Congratulations August, 2020 Graduates!
Six Philosophy and Religion Majors graduated in August: Caleb Conner, Ariana Farrington, Brittney Fenick, Yshayah Lesane-McCormick, Sr., Ethan Mitchell, and Jonathan Treadaway. Ariana graduated Summa Cum Laude, while Brittney graduated Magna Cum Laude. Yshayah has already started a Master of Divinity program in Military Chaplaincy with Liberty University. Brittney is in the Masters in Social Work program at UNCP. Ariana is in the M.A. in English program at East Carolina University and is teaching at Robeson Community College. Other graduates are planning for graduate or professional study in the future.
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 48 students. Congratulations to Andrew Nemeth, a Philosophy and Religion Major and Jewish and Middle Eastern Studies Minor, who was inducted into TAK this Fall, 2020!
Two of our Majors had papers published in the 2020 issue of ReVisions: Best Student Essays of UNCP. Arianna Farrington's "The Power and Integration of Religion and Culture in The Matrix", an assignment for Religion, Art, and Culture, elucidates how the film draws upon religious themes and myths from Christianity, ancient Greco-Roman religion, Buddhism, and contemporary culture to weave a powerful new myth that addresses societal concerns about technology and artificial intelligence. The Rev. Corey Little's "Call and Response as Cultural Communication in the African-American Church," an assignment for Writing in Philosophy and Religious Studies, draws upon his experience pastoring African-American churches to create an original and stimulating essay. This piece represents Rev. Little's second publication in ReVisions, joining Piper Lizak as a Major with two Revisions publications.
Field Trip to Religious Worship Sites left strong impressions
The Department of Philosophy and Religion at UNC Pembroke had a unique event take place Spring Semester, 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 warmly thank 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.