Congratulations 2017-18 Graduates!
Six Philosophy and Religion Majors graduated over the academic year of 2017-18: Ciara Weaver (December), Kasi Breen, Joella Ford, Logan John, Piper Lizak, and Sara Terry (May). Four of our graduates are going on to Masters Degree studies for the Fall Semester: Kasi to the University of Nebraska--Omaha in Criminology (focusing on the role played by genetics), Logan to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in Religious Studies (concentrating on New Religions), Piper to the Medical School at East Carolina University (specializing in forensic pathology), and Terry to the Master of Divinity Program at Vanderbilt Divinity School. All four of them plan on going on for a Ph.D. or relevant terminal degree in their respective fields of interest.
Articles by two of our recent graduates, Logan John and Piper Liza were published in ReVisions: Best Student Essays at UNCP. Logan's "Animal Sacrifice: Cultural Expression in Myth and Practice appeared in the 2017 edition, while Piper's "The Mythos of the Third Gender: Intersexuality and Transexuality in Mythology" appear in the 2017 edition and her "Turning Doctors into Death's Assistants" appeared in the 2018 edition. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time a student has had multiple research papers appear in ReVisions.
Professor Emeritus Merrill Miller's co-edited volume has been published: Barry S. Crawford and Merrill P. Miller, eds., Redescribing the Gospel of Mark, Early Christianity and Its Literature 22 (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature Press, 2017). Professor Miller has made available a copy in our University Library. This is the third volume that Dr. Miller has edited on redescribing Christian origins and early literature for SBL Press.
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 46 students. Congratulations to Piper Lizak, who was inducted into TAK Spring, 2017, and to Sara Terry, who was inducted into TAK Spring, 2018!
Congratulations to Professor Jeffery Geller who retired after 35 years of dedicated service at UNCP. We wish Professor Geller all the best in his retirement and look forward to seeing him back here every now and then.
We welcome a new Associate Professor of Philosophy in S. Brian Stratton, who has taught in Philosophy and Religious Studies at Alma College in Michigan for the past 18 years! His wife, the Rev. Dr. Carol Gregg, serves as Pastor of the Congregation at Duke University Chapel.
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.