Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 12: No 2) >> Front Matter >> In Memoriam — Dr. A. J. Conyers III

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In Memoriam — Dr. A. J. Conyers III

Scholarship | 2004
Transcription IN MEMORIAM


He may not rest with idiot satisfaction,
Beneath the cank'ring chain, the curse, the clay,
But, longing for a wing of sleepless action,
Soar for the blessed clime, the enduring day.
"Despondency and Yearning," Sabbath Lyrics

This issue of The Simms Review is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Abda
Johnson Conyers III, a life member of the Simms Society, whose contributions to
The Simms Review helped to shed new light on the many ways Simms drew upon
Scripture to fuel his creative imagination.
Born 29 May 1944, Dr. Conyers was a graduate of the University of
Georgia, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (where he earned his M.Div.
in 1971), and the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary where he received his
Ph.D. in 1971. While still the chairman of the religion and philosophy department
at Charleston Southern University where I met him, Chip began cultivating an
interest in the life and works of Simms. This interest led to research and to
writing a well-developed essay on Sabbath Lyrics which explored Simms's
"attempt to restore the public value of biblical rest, so as to rescue the true
meaning of human labor." Chip's essay connects "philosophical preoccupations
that Simms exhibited during the 1840s" to the publication of these verses in a
thought-provoking manner which lifts the collection to a higher level of literary
importance than had been previously acknowledged.
Shortly after 1994 when Chip became a founding faculty member of the
George W. Truett Theological Seminary at Baylor University, he was diagnosed
with leukemia. Yet he continued to teach and to produce both books and articles.
He served on Baylor's Faculty Senate, was named Professor of Choice by Truett
students in 2000, and was honoured with a Baylor University Outstanding Faculty
Award in Teaching for the 2001-2002 academic year. His last contribution to The
Simms Review appeared in 2003 (Vol. 10, No. 2). He said of his contribution,
"This paper attempts to continue an investigation of the religious element in
Simms's thought and especially as this is reflected in his social/literary criticism."
Few scholars have been as qualified as Chip Conyers for such an
investigation. He will long be remembered as one of the first to explore the
Christian elements in Simms's thought, in Simms's prose and poetry, and in
Simms's life. We will miss this man of courage, vision, and purpose whose
generous spirit and gracious nature blessed all who knew him.
In his essay on Simms's Sabbath Lyrics, Chip wrote, "Sabbath is the
Lord's Day, a day of worship, devotion to religious practice, and rest." He quotes
Israel Abrahams, a contemporary of Simms: "The Sabbath points forward to the
Sabbath in another world, a world which is entirely Sabbath." On Sunday 18 July
2004, he entered that world which is entirely Sabbath. He is survived by his wife
Debbie, his children Emily and John, and his grandson Paul.

David Aiken