|Richard Hughes speaking at this retirement reception|
Eight years ago Richard T. Hughes, the distinguished scholar of Christian primitivism and the author of books on Christian America, the vocation of the Christian scholar, and Christian higher education, joined the faculty of Messiah College. Hughes came to the tiny village of Grantham, Pennsylvania from the beaches of Malibu where he taught religion at Pepperdine University.
As a Christian scholar, Hughes was attracted to the mission and community of Messiah College. I know that several American religious historians and gurus in the world of church-related higher education were surprised by the move, but for Hughes, who had added a healthy dose of Anabaptism to his Churches of Christ background, it made perfect sense. Messiah College was the type of Christian intellectual community where he wanted to end his academic career.
Today we celebrated the tenure of Richard and his wife Jan at Messiah College. Messiah president Kim Phipps had a few words to say about how she was able to lure Richard and Jan away from Malibu. The reception was well-attended by students in Richard and Jan’s First Year Seminar “Learning to Tell Our Stories” and a former student shared some thoughts about how this seminar changed his life.
I am privileged to call Richard a friend and a colleague. He is one of the most gracious scholars I have ever met. Before I had the chance to wish him warm regards on his retirement this afternoon he had already invited me and my wife Joy to dinner with him and Jan “sometime soon.”
Richard is not done writing. He plans to stay in south central Pennsylvania and continue work on several projects. Stay tuned.