The Greatest Work in the World
Education as a Mission of Early Twentieth-Century Churches of Christ: Letters of Lloyd Cline Sears and Pattie Hathaway Armstrong
Imprint: Wipf and Stock
"This book is a marvelous glimpse into perceptions on Christian liberal arts education in the correspondence of a young couple whose past and future weigh heavily in churches of Christ higher education. Their granddaughter, Elizabeth Parsons the editor, has indefatigably searched to establish the backgrounds for these letters and supply information on all the persons mentioned. The outcome is remarkable."
--Thomas H. Olbricht, Distinguished Professor emeritus of Religion, Pepperdine University, Malibu, CA
"There are few occasions when a book comes along that completely catches you by surprise. Such is the case with The Greatest Work in the World, edited by Elizabeth C. Parsons. . . . What prompted a religious tradition like the contemporary churches of Christ, known for its sectarianism, its sectionalism, and its bias against the labors of the intellect, to engage in a frenzy of educational effort in the first decades of the 20th century? These efforts left remnants of genuine but short-lived schools across the midwest and southwest. These schools valued holiness and liberal education and were known for their counter-cultural embrace of the kingdom of God as lived out in hard scrabble outposts such as Cordell, Oklahoma. What they stood for will surprise you."
--Robert M. Randolph, Chaplain to the Institute, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA
"The letters Elizabeth Parsons has collected and edited reveal much about the relatively unknown worldview of the churches of Christ in the early twentieth century on matters of gender, education, and theology. The Sears's correspondence provides a unique and valuable window into what mattered to a group of people wrestling with the heritage of their faith as they confronted the challenges of the rapidly changing world around them."
--Loretta Hunnicutt, Professor of History, Pepperdine University, Malibu, CA
"This volume provides rare insight into the inseparability of religious beliefs and the formation of educational institutions among theologically conservative white southerners a century ago. These fascinating letters, ably edited by Elizabeth Parsons, reveal hidden dimensions of the early churches of Christ--a kingdom-centered mission ethic, countercultural pacifism, support for marital partnership, and commitment to liberal arts education. I recommend this fine book with great enthusiasm."
--Dana L. Robert, Truman Collins Professor of World Christianity and History of Mission, Boston University, Boston, MA