The Pruit Memorial Symposium at Baylor University brings the perspective of Christian intellectual tradition on contemporary issues of common concern. Through the articulation of differing views within the realm of Christian understanding, Baylor aspires to be a locus for a distinctly Protestant and Christian world view that is true to the best thoughts in Baptist tradition. In 1996, Ella Wall Prichard and the late Lev H. Prichard III of Corpus Christi established the Pruit Memorial Symposium Endowment Fund in memory of Helen Pruit Matthews and her brothers, Dr. Lee Tinkle Pruit and William Wall Pruit.
2020: Gospel Music in Word and Song
The 2020 Pruit Memorial Symposium featured Grammy Award winner and professor of music at Middle Tennessee State University, Dr. Cedric Dent. On February 4, Dent offered a public presentation and headlined a gospel sing on theme "Gospel Music in Word and Song."
2019: Lord, Make Me An Instrument
The 2019 Pruit Symposium, “Lord Make Me An Instrument: Black Sacred Music at the Intersection of Gospel and Jazz,” was held on February 7 and celebrated the heritage of Black Sacred Music with an inspiring keynote presentation and gospel sing featuring Dr. Melvin Butler, associate professor of musicology at the University of Miami.
2018: She Sang Freedom with Dr. Tammy Kernoldle
In 2018, Dr. Tammy Kernodle presented "She Sang Freedom" on February 8. Kernodle offered a one-of-a-kind performance that traced the history of equality and social justice through the stories and music of Nina Simone, Aretha Franklin, Mavis Staples and Roberta Flack.
2017: Singing the Sermon: When the Message and Music Matter
The 2017 Pruit Symposium, "Singing the Sermon: When the Message and the Music Matter," was held October 5-6 and celebrated the heritage of Black Gospel Music with two inspiring keynote presentations by music and religion specialist Melvin Butler, associate professor of musicology at the University of Miami, and accomplished composer and worship leader, Stephen Newby, associate professor of music at Seattle Pacific University.
2016: Dr. Guthrie Ramsey, Scholar in Residence
In September 2016, the Baylor School of Music, the Pruit Memorial Symposium, and the Baylor University Libraries welcomed Dr. Guthrie P. Ramsey, Jr., as scholar-in-residence on September 26-27 for two public presentations.
2015-2016: Lift Every Voice and Sing
The 2015-2016 Pruit Symposium held February 25-16, 2016, featured “Lift Every Voice and Sing” with two inspiring public programs by The Rev. Dr. Emmett G. Price III, a leading expert on African American music, culture and worship.
2014: Marching to Zion - Celebrating and Preserving Black Sacred Music
The 2014 "Marching to Zion" symposium features Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon, Civil Rights Movement leader; Dr. James Abbington, renowned composer, conductor and professor of church music; Dr. Dwandalyn Reese, Curator of Music and Performing Arts at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture; and other experts on black sacred music and culture.
2013: Marching to Zion - Celebrating and Preserving Black Sacred Music
Black sacred music lives at the intersection of theology, worship and social practice. This year's symposium offers a brief program inspired by the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project at Baylor University and the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture. This first installment of "Marching to Zion" anticipates a larger, nationally focused conference to be held in 2014.
2009: Religion, Politics and Society: The Baptist Contribution
The 2009 Pruit Symposium examined the impact of Baptists on 400 years of history. Through plenary sessions, panel discussions, and presented papers, we sought a scholarly examination of Baptist tradition while commemorating this heritage. An outstanding array of academics and theologians offered insight and invited discussion on the mark Baptists have left upon both past and present.
2005: Global Christianity: Challenging Modernity and the West
Christian movements continue to exert significant influence in North America and increasingly in Latin America, Africa, Eastern Europe, and Asia. The growth of world Christianity since the eighteenth century confounds conventional expectations of modernity and secularization, challenged the centrality of the "West" in traditional narratives of Christianity, and presented an intriguing religious aspect of the postmodern condition.
