Rev. Michael-Ray Mathews delivered this year's lectures on the theme:
"Prophetic Resistance & Revolutionary Love"
Rev. Frank Stagg
preaching at Northminster
About Rev. Matthews:
Rev. Michael-Ray Mathews is the visionary immediate past president of the Alliance of Baptists having served a four-year tenure. He brings over 30 years of leadership experience to his work as Deputy Director for Faith in Action (formerly PICO National Network). He is the host of the Prophetic Resistance Podcast, where he engages multi-faith leaders in conversations about cultivating communities of belonging and sacred resistance to injustice. Rev. Mathews is the co-editor of Trouble the Water: A Christian Resource for the Work of Racial Justice published by the Alliance of Baptists. A visiting professor of public theology at American Baptist Seminary of the West in Berkeley, he is also a senior fellow at Auburn Seminary in New York. Rev. Mathews is co-founder of and public theologian-in-residence with Sympara, a multifaith/interspiritual community of practice, repurposing spiritual assets for the common good.
The Thomas Stricklin Lectures in Church History
History of the Lectures
The Frank and Evelyn Stagg Lectures in Prophetic Christianity were established at Northminster Church in the 1990’s by Welton and Judy Gaddy and Don and Cathe Nixon. Welton was then Northminster’s senior pastor, Don its minister of the arts and Cathe it’s Director of Christian Education. In Northminster’s early days Dr. and Mrs. Stagg were frequent guests with Dr. Stagg preaching on several memorable occasions, including at the ground-breaking for the construction of Northminster’s building, at its dedication, both in 1991, and at Dr. Gaddy’s installation as Northminster’s first pastor in January of 1993. Several of Dr. Stagg’s sermons are included in Dr. Gaddy’s book Coming Home: For All Who Dream of a New Church, a history of Northminster’s early days. The Staggs were important mentors to Northminster.
Dr. Frank Stagg, a native of Eunice, Louisiana, was a theologian, seminary professor, author and pastor over a 50-year career. He taught New Testament interpretation and Greek at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary from 1945 until 1965 and at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky from 1964 until 1978. His publications, recognitions and honors earned him distinction as one of the eminent theologians of the past century. Known as a progressive activist, he addressed a variety of contemporary issues including civil rights, gender equity, Vietnam, the First Gulf War, ecumenism and aging. Dr. Stagg died in 2001 at age 89.
Mrs. Evelyn Stagg, a native of Ruston, Louisiana met Frank at Louisiana College in Pineville where they were both students. They were married in 1936. Mrs. Stagg wanted to pursue a seminary degree and become ordained. The seminary where Frank was enrolled did not grant degrees to women, but it did allow her to take classes and sit for all the exams. She reportedly did extremely well although her name was never posted with the men’s when grades were published.
Together Dr. and Mrs. Stagg co-wrote the book Woman in the World of Jesus, an important early work championing equity for women in the church. A trailblazer for Southern Baptist women in ministry, she was an authority on classical studies, which led to her extensive research on the cultural/historical status and treatment of women in the ancient world and in the world into which Jesus was born. In 1983 Mrs. Stagg was one of 33 women who helped found an organization known today as Baptist Women in Ministry. She died at age 96 in 2011.
The Thomas Stricklin Lectures
Rev. Dr. Walter B. Shurden
1998 - Rev. Dr. Stan Hastey
2003 - Dr. Bill J. Leonard, "Being Church in a Pluralistic Society"
2007 - Rev. Dr. Joan Brown Campbell, "Stories from the Ecumenical Movement"
2020 - Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, "Religious Freedom"
Biography of Dr. Thomas Stricklin
Written by his wife, Marjorie Stricklin*
Thomas Edgar Stricklin was born November 12, l932, in Eden, Mississippi, twelve miles from Yazoo City. At this time Eden was a typical small Delta farm village of perhaps two hundred inhabitants. Tom was the youngest child of Avery and Julia Stricklin. Their other offspring were two girls, Joyce and Loyce, and a boy, Billy, who died at age five years. Tom’s father, a World War I veteran, was a logger, farmer, and merchant. His mother was a schoolteacher. Avery was from a Primitive Baptist background and Julia was a Southern Baptist. This was a family with a strong sense of church, family, and community commitment. Tom said his Dad gave away large portions of his store staples because he could not stand to see anyone go hungry—whether black or white. In such a small community, he knew who needed help. It was a credit business, (I still have the ledgers) and when his father died, his mother said not to tell her how much people owed—she didn’t want to know-- all this generosity from people who lived in very modest circumstances themselves. Material belongings were not high priority with this family.
