).
  • He was highly regarded for his “intelligence, charm and wit.” (p. 21).
  • He had extremely poor eyesight. (p. 55).

Mextaxas’ most extensive physical description of Wilberforce is set in 1807, the year the Slave Trade was abolished: “His always frail body, which had been wracked with pain and discomfort ever since he could remember, was the body of someone much further along in years. The constant doses of opium pushed on him by his doctors for his ulcerative colitis had taken their toll on his eyes, and the curvature of his spine and the telltale slump of his head that would mark him in later years were already discernible. He’d entered Parliament as a boy of twenty-one, fresh from the bright green lawns of Cambridge — but how the years and battles had aged him.” (p. 205)

As I looked into the eyes of Wilberforce (actually looking through Sir Thomas Lawrence’s eyes as he looked into the eyes of Wilberforce), the thing that most impressed me was that he did not look coldhearted, distant, broken or bitter. Even after decades of staring unflinchingly into the hellish realities of the Slave Trade and after facing endless defeats in Parliament, Wilberforce remained a kind, caring, even playful husband and father. All the harsh realities of his life had failed to harden his heart. There was still room for joy, for love, for family and for God.

Does all of this show in the eyes of a man like Wilberforce? I don’t know. But as I continue “looking for Wilberforce,” I think I found a bit of him in a painting in the British Portrait Gallery.

Next stop: Clapham.

Bruce McLarty
London, England
August 5, 2016


Photo by Robert Muth via Wikimedia Commons.

Photo by Robert Muth via Wikimedia Commons.

After our visit to Parliament, we walked across the street to Westminster Abbey. This beautiful and ancient church has been the site of coronations and royal weddings for a thousand years. It also is the place where England has bestowed special honor on kings, queens, politicians, poets, missionaries and others by providing a place for them to be buried. Westminster Abbey feels like a cemetery primarily because it is a cemetery, albeit inside one of the most beautiful church buildings in the world. We went there on our “looking for Wilberforce” tour because on Aug. 3, 1833, William Wilberforce was buried in the Abbey.

Everyone who loves Wilberforce is thankful that he lived to see the day when Parliament voted to end not only the slave trade but also the institution of slavery itself. He received the news of this long-awaited event on Friday evening, July 26, 1833, more than 45 years after he had introduced his first bill in the House of Commons to abolish the slave trade. Finally, finally, the day had arrived. Wilberforce is reported to have exclaimed, “Thank God that I should have lived to witness a day in which England is willing to give twenty millions sterling for the Abolition of Slavery” (Metaxas, p. 274). Only three days later, Wilberforce breathed his last.

Amazing Grace, thankfully, contains the text of a letter that was delivered to the sons of Wilberforce a few hours later on the day he died.

We, the undersigned members of both Houses of Parliament, being anxious upon public grounds to show our respect for the memory of the late William Wilberforce and being also satisfied that public honors can never be more fitly bestowed than upon such benefactors of mankind, earnestly request that he may be buried in Westminster Abbey; and that we, and others who may agree with us in these sentiments, may have permission to attend his funeral. (Metaxas, p. 275).

Photo via www.westminster-abbey.org.

Photo via www.westminster-abbey.org.

So, William Wilberforce was buried in Westminster Abbey among kings and poets. Today, 183 years later, most tourists don’t even notice his name inscribed on the floor between the window where you buy your ticket and the stand where you pick up your audio tour. I have to confess that I overlooked it and had to be helped to find it later by a very kind red-robed Abbey marshal. At another location within the Abbey, there is a statue of Wilberforce, seated in a chair and with his head tilted in his very distinct and characteristic way. He looks pleasant, almost amused, as he stares back at the tourists listening to their headsets. I wondered how many people knew anything about this remarkable social reformer. And I wondered if there were others there in the Abbey at that moment who had come, as we did, just for Wilberforce — not for kings and queens and generals but for a tiny, sickly member of Parliament with a deep faith, a tender conscience, and an indomitable spirit who refused to allow the world to ignore the horrible plight of slaves.

We visit cemeteries because they somehow help us feel closer to the people whose names are engraved on the stone markers. There it is easier to remember and reflect on the difference the person made in our life and on the world. And in those moments, it is almost as inevitable as breathing for us to give thanks to God for the person whose life we remember. That is how I felt in Westminster Abbey when I went there “looking for Wilberforce.” The next stop on this journey will be the National Portrait Gallery.

Bruce McLarty
London, England
August 3, 2016

PokestopThere are a surprising number of people wandering the campus in July. Is it because of Honors Symposium? Maybe summer session? Or is it Pokémon Go? My experience suggests the latter as an explanation for the increased foot traffic on campus these last few days.

I’ve been hooked since downloading Pokémon Go on Thursday, and campus has turned out to be one of the best places to play for a few reasons.

From dorms and academic buildings to Uncle Bud and the McInteer Fountain, there are Poké Stops everywhere. When playing on campus, you won’t have to miss catching a Snorlax by the Student Center clock because you ran out of Poké balls. When you get tired of trekking all over campus, set a lure at the Poké Stop right next to your dorm and reap the rewards without leaving your room.

With five Pokémon gyms on campus, there are plenty of places Abrato stake a claim for your team. Over the past few days, I’ve seen all of them shift to blue, red, yellow and back again. Now that it’s a Pokémon gym, people may finally know where to find the Lee Building!

My favorite part of Pokémon on campus is the sort of community that it has formed. Wherever you are playing Pokémon Go, you have likely experienced this same sort of kinsmanship with other trainers. There’s some kind of affirmation when you all show up at the same hot spot (between Cone Hall and Harbin Hall), when you draw a crowd of 50 to a cluster of lures by the Lily Pond, or when you wander past a stranger and he knows exactly what you’re looking for — “Eevee is just around that corner.”

There are plenty of other Searcy locations for Pokémon trainers like the courthouse square or Berryhill Park, but none are quite as vast as Harding’s campus. Some are saying that the novelty of the game will have worn off by the time students arrive for the fall semester, but I disagree. Truly, playing on campus is a sort of novelty in itself. And as for the dedicated trainers, it may be well into the school year before we catch them all.

Shelby Dias, director of news services

Name: Carlie Tacker
Classification: Junior
Major: Graphic Design
Hometown: Searcy, AR
Studying at: Art and Design International — Italy, Spain, France, and England

HU: What is your current location?
CT: London, England

HU: What has been the most interesting thing that has happened on your journey so far?
CT: I saw a bullfight in Madrid.

HU: How many pictures do you think you’ve taken as of now?
CT: I’ve filled two memory cards & took up most of the storage on my phone.

HU: What is your favorite photo you’ve taken so far?carlietacker1

CT: It’s from my phone because I haven’t uploaded or edited any off of my camera… It is looking into the courtyard of the Lourve in Paris right before sunset. I love the sun flare. The lighting makes it look almost magical.

HU: What is the most delicious thing you’ve eaten so far?
CT: I love tiramisu!

HU: What has this experience studying abroad taught you?
CT: I’ve learned to go with the flow. That’s been a little hard for me because I like to be in control. In a different country, it’s difficult. I find myself not knowing what’s happening or what’s coming next, but I’ve ended up having the most fun when I’m willing to just sit back and let things happen.

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