Abilene Christian University’s Brown Library announced the kickoff of fundraising for the Landon Saunders Center for Joy and Human Flourishing at the annual Friends of ACU Library dinner Wednesday night. The new center, named in honor of longtime Church of Christ minister Landon Saunders, has a mission to promote conversation and reflection upon the primacy of joy and human flourishing.
A fundraising goal of $4.5 million has been set with the objectives to:
- Instill themes of joy, belonging, and flourishing in all ACU students.
- Host and curate conversations in the form of curricular planning, conferences, multimedia content and lecture series for religious and academic groups.
- Cultivate strategic partnerships between religious and non-religious institutions that promote joy and human flourishing.
Saunders and his non-profit organization, Heartbeat Inc., donated more than 50 years’ worth of personal correspondence, financial records, audio and video recordings, photos and curricular materials to the ACU Brown Library. He has been the president of Heartbeat since 1971. The program began through Herald of Truth Ministries, and in its early days it was based in Abilene. Later, he relocated Heartbeat to Houston and then to New York City, where he hosted the Heartbeat radio program, which was broadcast on NBC, CBS and Armed Forces radio networks.
At Wednesday’s dinner, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters and named the ACU Library Friend of the Year.
“This collection is a treasure trove of content for researchers of nonprofit management, religious communication, and religious history,” said James Wiser, dean of library sciences. “Landon has been one of the most influential ministers in Churches of Christ for the past 60 years, and this collection will allow future researchers to study his life’s work and approach. Moreover, our digitization of his lectures and sermons will give them new life in a digital age, as already we are realizing that his work has been listened to hundreds of times around the world in the short time they’ve been accessible from the library’s Digital Commons site.”
A native of West Virginia, Saunders served as a minister in Churches of Christ in Arkansas and Tennessee before moving to Abilene in 1971. For several years, he was the minister at the Minter Lane Church of Christ in Abilene. Today, he is a resident of Norwich, Vermont, and in addition to being a frequent lecturer at churches and universities, he also serves on the board of the Yale University Center for Faith and Culture and as a Fellow of the Caris Life Sciences Foundation.
“Landon has an uncanny ability to communicate religious and theological messages to audiences that don’t have a religious background,” Wiser said. “He has also served as mentor to hundreds of business leaders and ministers from around the world. He is also the nicest man alive and the most mesmerizing speaker.”
If you’d like to contribute to establishing the new center, visit acu.edu/give and mention the Landon Saunders Center as the designation or in the comments
— Connor Mullins
April 5, 2023