Monday, October 24, 2016


I was thankful to have the opportunity to attend The Pensmore National Symposium on Religious Liberty, held recently in southwest Missouri.

The event was held on the campus of the College of the Ozarks ( ) .  This photo shows some of the younger students that attend the Laboratory School, operated by the College of the Ozarks.  They led us in the Pledge of Allegiance, and the singing of the National Anthem.

The keynote speaker for the event was Dr. Ben Carson, retired neurosurgeon and former 2016 Republican Presidential Candidate.  The list of awards he has received in his long and distinguished career would be enough to fill the entire auditorium, but he preferred not to speak on those.  Rather, he urged those present in the auditorium to be engaged in the political process and work to assure that our constitutional freedoms are not undermined. 

Dr. Carson emphasized the importance of Christians studying the platforms of each party, and analyze how these platforms agree, or disagree, with the truth of God's word. 

Considering the impoverished youth, rise to professional acclaim, and incredible list of awards that  Dr. Ben Carson has received, he can be a "visual aid" (only as an imperfect human being on this earth, versus Jesus , our LORD, in heaven) for one of my First Place 4 Health ( ) memory verses that says, "Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love."   (Ephesians 4:2)

This poster was on display in the lobby of the auditorium, and is a reminder to me that I cannot just read and memorize Scripture---I have to APPLY it in my daily life choices.  That means I am to be humble and gentle; I am to bear with one another in love. 

When the Symposium dismissed for lunch, the hundreds of people in attendance headed outside to pick up box lunches,  with a choice of turkey, ham, or gluten-free. 

Chairs and tables (complete with linen tablecloths!) had been set up outside , on the spacious grounds of the College of the Ozarks.  I was reminded of a phrase I used to hear, as someone who was born in the Ozarks and raised here.  We called it "Dinner on the Grounds".  It started years ago, before air conditioning was invented, and was often held after worship services, when everyone in attendance went outside and shared a "covered dish" they had brought from home for the occasion. 

These high school students that attend the C of O Laboratory School, called "School of the Ozarks", may not fully realize how significant are the opportunities they are having to be present when such distinguished speakers come to visit their campus.  That is one reason the laboratory school is described  as a place with experiential learning activities, whose academic programs exceed the state of Missouri's educational requirements.  More information about attending this school is on the main college website, .

After lunch, I was thankful to be able to attend a press conference, held at the Keeter Center, near the entrance to the College of the Ozarks.  I have written about this remarkable facility in other articles that are in the archives of this blog (April 16, 2016 and January 1, 2016). 

The event was opened by Dr. Jerry C. Davis, President of the College of the Ozarks.  His opening statement in the program said, "As we approach the 2016 election, it is essential that every American cast his or her vote.  As Christians, we are obligated to vote.  Voting is an important part of seeing change unfold in America."

The press conference was moderated by one of the professors at the College of the Ozarks.  In addition to Dr. Ben Carson on the panel, there was Texas U. S. Congressman, Louie Gohmert, Jr., and Lt. Gen. (Ret.) William Boykin. 

Members of the media were allowed to randomly ask questions of the three, and not surprisingly, many of the questions were addressed to Dr. Ben Carson, since he had been in the news extensively during the lead-up to the 2016 Presidential election.  He reminded us that Jesus Christ is not running for office, and as such, we are never going to find the "perfect" presidential candidate.  Rather, we are to consider the long-term consequences of our choice of presidents---especially as they relate to the appointment of Supreme Court Judges---and cast our vote accordingly.

I was thankful to get to meet Mrs. Ben Carson, after the press conference.  When I asked her if I could take a photograph of her, she replied, "Only if you will be in it with me."  I was impressed with her graciousness and humility.  She commented on the beauty of the Ozarks, and indicated she was enjoying her visit to this part of the USA.  Mrs. Carson is a successful author and businesswoman, and along with her husband, founded Carson Scholars that provides scholarships to underserved youth with academic excellence.

Mrs. Carson is not the only one impressed with the beauty and hospitality of the Ozarks.  Thousands of tourists come here year-round---many of them drawn by the numerous entertainment venues of Branson, Missouri, which is just across the bridge from where College of the Ozarks is located.  These motorcoaches parked outside the Keeter Center are a common site in this area. 

If  you would like to picture yourself sitting on this porch, enjoying all the amenities of the Keeter Center (which has a gorgeous restaurant, and a boutique hotel recently voted "best in the US by Trip Advisor") , then make plans to visit College of the Ozarks.  It will give you MILES OF SMILES!    Tricia