News and Events
Pepperdine University Announces Changes in Bible Lectures and Church Relations
Pepperdine University religion professor Jerry Rushford is concluding 30 years of distinctive service as director of Church Relations and director of Pepperdine's acclaimed Bible Lectures effective May 4, 2012. Following a year of teaching in Pepperdine's international program in London, England, he will return to Pepperdine to be director of the Churches of Christ Heritage Center.
The announcement was made by Pepperdine University President Andrew K. Benton who has named Mike Cope, a widely respected national figure in the Churches of Christ, to direct Pepperdine's Bible Lectures program following Rushford's transition at the conclusion of the 2012 lectures effective May 5, 2012.
Benton added that Rick Gibson, associate vice president for Public Affairs and chief marketing officer, has been appointed to the position of vice president for Public Affairs and Church Relations effective November 1, 2011. Gibson will continue in his role as the University's chief marketing officer.
"We've known the day would come when Dr. Rushford would conclude his leadership of Bible Lectures," says President Benton. "Jerry deserves our deepest gratitude and respect for his three decades of exemplary service. His enthusiasm, dedication, and passion for excellence set high standards, which called upon all of us to be our better selves. We look forward to his continuing at Pepperdine as director of our Churches of Christ Heritage Center."
In naming Cope director of Pepperdine's Bible Lectures, Benton said the momentum of the lectures will continue to be enhanced and strengthened. "With Mike's years of ministry leadership, national acclaim as a creator of group worship experiences, and his love for the historical Churches of Christ, he will ensure that Pepperdine's Bible Lectures will continue to be successful and of significant value to members of the Churches of Christ both here and abroad."
Cope is a minister, author, lecturer, and prolific writer whose blog has been visited by four million people in the past six years. He was a minister for 27 years, including 18 at the Highland Church of Christ in Abilene, Texas, and eight years at the College Church of Christ in Searcy, Arkansas. He teaches a freshman course at Abilene Christian University each semester, and has delivered the keynote address at Pepperdine's Bible Lectures more often than any other speaker over the past 30 years. He is also the president of a nonprofit ministry focused on encouraging discussions about faith and culture among young adults called "What Really Matters."
The former editor of two magazines–21st Century Christian for six years and Wineskins for 12 years–he is the author of five books, including 2011's Megan's Secrets: What My Mentally Disabled Daughter Taught Me About Life and One Holy Hunger: When God is All You Want. Megan's Secrets followed the 1994 death of the Cope's 10-year old daughter, Megan. The family's journey of loss and joy-amid-grief has sharpened their interest in those things that ultimately matter in life.
Mike and his wife Diane live in Abilene, Texas. They have been married 33 years and have two children: Matt, a physician, and Chris, a freshman ministry major at Abilene Christian University. Matt and his wife Jenna have two daughters, Reese and Ellie.
Benton underscored that Pepperdine's Office of Church Relations and the annual Bible Lectures will continue to build on the solid foundation created and sustained by Rushford. "In naming Rick Gibson vice president for Public Affairs and Church Relations, we are placing a strategic initiative at Pepperdine in very capable hands," continues Benton. "We consider the University's Christian heritage and ties to the Churches of Christ as a cornerstone of our mission." Benton added that Gibson, a former minister in the Churches of Christ, has served on the Bible Lectures team and in senior management positions at Pepperdine for a decade, earning the respect of both his colleagues within Pepperdine and members of the Churches of Christ.
Commenting on the new appointments, Rushford notes, "President Benton is to be commended for encouraging these two multi-gifted church leaders to provide leadership and direction in Church Relations and Bible Lectures at Pepperdine. I know the president is elated that they have agreed to serve, and I share his joy."
Pepperdine University is committed to pursuing the highest standards of academic excellence within an environment that celebrates and extends the spiritual and ethical ideals of the Christian faith. Pepperdine's 69th Bible Lectures takes place May 1 to 4, 2012.