New graduate Bible scholarship honors president emeritus Hazelip

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Harold Hazelip has devoted his life to preaching and to Christian education.

From the earliest days of his career in ministry that began in 1949, Hazelip has preached countless sermons and has had a profound impact on the lives of many.

When he was a young preacher at Highland Church of Christ in Memphis, Hazelip encountered a couple who were enrolled in medical school. The husband grew up in a home with no religious faith; the wife grew up in church. The husband approached Hazelip one Sunday and asked to talk to him for a few minutes.

hazelip_mugAt the time, Hazelip was preaching at the early and late services and sometimes teaching Bible class in between. He decided to take that interim time between worship assemblies to start “listening to people.” It was during this time that the man and Hazelip struck up a relationship that had them month-after-month stepping out to a nearby local diner during “class time,” for waffles, coffee and talking about matters of faith.

The experience helped shape the couple’s faith journey, and a deep friendship with Hazelip and his wife, Helen, was forged. The couple, now retired have spent their careers helping others and recently thanked Hazelip for his influence by establishing the Harold Hazelip Graduate Bible Scholarship to benefit students in the Lipscomb University College of Bible & Ministry’s Hazelip School of Theology.

The scholarship was established in honor of Hazelip, Lipscomb University president from 1986-1997. The donors, who wish to remain anonymous, said they established the scholarship in recognition of Hazelip’s years of service to the university and to encourage future generations to “follow in his footsteps of scholarship, faith, leadership and service.”

The purpose of this merit-based scholarship is to promote the training of preachers who will serve in Churches of Christ. It will provide scholarship aid to qualified students enrolled in the college’s Hazelip School of Theology’s Master of Divinity program.

“Through this endowment, the donors want to hold up Dr. Hazelip’s legacy for future generations with this gift,” said Leonard Allen, dean of the College of Bible & Ministry. “They greatly admired his preaching, and it impacted their lives early in their Christian experience. It meant a great deal to them and shaped their life path as strong Christian leaders. He brings a dignity, a passion, an artfulness and an eloquence to preaching that is a great example for others to follow.

“This kind of scholarship is exactly the kind of partnership we need to encourage our students to follow a Christian vocation and to help grow this endeavor. We greatly appreciate the donors for their gift, and it’s truly an honor to be able to recognize Harold in this way.”

The scholarship is a reflection on the impact Hazelip had throughout his career.

“You are doing more good than you can possibly know,” said L. Randolph Lowry, Lipscomb University president. “The reality is that the good that we do so many times, we can’t know. This is a unique moment in that we have the affirmation of that. We thank God for Harold Hazelip and his service to this institution. We thank God for his example that touched the hearts of these donors, and we are thankful for their generosity of spirit as they seek to support the institution and students to come.”

hazelip_250?Hazelip says he is honored by this gift and looks forward to the impact it will have on future students.

“I appreciate this gesture of kindness from the donors,” said Hazelip. “They have given me so much more than I have ever given them, and it has nothing to do with financial things. I look forward to the good that the Bible faculty at Lipscomb will be able to do in years to come with tools such as this scholarship. I am honored and humbled.”

Hazelip has mentored and influenced generations of preachers.

“Harold Hazelip is a passionate intellect,” said Ken Durham, who holds the Batsell Barrett Baxter Chair of Preaching at Lipscomb. “He is one who facilitates the discipleship of the mind. The kind of insight, vigor and eagerness that so many of us in the preaching profession gleaned from Harold’s leadership, writing and teaching is an incalculable gift. He was one who awakened our minds as preachers to honor Scripture.”

“As I began preaching I didn’t have many role models that I was drawn to,” he continued. “But it was in my conversations with Harold Hazelip that I was reawakened and forced back to seminary to fill in some huge gaps in my understanding so that I really could preach the word in a Bible-shaped way. Harold has shown us such a love of Scripture, such passion for the mind of Christ.”

Allen agrees.

“Early in my theological training in Memphis, Dr. Hazelip became a mentor to me,” he recalled. “I had the opportunity to hear his sermons and I remember telling my wife that I had never heard preaching like that before. There was something different about the character of it…something rich and something eloquent and something accessible.”

In April 2005, Lipscomb’s graduate Bible program was named the Hazelip School of Theology in honor of Hazelip as the result of an endowment established by Lois Renick of Bowling Green, Ky., in recognition of “his contributions to Lipscomb as well as to Christian education and preaching.”

Hazelip became president of Lipscomb University in 1986 after serving 14 years as dean of the Harding Graduate School of Religion in Memphis. He retired from the presidency in 1997 and assumed the role of chancellor. Today he is president emeritus at Lipscomb. As president, Hazelip was known for strengthening Lipscomb University’s identity as a leading academic institution while remaining committed to Christian values. During his tenure, David Lipscomb College became Lipscomb University. He also led the university through several additions to the academic program. The Master of Arts in Religion and Master of Education degrees were added along with the first semester-abroad program.

Hazelip, a Kentucky native, earned his junior college diploma from Freed-Hardeman University in 1948 and his bachelor’s degree from Lipscomb in 1950. He earned a Bachelor of Divinity, a postgraduate degree, from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1958 and a Ph.D. in religion from the University of Iowa in 1967. He preached for Churches of Christ in Kentucky, Iowa and Tennessee from 1949-1986 and preached by appointment while president at Lipscomb and in his retirement. He served as speaker for the Herald of Truth television series from 1971 through 1992. He is also the author of several books.

The Lipscomb University’s graduate Bible program was established in 1983 and is accredited by the Association of Theological Schools. It offers a Doctor of Ministry degree as well as a Master of Divinity, a Master of Theological Studies and a Master of Arts in Christian Ministry.