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eSpire Newsletter
Volume 1, Issue 3 - February 2010

A Faith Journey from Vanderbilt to Australia and Back
Ho Dong Hwang, MDiv3

(From December 3 - 9, 2009, four Vanderbilt Divinity School students were accompanied by Professor John Thatamanil to Melbourne, Australia, to take part in the Parliament of the World's Religions. The Parliament‘s organizers won a grant from the Luce Foundation that was then distributed to a variety of seminaries and divinity schools across the country. This funding made it possible for the Vanderbilt delegation to have rich encounters with religious diversity and bring many lessons back to campus. The following is a presentation prepared and presented by Ho Dong Hwang at January’s community breakfast held on campus to share his experience in Australia.)

I grew up in the evangelical church of Korea where being a Christian is a personal, deliberate decision. Even though many Christians are born and reared in Christian families, many have to explain why they “choose” Christianity rather than Buddhism or atheism which cover over 70 % of the national population. This might be one of the reasons why the majority of the Christians in Korea attend evangelical or conservative churches. Since I was involved in the social movement in Korea, I became more liberal in a socio-political sense, but my religious ideas and faith have remained in my tradition.
(Continue reading A Faith journey - click here)


It’s Ugly, but I am here: Daughter of Haiti’s Story
Meagan Burton-Krieger

On January 12, 2010, as the news started to emerge about the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck the city of Port-a-Prince in the small Caribbean nation of Haiti, the Internet was flooded with search requests for basic information about the country.  Just over an hour and half by plane from Miami, Haiti is home to more than 9 million people. One might wonder why so many within the United States do not know our Haitian neighbors, yet here at Vanderbilt Divinity School you do not have to look far to see the face of Haiti.
(Continue reading Daughter of Haiti - click here)


Hope for Peace: Reflection on a Conversation with Professor C. Melissa Snarr
Reverend Kitty Norton Jones, MDiv'98

“The twentieth century was one of the most violent on record, and new forms of terrorism and warfare continue to define the beginning of the twenty-first century.” –C. Melissa Snarr, assistant professor of ethics and society, Vanderbilt Divinity School

C. Melissa Snarr, assistant professor of ethics and society at Vanderbilt Divinity School, will lead a discussion on religion, war, and reconciliation on March 23, 30, and April 6 in a Relevant Religion Series hosted by Trinity Presbyterian Church. Snarr will discuss the consequences of war, the role of religion and politics, and the rituals and practices we may turn to for peacemaking and reconciliation. Recently, I interviewed Snarr about religion, war, and reconciliation, and she shared these reflections:
(Continue reading Hope for Peace - click here)


A Brief Update on Some of Our December Graduates

Lillian Strahine- Chaplain overseeing the emergency and trauma departments and several other areas of critical care at Vanderbilt University Hospital.  Completing ordination requirements for the United Church of Christ.

Sharon Moore-Caldwell – Continuing her medical practice at Mercy Children’s Clinic in Franklin, TN,  and “working to establish consulting services to help healthcare providers better address and communicate with the whole patient.” 

Regina Proctor- Serving as associate pastor for Belle Meade United Methodist Church, Nashville, TN.

Michael Lehman- Serving as associate pastor at Eastwood Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Nashville, TN, while also working as music coordinator for Vanderbilt Divinity School chapel services and Presbyterian Student Fellowship at Vanderbilt University.  Continues as a freelance percussionist, pianist, and bassist.

S iobhan Sargent –Serving in year-long pastoral internship at Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew, New York, NY


New Student Profile - Melanie C. Jones
Hometown: Chicago, IL
Degree Program at Vanderbilt: master of divinity
College Attended: Howard University
Undergraduate Major: economics and political science

What led you to choose Vanderbilt Divinity School?

Vanderbilt Divinity School would have never been a part of my original life course.  I recognize that my place here is merely an expression of divine assignment. When applying for divinity school, there were a few targets that I saw necessary to consider in order to begin successfully my theological education:
(Continue reading Melanie Jones - click here)


New Student Profile - Seth Terrell
Hometown: Albertville, Alabama
Degree Program at Vanderbilt: master of divinity
College Attended: Freed-Hardeman University
Undergraduate Major: history and Biblical studies

What led you to choose Vanderbilt Divinity School?  
I grew up in rural North Alabama where the blend of southern foothill culture, ideology, and rural life created a structure for my theology.  My father and mother are retired school teachers, and my father is a cattle farmer.  Growing up in the Southern Appalachian foothill culture, I was surrounded by hard working men and women in a genuine and warm environment.  I loved the old folk tales my grandparents had told me of old whiskey stills and ornery cattle. As I grew older, I began to notice other pieces of culture around me.  Two things were in abundance in the area where I was reared: churches and poverty.  I began to wonder how each was related to the other and if either was relevant to the other.  My mother and father had always made it their personal mission to support and build community with those families living in poverty, though much of the religious community did not.
(Continue reading Seth Terrell - click here)


Mid-state Doctor Featured in Documentary
December 15, 2009

NASHVILLE, Tenn.- A mid-state doctor is the subject of a new documentary that followed physicians working for the non-profit group, Doctors Without Borders.

Dr. Thomas Krueger is a general surgeon at Southern Hills Medical Center and was one of four physicians profiled in the movie, "Living in Emergency".
(Continue reading Mid-state Doctor - click here)


Upcoming Events at Vanderbilt Divinity School
Community Breakfast              
March 18, 2010                 
7:30 – 8:30 a.m.
Vanderbilt Divinity School Reading Room
Finding God in New Orleans
Graham Reside, executive director, Cal Turner Program in Moral Leadership for the Professions

This spring, as part of a course on race, religion and poverty in the United States, 20 students from a variety of professional schools here at Vanderbilt journeyed to New Orleans to learn about the intersections of race and poverty in America.  Hurricane Katrina focused our attention on New Orleans, and New Orleans focused our attention in a new way on the dynamics of poverty and race in this country.  At this community breakfast, students and faculty who participated in the class will share what they have learned from this course and this trip.  We will seek to answer for ourselves and for those present: how does New Orleans inform our faith?  What call does it place upon us, as people committed to justice and care in this world?  Come out to see and hear about this transformative experience in the lives of our students.

Relevant Religion Series      
March 23, March 30, and April 6, 2010       
7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
Trinity Presbyterian Church
Religion, War, and Reconciliation
C. Melissa Snarr, assistant professor of ethics and society

The twentieth century was one of the most violent on record, and new forms of terrorism and warfare continue to define the beginning of the twenty-first century. This series will explore the role of religion (specifically Christianity and Islam) in contemporary warfare and peacemaking. We will ask when and if war is religiously justifiable? In what ways does religion contribute to terrorism? What are the practices and possibilities of religiously attuned peacemaking and post-conflict reconciliation?

Antoinette Brown Lecture              
March 25, 2010                      
7:00 p.m.
Benton Chapel
Texts We Love to Hate: Dealing with the Hard Places in Tradition
Judith Plaskow, professor of religious studies, Manhattan College

Benefactor Sylvia Sanders Kelley, BA’54, established this annual lectureship in 1974 to commemorate the life of the first woman in the United States to be ordained to the Christian ministry.  The Antoinette Brown Lecture Series brings to Vanderbilt distinguished female theologians and church leaders who address concerns relating to ministry and the study of religion.

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