News Archives: School of Christian Studies

HPU hosts BGCT’s Super Summer camp for Texas youth

super summer 2015 for webBROWNWOOD – July 21, 2015 – Howard Payne University recently hosted the Baptist General Convention of Texas’ Super Summer camp, a weeklong event designed to foster leadership skills in young Christians. In addition to hundreds of Texas youth, approximately 65 HPU alumni, students, faculty and staff members participated in the camp.

Youth ministers from churches across the state – 18 of them HPU alumni or graduate students – brought students to the camp. Additional Super Summer camps are hosted by other Texas Baptist universities throughout the summer.

At least nine of the young people who attended HPU’s Super Summer will start classes at the university in the fall.

Camp youth are divided into schools, designated by colors, based on their ages. This year, HPU was one of only two universities to also include a Purple School, which provides preparation for students who feel called to vocational Christian ministry. Dr. Rusty Wheelington, associate professor of Christian studies at HPU, served as dean of the Purple School.

“Spending a week with some of the best youth ministers and students across the state is always encouraging and a blessing,” said Dr. Wheelington. “This year we even had one student from Haiti. Super Summer is a week of intense teaching and training to help students become more effective leaders, disciples and sharers of the Gospel in their schools, communities and homes.”

According to Dr. Gary Gramling ’81, professor of Christian studies and director of HPU’s Christian studies graduate programs, other students also recognized God calling them to ministry throughout the week.

“I met two students who were not a part of Purple School who sensed during the week that God is calling them to vocational Christian ministry,” he said. “What a privilege for HPU to host such a week where God is at work in the hearts of so many students. I can’t imagine anything that would bring greater joy to the hearts of those who founded our university than to know the campus is being used for such events.”

Chuck Gartman ’72, adjunct instructor in HPU’s School of Christian Studies and minister of education/leadership development at Field Street Baptist Church in Cleburne, served as dean of Super Summer’s Leadership Forum at HPU.

“Howard Payne’s Leadership Forum at Super Summer continues to be a breath of fresh air for me personally as I facilitate this process,” he said. “Leaders have the opportunity to hear from some of our state’s best youth leaders and are also able to express concerns or sources of praise in their own settings. I’m privileged to be a part of this great opportunity for youth leaders around our state.”

Natalie Stary ’03, HPU admission counselor, coordinated HPU’s camp this year.

“Super Summer has had a huge impact on Baptist students for more than 40 years,” she said. “Super Summer at HPU will always be special to me because I attended as a student 19 years ago.”

It was during that time, Stary said, she felt called to ministry and to become a student at HPU.

“I feel very honored to get to now serve in a leadership role with the planning and implementation of Super Summer at Howard Payne,” she said. “The Lord continues to use Super Summer and HPU to train up future generations of Texas Baptists for His service locally and around the world.”

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Photo cutline: Super Summer campers gather near HPU’s Old Main Tower.

Six HPU students recognized for servant leadership

By Chandler Condra, HPU senior

BROWNWOOD – May 18, 2015 – Howard Payne University recently honored six students for their display of servant leadership on campus and in the community. Students were recognized for their service and received awards during the university’s annual Servant Leadership Program.

nat tracy awards 2015 for webThe Nat Tracy Servant Leader Award was presented to Christopher Burnett, a senior music-instrumental major from Early, and Paula Johnson, a senior social work major from Spring. The award was established in 1998 to honor the life of the late Dr. Nat Tracy, a member of HPU’s Bible faculty from 1950 to 1975.

HPU Servant Leadership Award recipients included Shaefer Church, a junior Bible major from Bloomfield, N.M.; Victoria Hardin, a senior psychology major from Bangs; Brogan Turner, a senior psychology major from Brownwood; and Courtney Turner, a junior communication major from Bastrop.

A $1,000 scholarship is provided to each recipient of the Servant Leadership Award and each student designates $250 of the scholarship award to be given to his or her chosen charity. This award, established in 2007 by the Moore Foundation and Barney II Foundation, recognizes student excellence in the areas of leadership and service.

servant leader awards 2015 for web“These students embody the servant leadership qualities demonstrated to us by Jesus Christ,” said Dr. Donnie Auvenshine, professor of Christian studies and dean of the School of Christian Studies. “It is our pleasure to give attention to those students who have faithfully and humbly served others with no desire for recognition.”

