Annual Lectureship to Focus on Dr. John Wesley Raley
September 28, 2007
The life and ministry of legendary Oklahoma Baptist University President John Wesley Raley will be revisited during the university’s Gaskin Lectures on Monday, Oct. 8.
Longtime pastor and 1962 OBU graduate Bill Bruster will deliver the 16th annual Gaskin Lectures, which focus on Oklahoma Baptist history and heritage. Bruster was an OBU student during the final years of Dr. Raley’s presidency. Raley served as OBU president from 1934-61, spanning the Great Depression, World War II, and a period of post-war growth for the university.
Dr. Bruster’s first lecture, “A Short Man With a Long Shadow,” will be at 10 a.m. The evening lecture, “The Most Influential Baptist in Oklahoma History,” will be at 7 p.m. Both will be in the upper level of OBU’s Geiger Center. Admission is free and the public is invited to attend. After the evening lecture, Bruster will have a time of dialogue with the audience.
Born in Madill, Oklahoma, Bruster attended Oklahoma City’s John Marshall High School. He completed a bachelor of arts degree in history at OBU. He earned both the B.D. and Th.D. degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. His doctoral dissertation was titled, “A History of Oklahoma Baptist University with Special Reference to the Contributions of Dr. John Wesley Raley.” He also completed post-graduate studies at Regents College of Oxford University.
Bruster’s career includes extensive experience as a pastor, educator, evangelist and author. He served in pastorates in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Texas. He was pastor of the First Baptist Church of Abilene, Texas, from 1985-94. He and his wife, the former Charlotte Meyer, also a 1962 OBU graduate, have two children and two grandchildren.
Friends of Dr. J.M. Gaskin and advocates of the preservation of Oklahoma Baptist history and heritage established the J.M. Gaskin Lectureship. The objectives of the lectureship are to provide and sustain a series of lectures which will preserve and promote the study of Oklahoma Baptist history and heritage.
Gaskin served as the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma’s first historical director. Known as “Mr. Oklahoma Baptist History,” he led in forming the Oklahoma Baptist Historical Commission in 1952 and was elected as the organization’s first historical secretary in 1953. He also was founding president of the Oklahoma Baptist Historical Society in 1956 and has been the only editor of the Oklahoma Baptist Chronicle, which was begun in 1958. In 1976, the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma employed Gaskin as director of history for the convention’s Historical Commission.
Gaskin has written 15 books about Oklahoma Baptists. He provided the major impetus for Oklahoma Baptist research and publication over the last four decades. The lectureship recognizes his contributions to the preservation and promotion of Baptist History and Heritage.