BETHANY, W.Va. – The author of a biography on the founder of Bethany College will return as the keynote speaker at the college’s annual Founder’s Day Convocation on March 3.

Douglas A FosterDouglas A. Foster is a scholar-in-residence at Abilene Christian University, where he was a full-time professor for more than 25 years. His latest book, “A Life of Alexander Campbell,” was published in 2020 and is considered the first critical biography of Campbell.

Campbell was a leader in childhood and adolescent education and championed universal female education. He also was one of the principal founders of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and Bethany College.

Foster spent 10 years studying Campbell and the influences in his life and way of thinking.

Foster will speak at 11 a.m. in Commencement Hall.

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On Founder’s Day in 2021, Foster spoke of how a culture of Christian nationalism, domestic terrorism, and white supremacist racism influenced Campbell’s thinking.

“In Campbell’s day and in ours, these three things were interwoven, forming a web of strands that influence and drive the others,” Foster said.

Foster was general editor for “The Encyclopedia of the Stone-Campbell Movement” (2004) and “The Stone-Campbell Movement: A Global History” (2013). Also in 2013, he published “The Story of Churches of Christ,” which was followed the next year with a video series of the same name.

In 2017, he wrote a chapter on the history of white supremacy and the church in “Thinking Theologically about Mass Incarceration: Biblical Foundations and Justice Imperatives.”

Bethany President Emeritus and Professor of American History D. Duane Cummins will be the respondent during a noon luncheon in Phillips Hall Lounge.

Bethany College holds Founder’s Day annually on the first Thursday of March.

The college received its original charter on March 2, 1840, from the Legislature of Virginia. The West Virginia legislature reaffirmed the charter on June 20, 1863, upon statehood.

Founder’s Day also features a wreath-laying service at Campbell’s grave at God’s Acre Cemetery.
Campbell died March 4, 1866, in Bethany.

Donations on Founder’s Day will benefit either the Bethany Fund or God’s Acre Cemetery, the final resting place of Campbell, many of his family members and past college presidents.


Bethany College, founded in 1840, is the oldest private college in West Virginia. The Bethany experience focuses on academic excellence in liberal arts and prepares students for a lifetime of work and a life of significance.