Nominations for both awards were made during the spring semester by HPU faculty, staff and students. Awards were presented by Dr. Auvenshine and Dr. Bill Ellis, HPU president.

“Many institutions recognize outstanding leadership qualities, but it is rare to reward those who lead through acts of service to others,” said Dr. Auvenshine. “It is our privilege to encourage these students and others to continue serving mankind.”

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Photo cutlines: Six HPU students were recently honored for their display of servant leadership on campus and in the community.

Recipients of the Nat Tracy Servant Leader Award include Christopher Burnett, left, and Paula Johnson.

Recipients of the HPU Servant Leadership Award include, from left, Victoria Hardin, Shaefer Church, Brogan Turner and Courtney Turner.

HPU’s Currie-Strickland lectures warn of “segregated Christianity”

Dr Willie James Jennings for webBROWNWOOD – February 19, 2015 – “Our witness as Christians is not to change others, but to change ourselves and, in so doing, invite others to do the same,” said the Reverend Dr. Willie James Jennings, guest speaker at Howard Payne University’s eighth annual Currie-Strickland Distinguished Lectures in Christian Ethics held recently on campus. “We became disciples by learning and we can make disciples by learning as well.”

Dr. Jennings, associate professor of theology and black church studies at Duke University Divinity School, spoke on “Being Christian in Racial America.”

When asked by a student why he chose to devote his studies to that topic, Dr. Jennings responded that he has always been intrigued by “segregated Christianity.”

“We sing the same hymns, say the same prayers and read the same Bible,” said Dr. Jennings, referring to Christians of various races. “Yet, in some instances, we feel as though we can’t be in the same room together.”

Dr. Donnie Auvenshine, dean of HPU’s School of Christian Studies and professor of Christian studies, said Dr. Jennings’ lectures were a great reminder to Christians of all races and backgrounds.

“Dr. Jennings’ lectures were quite thought-provoking,” he said. “Many of us will continue to reflect on his association of imperialistic ideals and agendas and ownership and control of land with racial prejudices. In relating to people of various races, we who profess a relationship with Christ need to act like our Lord acted.”

currie strickland scholars 2015 for webDuring the lectures, four HPU seniors were recognized as Currie-Strickland Scholars in Christian Ethics and Theology. Receiving the award were Samuel Marich-Edwan of Arlington, Jessi Jordan of Spurger, Paul Warren of Salado and Kelsan Wolverton of Lampasas.

“These students have excelled in their work in Christian studies and we’re proud to honor them for their achievements,” said Dr. Derek Hatch, assistant professor of Christian studies.

The Currie-Strickland lecture series is made possible through the generosity of Dr. and Mrs. Gary Elliston and was established to honor the life of Dr. David R. Currie, retired executive director of Texas Baptists Committed, and the memory of Phil Strickland, who dedicated nearly 40 years of ministry to the Baptist General Convention of Texas’ Christian Life Commission.

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Photo cutlines: The Reverend Dr. Willie James Jennings discusses “Being Christian in Racial America” during HPU’s eighth annual Currie-Strickland Distinguished Lectures in Christian Ethics.

Four HPU students were recognized as Currie-Strickland Scholars in Christian Ethics and Theology. Left to right: Kelsan Wolverton, Samuel Marich-Edwan, Jessi Jordan, Paul Warren and Dr. Donnie Auvenshine, dean of HPU’s School of Christian Studies and professor of Christian studies.

HPU youth ministry conference to address “The Elephants in the Room”

Perspective rectangle logoBROWNWOOD – February 16, 2015 – Howard Payne University will host its annual Perspectives on Youth Ministry Conference tomorrow and Wednesday, February 17 and 18. The conference is open to all youth ministry personnel at a cost of $45, which includes five conferences, round-table discussions, one dinner and one breakfast. The cost for students is $25.

Themed “The Elephants in the Room,” the conference will address some of the most difficult and least discussed issues in youth ministry including pornography, incarcerated youth, abuse and teenage sexuality/identity. Additional topics include opportunities for progress such as women in ministry and the growing Hispanic population.

