Judson's 10th World Leaders Forum to celebrate man who inspired 'Chariots of Fire'

Judson University's 10th World Leaders Forum will celebrate the man who inspired the 1981 film “Chariots of Fire.”

Scottish composer James MacMillan and British businessman and parliamentarian Robert Haldane Smith will keynote the North American celebration of the 100th anniversary of Eric Liddell's gold medal in the 400-meter race in the 1924 Paris Olympics.

Liddell, a Scottish sprinter and later a Christian missionary, refused to run in the heats for his best event, the 100-meter dash, because they were held on a Sunday. He instead competed in the 400 on a weekday.

The March 21 event at Judson's Herrick Chapel in Elgin will be held in partnership with the Eric Liddell Community, an Edinburgh care charity and community hub founded in 1980. Judson University President Gene Crume is the North American representative of the organization.

“The Paris Olympics in 2024 will mark 100 years since Eric Liddell captured the world's attention by winning the 400-meter race,” Crume said in an email. “Much like iconic, internationally recognized athletes such as Muhammad Ali, Pelé, and Allyson Felix, Liddell has not only continued to be a source of pride for his country but is still recognized for his many accomplishments after his Olympic achievements.”

Previous World Leaders Forum keynote speakers include former President George W. Bush, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, former Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, former Mexican President Felipe Calderón, Queen Noor of Jordan, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy and, most recently, Ret. Gen, David Petraeus.

A VIP reception will start at 5:30 p.m. with the forum starting at 7 p.m. The conversation, which will feature the two keynote addresses and a question-and-answer session, will be facilitated by Gus Noble, president of the Chicago Scots.

Tickets, which cost $75 or $150 for the forum and $1,000 for the VIP event, are available online at

Proceeds from the event will fund scholarships for Judson's Roeser and RISE Programs, support ongoing operations of the World Leaders Forum, and benefit the Eric Liddell Community.

Robert Haldane Smith
James MacMillan
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