2004: Slavery, Oppression, and Prejudice: Ancient Roots and Modern Implications
Slavery, Oppression, and Prejudice: Ancient Roots and Modern Implications will assemble an interdisciplinary group of scholars for an international conference addressing the nature, origins, and implications of the practice of slavery from antiquity through modernity, with special attention to the wide-ranging moral and theological responses the phenomenon has prompted among Christians.
2003: The Schooled Heart: Moral Formation in American Higher Education
American higher education, by some measures, has never been in better shape. More students are devoting more time and resources to gain more education than ever before. Yet more does not mean better. Measured by other criteria, American higher education faces significant challenges, not the least of which is a loss of the moral direction once part and parcel of the educative process. Scholars across the political spectrum disagree about the causes and possible remedies for this loss. However, they by and large agree that the failure of higher education to provide any kind of coherent moral vision for life constitutes a critical problem for contemporary culture.
2002: Christianity and Economics: Integrating Faith and Learning in Economic Scholarship
Baylor's Department of Economics in conjunction with the Institute for Faith and Learning will host "Christianity and Economics: Integrating Faith and Learning in Economic Scholarship" November 7-9, 2002. Jointly sponsored by Baylor's Pruit Memorial Endowment and the Lilly Fellows Program in Humanities and the Arts, the event will bring together the annual Pruit Memorial Symposium and the second annual Lilly National Research Conference. The Pruit Memorial Symposium will be organized around a keynote address and several plenary sessions. The keynote speaker will address the general conference theme and the plenary speakers will cover the various aspects of the role of the Christian economist.
2001: Celebrating Augustine's Confessions: Reading Augustine for the New Millenium
Augustine's Confessions is an autobiographical account of his journey from a modest childhood in North Africa, through his conversion in a garden in Milan, to a lengthy and distinguished career as the Bishop of Hippo. Using enormous literary and rhetorical skill, Augustine chronicles a story of education and miseducation and narrates a spiritual quest from the wasteland of sin to the liberation of salvation. The freedom that emerges permits him to move from faith to understanding and to understand the ultimate underpinnings of the relationship between God and the soul. The impact of the Confessions on subsequent Christian theology, literature, history, and philosophy, in both the Catholic and Protestant traditions, is unparalleled.
2000: Interpreting Christian Art
Since the iconoclastic controversies of the eighth and ninth centuries, the visual arts have been the subject of much ecclesiastical discussion and contention. In particular, since the mid-1960s Protestant scholars and clergy have been paying more attention to the potential role of the visual arts in the theology and liturgy of the Christian church. As a result, numerous programs were begun under a variety of nomenclature, e.g., Religion and the Arts, Theology and the Arts, etc. Despite the success of these endeavors, two basic problems have persisted that this sypmosium hopes to address.
1999: Cultivating Citizens: Soulcraft and Citizenship in Contemporary America
America's material state has arguably never been better, but many contemporary observers express deep concern for our democracy. Some point to complex pathologies that afflict important segments of society. Others note that disaffection and even cynicism pervade the electorate at large. Still others contend that a public spirited concern for the common good is on the wane. In response to such troubling observations, calls for revitalizing our sense of citizenship and those conditions that nurture it have become increasingly frequent. Some scholars argue, however, that revitalizing citizenship is not possible within the parameters of America's prevailing public philosophy--political liberalism. Others insist that only by drawing from the deep wells of our liberal tradition can we hope to reinvigorate democracy. Baylor University invites you to join us as we discuss these important concerns through plenary sessions, panel discussions, and presented papers.
1998: The Christ-Haunted South
This symposium explores a topic of both scholarly and practical interest, for its analysis of how religion has shaped Southern culture is not just an ivory-tower matter for artists and intellectuals; it is a topic that has relevance to the world in which we conduct our lives each day. It is our hope that the symposium this year will not only raise pertinent questions about the role of religion in Southern life, but actually will help to clarify the long-lasting and ongoing interplay of Christianity and culture in our region.