“While they present new challenges, churches need to be prepared to minister to students who are dealing with these types of issues,” said Dr. Gary Gramling, professor of Christian studies and director of HPU’s Christian studies graduate programs. “We’ve gathered insightful speakers who will offer fresh approaches to these topics.”

Guest speakers include Pamela Culbertson, veteran youth minister from Dallas; Dan Humeniuk, assistant professor of social work and chair of HPU’s Department of Criminal Justice, Social Work and Sociology; Lynn Humeniuk, associate professor of criminal justice and sociology and director of HPU’s criminal justice program; Paul Irby, therapist at Ministry of Counseling and Enrichment in Abilene; Dr. Allen Jackson, professor of youth education and collegiate ministry at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary; Dr. Jimmy Myers, adolescent counselor at The Timothy Center in Austin; Dr. Gus Reyes, director of the Christian Life Commission of the Baptist General Convention of Texas; and Marisha Tyler, marriage and family therapist in Lubbock.

A complete schedule of events, registration information and more details are available at www.hputx.edu/perspectives. Event organizers may be reached at (325) 649-8039 or via e-mail at lbledsoe@hputx.edu.

HPU Currie-Strickland lectures to address Christianity, race in America

jennings for webBROWNWOOD – January 16, 2015 – “Being Christian in Racial America” is the topic for Howard Payne University’s upcoming eighth annual Currie-Strickland Distinguished Lectures in Christian Ethics. The lectures will take place Thursday, February 12, and Friday, February 13, and are free to the public.

The Reverend Dr. Willie James Jennings, associate professor of theology and black church studies at Duke University Divinity School, will serve as this year’s guest speaker.

Thursday’s lecture, titled “The Risk of Being Christian in Racial America: Part One,” will begin at 7:30 p.m. Dr. Jennings will deliver part two of the lecture on Friday beginning at 10 a.m. Both discussions will be held in the Richard and Wanda Jackson Conference Room of HPU’s Paul and Jane Meyer Faith and Life Leadership Center.

Dr. Donnie Auvenshine, dean of HPU’s School of Christian Studies and professor of Christian studies, emphasized the timeliness of Dr. Jennings’ lectures.

“As recent events have so poignantly demonstrated, race relations continues to be a serious issue in America,” said Dr. Auvenshine. “It is essential that Christians learn to work together to improve relations among the people of our country and our world, because all people are created by God and deeply loved by Him.”

Born and raised in Grand Rapids, Mich., Dr. Jennings received his Bachelor of Arts degree in religion and theological studies from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, his Master of Divinity degree from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif.; and his Doctor of Philosophy degree from Duke University in Durham, N.C. Dr. Jennings, a systematic theologian, teaches in the areas of theology, black church and cultural studies, as well as post-colonial and race theory.

The author of numerous articles, Dr. Jennings’s recent work, The Christian Imagination: Theology and the Origins of Race, published by Yale University Press, won the 2011 American Academy of Religion award for best book and is now becoming a standard text read in colleges, seminaries and universities. Dr. Jennings is also the recipient of the 2014 Grawemeyer Award in Religion for his groundbreaking work on race and Christianity.

In addition to being a frequent lecturer at colleges, universities and seminaries, Dr. Jennings is also a regular workshop leader at pastor conferences. He is a consultant for the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion, and for the Association of Theological Schools.

He serves along with his wife, the Reverend Joanne L. Browne Jennings, as an associate minister at the Mount Level Baptist Church in Durham, N.C. For many years, Dr. Jennings and Rev. Joanne Jennings served as interim pastors for several Presbyterian and Baptist churches in North Carolina. The Jennings have two daughters, Njeri and Safiya.

The Currie-Strickland lecture series is made possible through the generosity of Dr. and Mrs. Gary Elliston and was established to honor the life of Dr. David R. Currie, retired executive director of Texas Baptists Committed, and the memory of Phil Strickland, who dedicated nearly 40 years of ministry to the Baptist General Convention of Texas’ Christian Life Commission.

Admission is free but reservations are requested. For reservations or more information, please contact Howard Payne University’s School of Christian Studies by e-mail at currie-strickland@hputx.edu or by phone at (325) 649-8403.

