BROWNWOOD – March 5, 2013 – Several faculty, staff and students from Howard Payne University gathered recently to share with peers their reflections from a trip to Israel. The group returned from the Holy Land in January with more than just suitcases full of souvenirs – they brought back memories to last a lifetime.
Seven of the 23 who journeyed to Israel spoke at the semester’s first installment of the University Colloquium Series, events designed to provide a forum for interdisciplinary conversations among faculty, staff and students with a wide-ranging scope of topics in focus.
“These colloquia, or conversations, allow a broad sense of learning as well as fascinating engagement with other fields of study within the context of a community of scholars and teachers,” said Dr. Danny Brunette-López, chair of the modern languages department and associate professor of Spanish.
Dr. Brunette-López organizes the University Colloquium Series with Dr. Derek Hatch, assistant professor of Christian studies.
Speaking about their trip to Israel were Nancy Anderson, dean of libraries and professor of library science; Dr. Donnie Auvenshine, dean of the School of Christian Studies and professor of Christian studies; Dr. Bill Fowler, assistant professor of Christian studies; Dr. Gary Gramling, director of the youth ministry graduate program and professor of Christian studies; Coby Kestner, director of media relations; Dr. Mitzi Lehrer, assistant professor of education; and Clarissa Toler, a sophomore Bible major from Duncanville.
Dr. Auvenshine and Dr. Gramling have led many HPU trips to Israel.
“We enjoyed the opportunity to share some of the interesting experiences we had during our trip,” Dr. Auvenshine said of the Colloquium event. “I am always fascinated by the different things that impress each one of us. Dr. Gramling and I love to take people to Israel and expose them to biblical history and geography, as well as the contemporary cultures and political circumstances of modern Israel.”
The group toured the country for 11 days, tracing the footsteps of Jesus Christ. Among many other notable sites, the HPU group visited the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, thought to be built over the location where Jesus was born; the Garden of Gethsemane where, according to the Gospels, Jesus and His disciples prayed before He was arrested and crucified; and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Garden Tomb, each thought to be the place where the body of Jesus was placed and where He subsequently was resurrected.
The group also visited sites crucial to Jesus’ ministry including the Sea of Galilee, the Mount of the Beatitudes, Capernaum and Sepphoris.
“This trip has made the Bible more real for me,” said Dr. Fowler. “As I read the Gospels, I go back and visit Jerusalem, Galilee – I get to go back and visit it over and over again. Now when I show pictures in class, I show my own pictures.”
Others on the trip included Allison Auvenshine and Sande Auvenshine of Brownwood; Phillip Bertrand, a December 2012 graduate from Early; Hannah Gramling, a May 2012 graduate from Brownwood; PJ Gramling, director of admission; Dustin MacTavish and Jo Beth MacTavish, alumni from Houston; Cooper Morelock and Scott Morelock of Brownwood; Dr. Frankie Rainey, a former HPU faculty member; David Taylor and Zac Taylor of Corsicana; Amy Fowler-Tennison and Thane Tennison of Round Rock; Edmond Wheeless of Brownwood; and Brandi Wright, senior youth ministry major from Farmington, N.M.
Photo cutlines: While in Israel, the HPU group and their tour guide paused to take a photo at Qumran, the discovery place of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Dr. Donnie Auvenshine, dean of the School of Christian Studies at HPU, discusses a recent trip he led to Israel during the semester’s first installment of the University Colloquium Series.