How We “Live the Legacy”

Living the Legacy at the C.S. Lewis Study Centre at The Kilns

Debbie Higgens & David Payne at The KilnsAt The Kilns, Lewis’s beloved home in Oxford, “Living the Legacy”means offering much more than a museum dedicated to Lewis’ memory.

While we provide guided tours for well over 1,500 visitors from around the world annually, our main purpose at the Centre is hosting year round Scholars in Residence and annual Summer Seminars.

Our scholars come from a variety of countries, backgrounds, and fields of study, but they all have one thing in common – they value the experience of living in a small, intentional Christian community while working on their academic or artistic projects. They live, eat, study, and fellowship in Lewis’ former home while also accessing the rich resources of Oxford and its university.

Here is the testimony of one recent Summer Seminar scholar:

 Fall 2012 Scholars in residence at The Kilns“It was truly magical – I felt as if we had travelled into the wardrobe to another world. Thank you for preserving the legacy of a mere mortal who loved God so totally. Thank you, too, for always pointing beyond Mr. Lewis to the Trinity. CSL was never worshipped – Thank goodness, but was adored – always after the Father, Son and Holy Spirit – Rightly so.”

Come 2013, as part of a series of events we are holding to celebrate the living legacy of Lewis, we will be hosting 2 weeks of Summer Seminars led by Dr. Earl Palmer and will offer an historic guided tour of Northern Ireland and England, retracing the life of Lewis.


Living the Legacy Through our Programs and Events

Os Guinness & Ken Blanchard at 2011 C.S. Lewis Summer InstituteEach year, we host events, both nationally and internationally, that are designed to engage the mind, stimulate the imagination, and encourage the spirit.

Long considered one of the cores of our ministry, these events are attended by people from all walks of life. Our goal in each program is to equip each person to return to their worlds to serve as constructive catalysts for change.

We do this by creating and facilitating an environment of learning, worship, fellowship, and the arts, where conferees participate in challenging and rich discussions of the important issues of our time.

Attendees at the 2012 C.S. Lewis RetreatThe results are both personal and professional. Personally, many attendees experience rich fellowship, support, and healing and leave with a greater sense of purpose and knowledge.

Professionally, many of those attending are inspired to undertake new projects, such as writing books, teaching new courses, taking new directions in their widely varied careers, creating new art, or launching new ministries.

Here is but one testimony from Martha Linder, a repeat registrant of our Oxbridge Summer Institutes:

Ad Deum Dancers at The C.S. Lewis Retreat“As I told you in Washington at the National Prayer Breakfast, so many of us were there becasue of you and your mammoth task in creating and sustaining the Foundation for, lo, these many years and for connecting so many parts of the Body.

“You are owed a great debt by so many for so much, and I think that the greatest thing that I can say is that because of Oxbridge, my love of, awe of, and relationship with the Lord has grown enormously and tremendously, and I wonder if I’d be where I am in my faith were it not for the privilege of attending Oxbridge for so many years. The worth of it has been incalculable in my life.”

 In 2013, we will be hosting two such events celebrating 50 years of Lewis’s enduring legacy – a 3 day conference in San Diego in June and a 3 day conference in Houston in November.

And coming up in 2014, is the C.S. Lewis Summer Institute (“Oxbridge”) in England in July.

Living the Legacy at the Future C.S. Lewis College

C.S. Lewis CollegeOur vision for C.S. Lewis College is to prepare students who not only possess the necessary skills to thrive in their chosen professions, but who also, more importantly, are inspired and dedicated to serve others as informed followers of Jesus Christ.

Essentially, this means grounding our students in a vigorous educational experience very similar to C.S. Lewis’s – a thorough and well rounded education in the Great Books, combined with deep exposure to leading Christian thinkers and the world of the visual and performing arts.

Graduates of C.S. Lewis College will be premier thinkers, writers, communicators, creators, and leaders with a strong foundation of faith and the ability to vigorously but graciously engage others with contrary points of view.

In a letter addressed to me not long before his passing, Chuck Colson, responding to our invitation to serve as a Charter Member of our Founders Board, observed:

 “I’ve received your letter about C.S. Lewis College, which I think is a wonderful undertaking and could really have a worldwide ministry.

“As I told you before, I’ve not gone on any of the advisory committees or honorary boards requested of me; my board has always thought that was unwise. In your case, because of what you are doing and the incredible role that C.S. Lewis played in my life, I’m making an exception, so you can count me in.

“I can tell you that as one of the alumni of the Ivy League, Brown University, I would recommend that anybody interested in a real education today go to a great books school. Knowing how you work, and what your plans are for this College, I think it would be at the top of my recommended list.”

Work on the founding of C.S. Lewis College has advanced, notwithstanding the challenges of qualifying ourselves to receive the gift of the Northfield campus from the Green family of Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.

C.S. Lewis CollegeWhether in Northfield or elsewhere (and we continue to pray and believe that we are Northfield bound), our comprehensive 500 page curriculum, Founders Covenant, governing documents, and financial plan are completed and ready to go!

Encouraged by our Distinguished Fellows and scholars and leaders from across the country and abroad, we have every reason to take heart.

So much so that we will begin a 50th Anniversary Campaign this coming year to raise the financial support needed to honor C.S. Lewis in the United States by naming its first “Mere Christian” Great Books college after him. May it please God!