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Photo cutline: The Reverend Dr. Willie James Jennings will address the topic “Being Christian in Racial America” during HPU’s eighth annual Currie-Strickland lectures.

HPU to host Christian studies lecturer Kim Williams Bodenhamer

Kim Williams BodenhamerBROWNWOOD – November 13, 2014 – Howard Payne University’s School of Christian Studies will host guest lecturer Kim Williams Bodenhamer, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Religion at Baylor University, next Tuesday, November 18, at 7:30 p.m. The lecture, which is free and open to the public, will be held in the Richard and Wanda Jackson Conference Room of HPU’s Paul and Jane Meyer Faith and Life Leadership Center.

Bodenhamer’s lecture is titled “The Image of God in the Old Testament.” Originally from Comanche, she graduated from Hardin-Simmons University in 2008 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in biblical studies and a minor in biblical languages.

During her time at HSU, she spent a semester studying Greek and the synoptic Gospels at Oxford University. She went on to earn a Master of Theological Studies degree from Duke Divinity School in 2010.

Bodenhamer has worked toward her doctoral degree at Baylor University since 2010 with a focus on Hebrew Bible. She has presented numerous papers at scholarly conferences and is active in Baptist life, including the group Baptist Women in Ministry.

“We’re pleased to welcome Kim Williams Bodenhamer and offer our students and the community the opportunity to hear her views of the way God is presented in the Old Testament,” said Dr. Derek Hatch, assistant professor of Christian studies.

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Photo cutline: Kim Williams Bodenhamer will discuss “The Image of God in the Old Testament.”

HPU to host Raquel Contreras of Baptist World Alliance

BROWNWOOD – October 31, 2014 – Howard Payne University welcomes the community to campus next week as guest speaker Raquel Contreras tells stories and imparts knowledge from experiences gained as president of the women’s department of the Baptist World Alliance and as general director of Editorial Mundo Hispano in El Paso.

There are three opportunities to hear Contreras speak. On Tuesday, November 4, at 7 p.m., she will host a discussion titled “Women of the World” in the Jackson Room of HPU’s Faith and Life Leadership Center. The audience will hear stories of Baptist women from around the world and pray together for them.

Contreras will also be the featured speaker at HPU’s weekly Chapel service at 10 a.m. on Wednesday morning at the university’s Mims Auditorium. Later that morning, at 11:30 a.m., she will discuss her experiences in Chile and across Latin America. The final discussion will also be held in the Jackson Room.

“We’re so excited to host Raquel Contreras on campus as she shares stories that can only be gained from firsthand experience,” said Dr. Melody Maxwell, assistant professor of Christian studies. “This is a great opportunity for our students and for the community as well. We hope many people make plans to attend.”

HPU assistant professor publishes books on women in missions

Melody Maxwell books for webBROWNWOOD – July 22, 2014 – Dr. Melody Maxwell, assistant professor of Christian studies at Howard Payne University, recently published two books analyzing the role of women in missions and church leadership.

Dr. Maxwell’s most recent work, “The Woman I Am: Southern Baptist Women’s Writings, 1906-2006,” references Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) publications and traces developing thought patterns regarding the role of women in missions and church leadership throughout the 20th century. The book was published by University of Alabama Press in early July.

Released in April, Dr. Maxwell’s first book, “Torches in the Corridor: 125 Years of Tennessee Woman’s Missionary Union,” is an expansion of a thesis she published as an undergraduate student at Union University in Jackson, Tenn. The book features historical profiles of leaders within Tennessee WMU. Dr. Maxwell had the opportunity to premiere her work at the group’s annual meeting in April.

“It is fascinating to look at the ways that changing American culture has affected Southern Baptist women’s roles,” she said. “Over the past century, Baptist women have advocated and filled positions from missionary homemaker to ordained pastor. My books explore these changes and how they were received by Southern Baptists, both women and men.”

Maxwell also has firsthand experience with her subject matter.

“I grew up in Tennessee, where I met leaders in WMU who helped shape my vocation and my life,” she said. “I also served on the national WMU staff, where I observed trends among Baptist women in the 21st century.”

