By Sam Pierce
Pulaski Heights United Methodist Church in Little Rock will present the 2019 Raney Lecture Series, beginning Friday. It will feature the Rev. Dr. Sam Wells, Vicar of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, from London, England.
“I’ve never wanted or needed to make a distinction between pastoral and academic, or between personal and political,” Wells said. “My sermons are always about now and forever, daily worries and eternal truths.”
Wells has served as a Church of England parish priest for 20 years. He also spent seven years in North Carolina, where he was Dean of Duke University Chapel. But this is his first time in the state of Arkansas.
“I like to face up to the biggest questions and try to find Christian ways to address them,” Wells said. “I’ve had a lot of experience on both sides of the Atlantic.”
Saturday’s and Sunday’s events will feature live performances from St. Martin’s Voices, which is made up of past and present choral scholars. Recent performances have included Mozart Requiem and Vaughan Williams Serenade to Music with the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, and Beethoven Mass in C with Southbank Sinfonia.
Andrew Earis is the director of music at St. Martin-in-the-Fields.
“I hope (first-time guests) find insight and inspiration around some of the most important and difficult things in our lives,” Wells said. “They’ll also hear the glorious choral music of St. Martin’s Voices interweaving with what I have to say.”
On Saturday, there will be a luncheon following the 11 a.m. worship service in Wesley Hall as well as a concert later that evening, beginning at 7 p.m. with the St. Martin’s Voices. Both events are free to the public, but FUMC senior pastor Britt Skarda said guests must register for the luncheon. Deadline to register is Thursday. For more information, contact the church at (501) 664-3600 or online at phumc.com/raney. Skarda said there were already more than 200 guests registered for the luncheon.
“This is one of our oldest lecture series, I believe it began in 1951 and has been an annual event,” Skarda said.
Wells said he got into ministry because he wanted to be with people as they faced the most difficult things in their lives in the light of faith.
“I don’t want to save those moments for evenings and weekends,” Wells said. “I wanted to be doing that all the time, building congregations that are what one theologian calls, ‘communities of character.’”
Raney Lecture Series Schedule
“Be Angry but Do Not Sin” Ephesians 4:25-5:2; John 6:35, 41-51
7:00 p.m. Worship, Sanctuary 8:00 p.m. Reception in Gathering Hall
“Perspectives on the Family”
11:00 a.m. Worship, Sanctuary
12:00 p.m. Laity/Clergy Luncheon, Wesley Hall
7:00 p.m. Choral Concert, Sanctuary
“If Ye Love Me: An hour-long concert of words and music exploring the theme of love” including works by Thomas Tallis, Ola Gjeilo, Gerald Finzi and Moses Hogan with Revd Dr Sam Wells and St Martin’s Voices, directed by Andrew Earis from St. Martin-in-the-Fields, London
8:00 p.m. Reception in Gathering Hall
“Three Ways to Pray”
RCL readings for Transfiguration
9:00 a.m. First worship service, Sanctuary
10:00 a.m. Reception, Gathering Hall
11:00 a.m. Second worship service, Sanctuary