Held annually at the College since 1877,  the Margaret M. Cummings Conversations on Faith, Learning, and Service, renamed in 2019 and formerly known as "February Meetings" have offered Maryville College and local community an opportunity to come together to consider questions of faith and responsible living in the world. In years past, guest speakers and special music have been highlights of the condensed lecture series, which is open to all members of the College community, people in the area, and visitors, including the College’s Board of Church Visitors. Please note: Cummings Conversations will take place on March 9th and 10th 2020.


 We're proud to announce that Dr. Lucia Hulsether,  assistant professor of Religious Studies at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY, will be the guest speaker for Maryville College’s 2020 Cummings Conversations.

The theme for this year’s Cummings Conversations is “Buying, Selling, and Doing the Right Thing: Life Under Capitalism,” and Dr. Hulsether will give a presentation titled, “Woke Capitalism” on March 9th at 7:00pm in the Harold and Jean Lambert Recital Hall in the Clayton Center for the Arts, as well as a presentation titled, "Total Depravity" on March 10th at 1:00pm in the Center for Campus Ministry. Both presentations are free and open to the public. 


Past Themes and Speakers

2019 - "On Faithful Families and Families of Faith: The Collective Spirituality of Black Evangelicals." with Dr. Todne Thomas.  Read More.

2018 - "Living Well: Making Good Choices in A Material World." with Dr. Laura Hartman.  Read More or See Flyer

2017 - "Terabithia and Beyond: Celebrating the Life and Work of Katherine Paterson" with Katherine Paterson. Read More or See Flyer

2016 - "Beyond Forgiveness: A Murder Victim's Family Member on Redemption, Reconciliation, and Restoration" with Jeanne Bishop. Read More or See Flyer

2015 - “Dancing at the Crossroads – Transforming Conflict and Building Peace in Church and Society” with Canon David Porter. Read More or See Flyer

Who was Margaret Cummings?

Margaret McClure Cummings was born in 1903 and first came to Maryville College in 1935 with her husband John and their three children, when John was called to be the Director of Personnel and a teacher of Bible at the College. After John’s untimely death just over a year later, Margaret went to seminary in New York to prepare herself for collegiate teaching. In 1940, she joined the Maryville College faculty as Instructor in Bible and Religious Education, and she continued to teach at the College for 29 years. Since Bible was a required course, every student in those years was reached by “Ma Cummings.” In 1968, she led the first international study trip for Maryville’s new Interim Term, between Thanksgiving and Christmas, to the Middle East. In addition to her college teaching and raising three children, she was very active at New Providence Presbyterian Church, ordained in 1953 as its first woman elder, and teaching an adult Sunday School Class and Women’s Bible Studies for many years. She died in 2004, at the age of 101, leaving a legacy of faith, service and life-long learning. Thus, it is fitting that her name will live among us, doing what she loved—sparking conversation, inquiry and faithful action— through THE CUMMINGS CONVERSATIONS—in years to come.