Rome, Ga. — Banker and Attorney Barry Hurley and Worship Pastor Cliff Duren will be the featured speakers at Shorter University’s 2021 Commencement ceremonies on Thursday, May 6.
Hurley will speak at the 10 a.m. ceremony, which will include graduates from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, the School of Education, and the School of Fine and Performing Arts. Duren will speak at the 2 p.m. ceremony, which will include graduates from the Ledbetter College of Business and Brady School of Nursing.
Tickets are required for both ceremonies, and the capacity is limited due to Covid-19 protocols. Masks are required for entry, and social distancing is encouraging.
“We are looking forward to celebrating this important milestone in our graduates’ lives and are excited to welcome two great friends of our institution as our featured speakers,” said Shorter University President Dr. Don Dowless. “Both Barry Hurley and Cliff Duren use their talents and abilities to bring honor and glory to the Lord Jesus Christ. Their words will be an encouragement and a blessing to our graduates.”
A 1983 Darlington graduate, Hurley went on to earn a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Finance from the University of Georgia. He is a 1989 UGA law school graduate, where he served as an executive board member of the mock trial program. He is a member of both the Alabama and Georgia Bar Associations.
Hurley currently serves as chairman, legal counsel, CEO and CFO of Southeast First National Bank in Chattooga County, Georgia, and Bay County, Florida. He previously served as chairman, legal counsel and CEO of Adairsville Bancshares and Bank of Adairsville. He was the founder and served as chairman, legal counsel, and CEO of Heritage First Bancshares and chairman and legal counsel of Heritage First Bank.
He is also in the real estate development business with his family and has developed properties such as the IGA Center, the Bi-Lo Center, Burger King, McDonalds, Bojangles, Verizon and Taco Bell. He serves as chairman of the Summerville Downtown Development Authority and is part of the Committee of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency’s Project REACh in Washington, D.C. This project is organized to reduce barriers that prevent full, equal and fair participation in the nation’s economy. He serves on the General Counsel Committee of the D.C.-based American Association of Bank Directors and that group’s Task Force on Director Liability.
Hurley is a former board member and executive committee member of Shorter University and a former member of the Family Enterprise Center at Stetson University. He is a former deacon at First Baptist Church, Summerville and is currently a member at First Baptist Church, Fort Payne, Alabama.
Duren serves as Worship Pastor at First Baptist Church, Woodstock, and is a talented arranger of music. His compositions have earned him numerous Dove Awards. He and his wife, April, are wonderful examples of Shorter graduates who are serving the Lord in dynamic ways.
Duren returned to First Baptist, Woodstock, in 2019 as the head of the church’s music ministry. He also served as FBC Woodstock’s Staff Arranger from 2006 to 2012, leading worship for the contemporary service and playing piano for the blended service with choir and orchestra. From 2012 to 2019, he was Worship Pastor at the Church at Station Hill, a regional campus of Brentwood Baptist Church in Brentwood, Tennessee.
Duren arranges, orchestrates, and produces music resources for various publishers while also producing various artist recordings. He is grateful for the opportunity to fulfill his passion of creating resources for the local church.
Cliff became a Christian at age 17 and soon after pursued a Music Education degree from Shorter University and a Master’s degree in Church Music from Lee University. In 2014, Duren released his first instrumental record, “Tune My Heart: Hymns of Worship Featuring Piano and Orchestra. In 2016, he released a follow-up record, “Tune My Heart: Christmas.”
In March of 2002, Cliff married his college sweetheart, April. The two have been leading worship together since they were students at Shorter. The Durens have four children; Mac, Sydney, Elijah and Emma Kate.
Founded in 1873, Shorter University is a Christ-centered, four-year liberal arts university committed to excellence in education. U.S. News & World Report and The Princeton Review annually include Shorter on their lists of best Southeastern Colleges. The university offers traditional bachelor’s degrees in 40 areas of study, online courses and degree programs, undergraduate programs for working adults, associate’s, and master’s programs. Learn more at www.shorter.edu.