News and Events

Field Trip to Religious Worship Sites left strong impressions

The Department of Philosophy and Religion at UNC Pembroke had a unique event taking place recently: in March 31, 2017, about forty students and four faculty members went together on a field trip to visit places of worship in Fayetteville NC. Dr. David Nikkel, the chair of the department, explained that our department wanted to give our majors, minors, and students taking courses in Religion a direct experience of religious practice through visiting worship sites and services. “It’s good to read and hear about religions and to watch videos. But it takes things to another level to view in person a religious site, to directly experience a religious ceremony, and to ask questions of religious believers and leaders, and our students did ask a lot of questions.” said Dr. Nikkel.

Our first stop was at Masjid Omar Ibn Sayyid, a mosque that serves mostly African-American Muslims in the Fayetteville area. We came to attend the Jumu’ah, the congregational Friday prayer, and we had the opportunity to speak with Imam Bobby Ahmed, the spiritual leader, who spoke about the Islamic value of civility.

From there we continued the Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church, where we were welcomed by Father Alexander, who spoke about the history of the Greek Orthodox Church and explained about the meanings of the beautiful icons on the walls of the church.

After a short stop for dinner, we visited the Hindu Bhavan Temple. During a short conversation with two members of the congregation, we learned about the inclusive values of Hinduism. Later we attended a Puja, a ritual service, where faculty and students were offered the opportunity to give offerings to the Hindu Gods.

We ended up at Jewish Beth Israel Congregation to participate in Kabalat Shabbat. Friday evening services are welcoming the Sabbath, the Jewish day of rest, and we had the opportunity to join in prayer with the community. At the entrance to the synagogue, we all put Kippot on our heads, in respect of place, as you can see in the pictures.

Logan John, who majors in Philosophy and Religion, said that “my experiences with Jewish songs, Islamic Sallah, Hindu Puja, and Greek Orthodox iconography left me wanting to do more field work. I hope this is an experience the Philosophy and Religion Department is able to provide for years to come.” Kasi Mae Breon, another major of the department, observed that the field trip was enjoyable and educational. “It was a calming experience that will not be forgotten. Overall, I felt that the leaders from each worship site gave a message about offering inclusiveness to other faiths, which I feel is an important issue for our society today,” she said.

On behalf of the faculty of the Department of Philosophy and Religion, we wish to thank warmly the office of the Dean of Arts and Science, the Office of Student Involvement and Leadership and the Friends of the Library who helped cover the costs of the trip.



An article by one of our December, 2015, graduates, Alex Cole Foster, entitled, \"On the Intrinsic Religous Potential of Abstract Expressionism\" (written for the course Religion, Art, and Culture), was published in the 2016 edition of ReVisions: Best Student Essays at UNCP.

Professor Motti Inbari's third book, Jewish Radical Ultra Orthodoxy Confronts Modernity, Zionism and Women's Equality, was published by Cambridge University Press. Cambridge Unversity Press also published his second book. Click here for a citation of Dr. Inbari's book.

Professor Sharon Mattila's article, “Capernaum, Village of Nahum, from Hellenistic to Byzantine Times,” was published in Galilee in the Late Second Temple and Mishnaic Periods: Volume 2: The Archaeological Record from Galilean Cities, Towns, and Villages, by Fortress Press, a presitious publisher in Religious Studies. A previous article by Professor Mattila was published in Volume 1 of the same work.

Professor Ray Sutherland’s article, “I Samuel 17 as Paradigm for Militia Operations in Ancient Israel,” was published in the International Journal of Philosophy and Theology.

Professor David Nikkel's article, “The Dualistic, Discarnate Picture That Haunts the Cognitive Science of Religion,” was published in Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science, the leading journal in the field of Religion and Science.


The Department sponsors the UNCP Chapter of Theta Alpha Kappa--The National Honor Society for Religious Studies/Theology for qualified students. It is open to any student taking four or more courses in Religion and achieving a high Grade Point Average, not just to those majoring or minoring in Religion. Since its founding in 2005, our Chapter has inducted 40 students. Congratualations to Logan John, who was inducted into TAK Spring, 2016 and to Kasi Breen and Jonathan Martin, who were inducted this past Fall Semester!