The close knit community of Eden has produced an amazing number of PhD’s
Dr. Lucy Shackelford—Health and Human Performance—ULM
Dr. Shackelford—Retired English professor at LaGrange
Dr. James “Bub” Stricklin—PhD from MIT in nuclear physics—teaching at Texas A&M when he died suddenly in his 40’s—1st cousin of Tom
Dr. Vernon Netherland—Tom’s childhood friend and classmate at Mississippi College— PhD in music education—taught public school music in New York City until retirement.
Dr. George Johnston, who was professor of architecture at University of Georgia or Georgia Tech.
Dr Ann Stricklin Piete—professor. of English at LaGrange
Dr. Tom Stricklin—associate professor. of history at ULM
After graduating from Yazoo City High School in 1950, Tom attended Mississippi College (1950-1954) where he received a Bachelor of Science in Education. From 1954 to 1956, he attended the University of Alabama and graduated with a Master of Arts degree. In 1956, Avery suffered a serious heart attack, so Tom managed the general merchandise store for a year. When I say general merchandise, I mean very general—seed, feed, clothing, food kerosene—the works! In the summer of l957, Tom enlisted in the U.S. Army and served two years.
In the fall of 1959, he came to Hinds Junior College, Raymond, Mississippi to teach history. This is where I first met Tom. I was teaching music at Hinds. Although I had grown up in Vicksburg, only thirty-five miles away, and our school time frames were the same, our paths had never crossed. In November, we had our first date, by March we were engaged, and on July 9, l960, we married. At ages twenty-eight and twenty-nine, we know it was true love, so why tarry!
Our first child, Hal Avery was born on Labor Day, September 4, l961. In l965, we moved to Starkville for Tom to work on his PhD in history at Mississippi State. On June 22, l966, our second child, Mary Mina, was born. Then we moved to Monroe in l967. Tom had completed all his course work at Mississippi State and lacked only his dissertation. It was completed in January l968. The Privilege of Freedom from Arrent and Molestation in the House of Commons 1604-1629 was the title of this scintillating best seller!
European history was tom’s general field of interest, but Tudor-Stuart England was his love and specialty. On our trip to England, Wales, and Scotland, in l985, (our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary celebration), he could not get enough of the “real thing” .He was ecstatic over seeing and feeling the things he had lectured about for so many years. He often mentioned that we missed so many significant points of interest, and we looked forward in anticipation to returning after his retirement and filling in the gaps.
Tom loved teaching. Imparting historical knowledge and working with students was his career calling. He had absolutely no interest in writing scholarly papers, although he was well equipped to do so, and directed many master’s theses. When told he would never be promoted to full professor because he refused to publish he said, “So be it, I only want to teach and work with student”. Under his leadership, Epsilon Tau chapter of Phi Alpha Theta, national history honor society, won eighteen national best chapter awards. Through mum sales for the homecoming game, they raised money for scholarships, and students often presented papers at regional and national conventions.
Tom regularly attended historical conventions and served on several national committees. He thoroughly enjoyed the camaraderie of his fellow labours. Together as Danforth Fellows, we attended many conferences and convocations dealing with how to better serve the need of college students.