“The Woman I Am” is available for purchase on Amazon and directly through the publisher at http://www.uapress.ua.edu/. “Torches in the Corridor” is available for purchase from Tennessee WMU by calling (615) 371-2038.

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Photo cutline: Dr. Melody Maxwell, assistant professor of Christian studies at HPU, recently published two books on the role of women in missions and church leadership.

HPU faculty member publishes book on worship and the Baptist faith

Hatch with book for webBROWNWOOD – June 20, 2014 – Dr. Derek Hatch, assistant professor of Christian studies at Howard Payne University, recently co-edited “Gathering Together: Baptists at Work in Worship,” a collection of essays examining how worship shapes the Baptist faith.

Penned by pastors and scholars from across the United States, the essays take a close look at the act of liturgy or corporate worship. According to Dr. Hatch, a reoccurring metaphor throughout the book views worship as a “seamless garment.”

“Baptists often think of worship as comprised of individual acts such as sermons, music, greeting periods and a time of invitation,” he said. “But ‘Gathering Together’ seeks to examine how each act reinforces the others and serves to strengthen church communities.”

Dr. Hatch stated that the purpose of the book is not to promote or emphasize one style of worship over another, but rather to encourage intentional and theological reflection on these acts by ministers and churchgoers.

“Regardless of style, we want Baptists to think intentionally about worship and to constantly move toward a ‘seamless garment,’” he said.

“Gathering Together” is co-edited by Rodney Wallace Kennedy, lead pastor of First Baptist Church in Dayton, Ohio. It is available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and directly from the publisher at www.wipfandstock.com.

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Photo cutline: Dr. Derek Hatch, assistant professor of Christian studies at HPU, discusses his new book, “Gathering Together: Baptists at Work in Worship,” at a recent book-signing event on campus.

HPU group travels to Slovakia for cross-cultural mission trip

HPU Slovakia group for webBROWNWOOD – June 13, 2014 – Dr. Melody Maxwell, assistant professor of Christian studies at Howard Payne University, and five students from her spring International Missions Practicum course recently traveled to Važec, Slovakia, for a week-long mission experience. The course is designed to give students firsthand experience in cross-cultural service.

The group led ministry activities among the Roma and Slovak people and learned from the missiology of Shane and Dianne McNary, the field personnel with whom they served.

“We spent the semester at HPU learning about the history and culture of the Roma, a minority group in Europe that is often mistreated, and were grateful to get to serve among the Roma in Slovakia and learn from the McNarys’ long-term ministry there,” Dr. Maxwell said.

Ministry activities included teaching English in a local school, leading a daily kids club and planning various evening activities. According to Dr. Maxwell, she and the students prepared both academically and spiritually for the trip.

“We studied best practices in short-term missions and prepared for the specific activities we would lead during our trip,” she said. “Among other assignments, students kept journals while in Slovakia and submitted a reflection paper after we returned. All of these activities helped class members grow academically as well as personally through the trip. It was exciting to see students grow in their cross-cultural leadership abilities as we served together.”

The reflection papers reveal the students’ improved knowledge of international missions.

“The biggest thing I feel I can take as a challenge from this trip is that I need to really try to love everyone as God loves everyone,” wrote Mackenzie Gill, a junior from Brownwood.

Sean Locker, a senior from North Richland Hills, wrote, “From this trip I’ve been better able to understand the importance of reading and experiencing different cultures and how it all pertains to global missions. Now that I’ve seen and experienced so much with my own senses I want to study about the world and its affairs all the more.”

In addition to Gill and Locker, students on the trip included Faye Lasserre, senior from Brownwood; Rachel Runnels, senior from Paradise; and Jack Wells, senior from Terrell.

According to Dr. Maxwell, cross-cultural experiences remind students and faculty alike that God’s kingdom is much bigger than HPU, Texas and the United States.

“Experiences like this allow us to participate in the work that God is doing around the world,” she said. “What a privilege!”

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Photo cutline: A group from HPU stands with missionary Dianne McNary in Važec, Slovakia. From left: Jack Wells, Sean Locker, Mackenzie Gill, Dianne McNary, Dr. Melody Maxwell and Faye Lasserre.