Not Ashamed: Celebration of an Abilene Christian President’s Life

Andrew Boone is a senior theatre major at ACU and has worked in Special Collections for three years. Today we honor the life of Abilene Christian University’s 9th President, William J. Teague with this blog post below from Andrew.

Not Ashamed: Celebration of an Abilene Christian President’s Life

Tom Teague told me he didn’t want me to refer to this as a funeral. “If there’s anything about this that resembles a funeral, we’ve failed,” he told me. Instead, he wanted the December 6 event to be a celebration of the life of his father, William J. Teague.

William J. Teague, left, next to his son Tom, right, at Tom Teague’s graduation. Sewell Photograph Collection, Milliken Special Collections, Brown Library. Abilene Christian University, Abilene, TX.

William (known as “Bill”) Teague served as the ninth president of Abilene Christian University from 1981 until 1991. An alumnus of Abilene Christian College with a degree in Bible and Speech, Teague believed strongly in the value of education, not only as a means of intellectual growth and professional preparation, but as a tool for personal and spiritual growth and connection.

The service was held, fittingly, in the Teague Special Events Center, on the indoor tennis courts that had been covered with carpet for the ceremony. Tom Teague achieved his stated goal; the memorial did not have the air of a funeral. Guests were jovial, talkative, and smiling, sharing stories about Teague’s life and food catered from Perini’s.

The ceremony was concise and ripe with humor, just like Teague’s mode of verbal communication. Dr. Gary McCaleb gave the invocation and read scripture.

Footage of Dr. Gary McCaleb interviewing then President Teague. Abilene Christian University and McCaleb, Gary, “On Campus Video, Featuring William J. Teague” (1986). McCaleb & Company.

Cecil Eager, a former ACU tennis coach and athletics director, shared memories of Teague’s life. Dawne Swearingen Meeks, chair of the ACU Theatre Department, led the singing of “I’m Not Ashamed To Own My Lord.”

This song provided a segue into a speech by Tom Teague, which centered around the theme of being “not ashamed.” Tom spoke of his father as being unashamed of his faith, his family, his values, his school, and his passions. I never knew Bill Teague, but the many stories that his son shared–some very old and others quite recent–gave me the feeling that I did.

To conclude the ceremony, I had been asked to sing “Danny Boy,” a personal favorite song of Teague’s. Tom introduced me by referencing my father, a sports broadcaster for ACU Athletics, and my great uncle Pat Boone, an old friend of Bill’s and a longtime friend of the university. I then led the room in the singing of ACU’s Alma Mater before being joined by thirteen other ACU theatre students who helped me lead “The Lord Bless You And Keep You.”

To say it was an honor to participate in the memorial service for such a beloved and important figure in ACU’s history would be greatly understating the point. As a student archives assistant in the ACU Special Collections, I spend all day handling, digitizing, describing, and sorting materials related to ACU/ACC history. Today, I had the privilege to be a part of it.

Andrew Boone sings at December 6 service for Dr. William J. Teague.

This just in: Millennial Harbinger issues owned by James Shannon

In late summer we acquired a half-dozen single issues of Millennial Harbinger owned by and addressed to James Shannon.  Three issues are from 1849, one from 1856, and two from 1857 and are in fine condition.  In 1849 Shannon was President of Bacon College in Harrodsburg, Kentucky and from 1856-1859 he was President at Christian University in Canton, Missouri.  Throughout these years he was an ardent defender of slavery and a frequent contributor to church papers such as Alexander Campbell’s Harbinger.

Each issue bears Shannon’s name at the top of the front cover. It is unlikely that Alexander Campbell was involved personally in the hand-addressing of each issue of the Harbinger.  A print shop employee probably penned the names, then bundled issues for each post office, and sent them on their way.  At their destination the postmaster split the bundle and distributed them accordingly.  At year’s end subscribers often had their issues bound to make preservation and reference easier.  Regrettably the covers were almost always stripped off in this process, thereby losing information such as news items, advertisements, or lists of agents who handled subscriptions for the paper.

Front cover, Millennial Harbinger, March 1849, owned by James Shannon

Front cover, Millennial Harbinger, May 1849, owned by James Shannon

Front cover, Millennial Harbinger, June 1849, owned by James Shannon

Back cover, Millennial Harbinger, June 1849, owned by James Shannon

Front cover, Millennial Harbinger, May 1857, owned by James Shannon

Front cover, Millennial Harbinger, July 1857, owned by James Shannon

In bookish terms, these issues are variations of ‘association copies.’ In this case, an association copy is a item owned by “someone of interest in his own right.”*  For this reason, plus the fine condition of the original covers, I sought them for our collection.  In historical terms, these items belonged to a truly significant figure in Stone-Campbell history.  Historian David Edwin Harrell described him as

“the unchallenged leader among Disciples proslavery advocates…probably no other man in the first-generation history of the Disciples came as close to rivaling Alexander Campbell in education, intellectual capacity, and sheer force of personality as Shannon…[He} was also active as a preacher and was regarded by Campbell and many other Disciples leaders as the most brilliant speaker in the brotherhood.”**

How significant it will be to interpret these issues in a museum exhibit or in a class of students.  They forcefully convey the ‘realness’ of the past and the positions Shannon advocated. The January 1856 issues carries an article describing a disturbance at Bethany College among the student body over slavery.

Front cover, Millennial Harbinger, January 1856, owned by James Shannon

Article about a disturbance at Bethany College over slavery, Millennial Harbinger, January 1856, owned by James Shannon

Article about a disturbance at Bethany College over slavery, Millennial Harbinger, January 1856, owned by James Shannon

Article about a disturbance at Bethany College over slavery, Millennial Harbinger, January 1856, owned by James Shannon

Article about a disturbance at Bethany College over slavery, Millennial Harbinger, January 1856, owned by James Shannon

Back cover, Millennial Harbinger, January 1856, owned by James Shannon

The January 1856 issue also bears a pencilled notation concerning the ordination of J. W. McGarvey.  There is also a faint pencil notation on the front cover (see above) calling attention to an article in the issue by C. L. Loos.  Presumably these notations are in Shannon’s hand.

Title page, Millennial Harbinger, January 1856, owned by James Shannon. Notations very likely in Shannon’s hand.

Title page, Millennial Harbinger, January 1856, owned by James Shannon. Notations very likely in Shannon’s hand.

Our normal course of accessioning calls for single issues of periodicals to be foldered,  boxed, and catalogued with other issues of the same journal.  In this case I will accession them as a manuscript collection in Shannon’s name.  What sets these issues apart is Shannon’s ownership and having them in a discrete manuscripts collection will ensure their preservation and visibility to our students and faculty, to the scholarly community, and to the church.

*John Carter, ABC for Book Collectors. New York: Knopf, 1991, 25.

**David Edwin Harrell, Jr. Quest for A Christian America: The Disciples of Christ and American Society to 1866. Nashville: DIsciples of Christ Historical Society, 1966, 122.

Online materials for teaching Restoration Movement history

As an archive embedded within a university, we value the teaching of our history.  We value the practice of teaching as well as the content of the teaching.  We value pedagogy and the raw archival and print materials historians use to teach and write and reflect about the past.  Every so often someone asks if I know of teaching materials online that might be useful for class or personal study.  Usually they want something like a set of class presentations.  If you are looking for something like this, I commend a series now underway by Mike Baker, minister for the Concord Street Church of Christ in Orlando, FL.  He is teaching through Restoration history on Wednesday nights and has uploaded video files and PDFs of his presentations to his congregation’s website.