Darrell Huckaby, who is set to lecture on American history and God's role in the nation, at the Conyers First United Methodist Church over the next several months, displays his Bible and a copy of Alan Brinkley's "The Unfinished Nation: A Concise History of the American People," at his home in Conyers.
It's difficult to pin down Darrell Huckaby -- noted author, syndicated newspaper columnist, humorist and longtime history teacher -- on his favorite historical period.
"For a long time I was really interested in the War Between the States," Huckaby said. "Now I'm very interested in the Civil Rights movement. World War II fascinates me.
"Of course, the American Revolution is particularly pertinent right now because people have lost site of why America stood up to the government and fought a revolution. They were being abused by the government and Thomas Jefferson and the Founding Fathers thought they needed to overthrow it. As someone said, the past is prologue. That's certainly true and pertinent to right now."
Those adults who wish they could sit in on one of the history classes Huckaby teaches at Heritage High School and enjoy his passion for the past can now do so.
Beginning this month, the Conyers First United Methodist Church will offer the community a series of Lunch and Learn Thursdays featuring Huckaby sharing lessons on American history, in particular God's role in the life of the nation.
On the second Thursday of each month, the church will host a simple lunch followed by an informal lecture by Huckaby on a number of topics related to U.S. history.
The series kicks off Aug. 9., with "Our Nation's Beginning: God's Role in American Colonization." The topic for Sept. 13 will be "Our Nation's Creation: Divine Intervention in American Revolution" followed by the Oct. 11 lecture on "Our Nation's Foundation: The U.S. Constitution, A Document Ordained by God?"
This first series concludes with the Nov. 8 and Dec. 13 lectures on "Our Nation Divided: U.S. Sectionalism, Did God Take Sides?" and "Our Nation Torn: One God Two Sides, The War Between the States," respectively.
The Lunch and Learn Thursdays is a new ministry for the church and church outreach ministry staff member Debbie Golden said understanding American history from a biblical viewpoint is "a very timely topic." Golden said an additional Thursday series featuring Dr. Cindy Elrod, a licensed Christian counselor, is being planned.
"Conyers First believes in connecting people with each other and to a deeper faith in God," Golden said. "One way we're doing this is by offering Lunch and Learn Thursdays."
Lunch is available for $5 and will be served from 11:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. with Huckaby's lectures to begin at noon. Each lecture ends at 1 p.m., but Huckaby will stay longer to answer questions.
Huckaby, who is also a member of Conyers First UMC said the upcoming lecture series "was the brainchild" of Golden and himself following a lunch they had together in which Golden asked about the conflict in the Middle East.
Golden's two sons serve in the U.S. Marines, and she told Huckaby she wanted a better understanding about the conflict, considering there is a potential her sons could be deployed.
"She knew I was a history teacher and had studied the situation," Huckaby said. "I gave her a little history on the Middle East and our involvement. I have talked to so many people who said they didn't like history when they were in school, but now they have a great interest in it.
"Debbie said she enjoyed talking with me over lunch and thought there might be a lot of people who like to talk about American history, particularly the role God has played in our history and the Founding Fathers' belief in God."
Huckaby said the series will progress in a chronological order beginning with the nation's founding and is open to everyone in the community who has an interest in history. He said he often has people tell him they would like to come sit in on one of his history classes.
"I've always enjoyed telling stories and my father was a great storyteller," Huckaby said.
"American history is simply the story of our nation. I just like trying to make those events come alive and interesting. I have an easy time engaging my students. I try to make it enjoyable for them. Most everybody likes a good story. I try not to make it about a lot of dates. History is of made up of ordinary people who did extraordinary things."
A native of Porterdale in Newton County, Huckaby now lives in Conyers with his wife Lisa and their three children, Jamie, Jackson and Jenna. He teaches advanced placement U.S. History and current issues at Heritage High school, where he has taught for 15 years. Huckaby has been a classroom teacher for 39 years.
He has written more than half a dozen books, including "Southern Is As Southern Does," "Grits Is Groceries" and "Dinner on the Grounds."
Huckaby said he might someday write a book on history, but right now he said he is "three books behind." He is working on a book due out this fall on his battle with cancer.
Huckaby's syndicated newspaper columns appear in papers across the state, including in the Citizen, and his "What the Huck?" commentary can be heard on the Moby in the Morning radio show Wednesday mornings at 7:35.A graduate of the University of Georgia, "Huck," as he is often called, travels across the South speaking to church and civic organizations and corporate functions.
For more information on Lunch and Learn Thursdays, call Conyers First United Methodist Church at 770-483-4236.
Beth Sexton is a freelance writer based in Snellville. If you have a story idea, contact Karen Rohr, features editor, at firstname.lastname@example.org.