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K-State Today

October 12, 2015



Parrish Lecture on Religious History to feature Edith Blumhofer from Wheaton College

By Bri Beck

Edith Blumhofer, professor of history at Wheaton College in Chicago, will present "Aimee Semple McPherson: That Somewhat Different Entertainer" as the fourth Parrish Lecture on Religious History at Kansas State University, sponsored by Kansas State University's history department.

The lecture will start at 8 p.m. Oct. 29 in the Tadtman Boardroom in the K-State Alumni Center and it is free and open to the public.

The Parish Colloquium lecture is a great opportunity to learn about one of America's most powerful speakers of her time. Glamorous and charismatic, Sister Aimee, the focus of Blumhofer's presentation, was as powerful in her day as Billy Graham is today. Although gossip and controversy sometimes surrounded her life, which at times read like a scandal sheet and at other times like a romance novel, her flamboyant style brought many to Christ. Come to the lecture and find out why Sister Aimee's life warranted Kathie Lee Gifford's Broadway Musical, "Scandalous."

A native of Brooklyn, New York, Blumhofer earned a doctorate in American Religious History from Harvard University. Her research focuses on the history of Christianity in post-Civil War America, and she has recently been exploring the development of Protestant hymnody. Blumhofer enjoys cooking and working with children, and most summers she combines these interests by cooking at a camp for inner-city children at Brant Lake in New York's Adirondack Mountains.

Blumhofer is currently writing the book "Evangelicalism: A Very Short Introduction" for Oxford University Press and researching three 19th century British hymn writers — Frances Ridley Havergal, Cecil Frances Alexander, and Catherine Winkworth — for a book soon to be published by Paulist Press. Moreover, she has written another book, "People of Faith," which is currently at press.

In addition to teaching in the Wheaton College history department, Blumhofer directs the Institute for the Study of American Evangelicals. Current institute projects include examining changing American Protestant conceptions of "mission to the world, 1910-2010," a centennial review of the vision of the Edinburgh Missionary Conference; examining the changing face of American evangelicalism, funded by the Henry Luce Foundation; exploring the ways in which confessional traditions in the United States respond to the anticonfessionalism that has characterized American religion, funded by the Lilly Endowment; and preparing a set of Web-based resources to facilitate the teaching of church music, funded by the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion. Another institute project Blumhofer is involved in is developing a six-part interactive small-group video series on the history of Christianity in America.

The Parrish Lecture in Religious History honors the name of Fred Louis Parrish, a former longtime history professor at K-State. The series features a biennial address by a leading figure in the field of religious history and continues Parrish's tradition of fostering the free exchange of ideas and insights in a communal setting. The lecture series replaces the Parrish Colloquium, which was established in 1984 by Parrish's daughter and son-in-law, Ethelinda Parrish Amos, the first female president of K-State's student body, and Wendell Amos. It was created to honor Parrish's role in bringing lively discussions of history and religion to the Manhattan community.

Parrish earned his doctorate in the history of religion at Yale University in 1923, and served as head of the history department, government and philosophy at K-State — then known as Kansas State Agricultural College — from 1942 until his retirement in 1958. He was well known on campus and in the Manhattan community as an avid conversationalist. Parrish was for many years the guiding light for the local Conversation Club, which met monthly to discuss and debate new controversial books and ideas in religious history.

For more information on this event, contact Bob Linder in the K-State history department at 785-532-6730.