According to his students, Tom administered very comprehensive tests, always a combination of objective and subjective questions. He felt this was the only true measure of a student’s knowledge. Thinking and writing intelligently were two very important educational tenets to him. He also required written book reports on prescribed subjects, and spent hours checking to see if the material was plagiarized. There was always “proof” when he confronted a student as to the veracity of his work. Many times, I heard him laughingly say, “It is a never-ending battle to out-wit the students”.
Some of his duties at NLU included overseeing and advising the graduate students and chairing faculty search committees. The departmental chairman told me that he always knew Tom’s assignments would be carried out promptly, efficiently and diplomatically. He has related to me several times how much he misses his dependable friend and colleague of twenty-eight years.
In l969, my mother cane to live with us because of the debilitating symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease. Tom was as devoted as I to her. Mother always said Tom was a better nurse than I because of his gently calm manner. Fortunately, Tom’s family usually had relatives living with them, so he was accustomed to having an extended family in the hours. I could not have survived the responsibility of Mother’s care without Tom—seven years in our home and seven years in a nursing home. Always sensitive and loving, he cried with me the day we had to put Mother in the nursing home.
A caring and devoted husband and father, he was very supportive of him family’s activities. There were many years of baseball, softball, science and social science projects with the children. He was always directly involved. I specifically remember Hal building a detailed replica of Stonehenge under Tom’s scrutiny and Mary’s sprouting butterbean project that he carefully helped her plan. My many fingers inf musical pies were strongly supported by Tom. He was such a perceptive person and realized how much music meant to me. He allowed my the independence to pursue my interests as much as I desired. Whenever I got behind in housework he said, “Do what you can and let the rest go”. Good meals were more important to him than an immaculate house, so I tried to oblige.
Just before he died, he told me “Marji, I must see Hal and Mary and tell them how very proud I am of them”. Gentle, tender and patient by nature our only arguments were over my stern discipline (he thought) of the children. Since I was always at home, it usually fell my lot to punish and I did so “on the spot”. Nevertheless, his firm stands on right, wrong, respect, responsibility and concern for others helped mold Hal and Mary into the strong, stable individuals they are today.
During Tom’s illness there were very few joyful moments, but there were four memorable ones, and we joyfully cried together over these. The first was my being named “Teacher of the Year l995” by the Louisiana Music Teachers Association. He had worked secretly with a friend to document my musical activities and he was elated to learn that I was chosen the winner. The second was the birth of our first grandchild, Conn Thomas McCandlish, July 20, 1995. Number three was the birth of our twin granddaughters, Julia Rivers Stricklin and Cara McCord Stricklin on November 3, l995. Through the grace of God he was able to see all three children on their birth dates.
Then in October l995, Dr. M Scott Legan established the Dr. Thomas E. Stricklin Lectures in Church History Endowment Fund. When Welton told us of this—in a hospital room-I had not seen such a glorious smile from Tom in months. He said, “I can’t think of anything that would be nicer”. This was truly a visionary idea from his close friend, colleague and fellow Mississippian. Our families have worked and played together for many years. What a lasting gift to a church that has meant so much to both of us. Being involved in the formation of Northminster was an exciting and thrilling experience. Never before had we been so active or so vocal about our beliefs. I would like to think this “birthing” brought out the best in us. Tom willingly accepted leadership roles at Northminster because he really believed in what was transpiring and wanted to be a part of it. Tom hoped the lectureship would help give the church and our community some insights from outstanding church historians. Problematic spiritual situations concern us all. The generous response from friends and family to this endowment fund has been so exciting. This “teaching” gift is the most appropriate honor Tom could have received.
Tom and I spent just over thirty-five years together. They were wonderful years and I miss him terrible, but his legacy of love for church, family, and community help give me strength to continue life’s journey. His tenacious belief in HOPR will remain forever etched in my memory. Even though he knew he was dying, he refused to give up hope. I feel very blessed that God gave us the earthly time together to build a beautiful marriage and family. We are all the recipients of God’s amazing grace.
* Marge passed away in 2015