MACON – Mercer Chancellor Dr. R. Kirby Godsey will deliver the University’s 30th annual Harry Vaughan Smith Distinguished Visiting Professor of Religion Lectures Feb. 22-23 in Newton Chapel.

Dr. Godsey will present three lectures on the theme “Romancing the Unknown.” The series opens on Tuesday, Feb. 22, at 11 a.m. with “The Fabric of the Unknown,” followed by “The Myth of God” at 7:30 p.m. The closing lecture, “Amazing Grace,” will be held at 10:10 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb 23.

The lectures, co-sponsored by the Office of the President and the Columbus Roberts Department of Religion in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, are free and open to the public. Limited seating will be available for in-person attendance, and a livestream will be provided on the Department of Religion webpage.

“There is no one better qualified than Dr. Godsey to deliver the 30th edition of these lectures,” said Dr. Paul Lewis, professor of religion. “Not only is Dr. Godsey a creative and provocative thinker who embodies the intent of the series, but he also knew Dr. Smith personally and was instrumental in establishing this series.”

A dynamic and compelling speaker, Dr. Godsey is often invited to lecture on a range of topics from leadership to geopolitical and religious trends. His powerful, thoughtful presentations engage and inspire audiences across the nation.

Dr. Godsey earned doctoral degrees both in theology and philosophy and has been the recipient of four honorary doctorates. He is the author of When We Talk About God, Let’s Be Honest, as well as The Courage Factor, Centering Our Soul, Is God a Christian?: Creating a Community of Conversation and The God Particle: God-Talk in a Big Bang World. He has written numerous articles for professional journals and has served as a consultant on leadership and higher education administration. He is a member of several civic and professional boards and committees. He is chairman of the Peyton Anderson Foundation in Macon and principal of Spearman Investments Inc.

Dr. Godsey was the University’s 17th president and CEO from July 1, 1979, until June 30, 2006. As the longest-serving Mercer president to date, Dr. Godsey’s administration greatly expanded the scope of the University’s endeavors, including the beginning of seven new schools as well as the Mercer University Press and the Mercer Engineering Research Center.

The Harry Vaughan Smith Distinguished Visiting Professorship was established in 1990 after Dr. and Mrs. Harry Vaughan Smith made a major gift to Mercer to underwrite a visiting professorship and lecture series in the Department of Religion.

The gift bears witness to the lifelong commitment of the late Dr. Smith to the University, which began when he enrolled as a freshman in 1920. A 1924 graduate, Dr. Smith served as pastor of several prominent churches in Georgia before becoming alumni secretary and assistant to the president at Mercer in 1946, a post he held until 1955. From 1955-1970, he distinguished himself as executive director of the Georgia Baptist Foundation. In his many years of service, Dr. Smith was a faithful worker on behalf of all Georgia Baptist causes, but he always maintained a special interest in the University and the cause of Christian higher education.

About the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Mercer University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences serves as the academic cornerstone of one of America’s oldest and most distinctive institutions of higher learning. The oldest and largest of Mercer’s 12 schools and colleges, it is a diverse and vibrant community, enrolling more than 1,900 students, dedicated to learning and service through the practice of intellectual curiosity, respectful dialogue and responsible citizenry. The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences offers majors in more than 30 areas of study, including more than a dozen pre-professional academic tracks, with classes taught by an outstanding faculty of scholars. In 2015, Mercer was awarded a chapter of The Phi Beta Kappa Society, the nation’s most prestigious academic honor society that recognizes exceptional achievement in the arts and sciences. For more information, visit