Religion & Philosophy
Religion & Philosophy Students
Students Talk About Religion and Philosophy at MHC
I recently heard Dr. John Claypool, a graduate of Mars Hill College, give the commencement address at McAfee School of Theology. He shared a story of serving as pastor in a rural Tennessee town. One December afternoon, he decided to mail some Christmas packages and so he made his way to the Post Office. As he stood in line with what seemed to be the entire town, a man in overalls walked through the door. His overalls were caked in flour—remnants of a hard days work at the local mill. Whenever this man moved, big clumps of flour would fall to the floor. By the time he left the Post Office that day, he had left his mark, a mark that journeyed from the door to the Post Master’s window and even to the hands and shirt-sleeves of those he touched along the way. This heart-warming story best captures what I received from studying Religion and Philosophy at MHC. The faculty left their mark upon my journey and in doing so taught me the importance of doing the same.
Wherever you are in your journey at MHC, it is my hope that when you graduate you will be able to see their marks upon your journey as well.
B.A. English (MHC, 2001)
Princeton Theological Seminary (Princeton, NJ), Sept. 2002-Feb. 2003;
McAfee School of Theology at Mercer University (Atlanta, GA), 2004-to Present
"Being back on campus recently brings back the fond memories I have of my time there. Having received degrees from Fruitland, Mars Hill, and now attending the M. Christopher White School of Divinity at Gardner-Webb, I am reminded of a saying I recently heard. ‘The difference between indoctrination and education is that indoctrination teaches you WHAT to think, and an education teaches you HOW to think.’ My fourteen and one half years of military service as well as my being an ordained Baptist Minister have shown me and given me an appreciation for the discipline of critical thinking! Thank you and your colleagues for all your unselfish service to the students at Mars Hill to ensure that they receive an education and not an indoctrination! Mars Hill College is definitely ’Holy Ground’ for me. As one of Mars Hill’s professors (Jinx) used to say, ‘The student is Sacred in Mind and Body.’"
Rev. J. Roy Moritz
Access Class of 1999
"The Religion/Philosophy classes that I took as a MHC student were very inspiring. The Women and Religion class opened my eyes to incredible women within Biblical history that are rarely mentioned in everyday Christian life. Reading these women’s stories challenged me and gave me courage. Another religion class about Judaism and Christianity gave me new insight into the life and role of the Jews at the time of Jesus’ death. Our class participated in worship service at a synagogue, which helped me make strong connections between what I was learning in the classroom to the worship traditions of the Jewish faith."
Cindy Frost, B.S. Business Administration, MHC ’04
Coordinator, Bonner Scholar Program
LifeWorks Learning Partnership
Mars Hill College
"At Mars Hill, I found a passion for the study of Religion that I didn’t know I had. I discovered a deep and abiding love for ancient texts, modern interpretations, and big questions that I suspect will be with me the rest of my life. My experience with the Religion and Philosophy Department at Mars Hill was one of a nurturing, caring, and ultimately intellectually demanding community of friends."
Rev. Eric C. Smith (Christian Church, Disciples of Christ)
Mars Hill College class of 2000
Vanderbilt University Divinity School class of 2002
"One of the best things that courses in Religion & Philosophy has given to me is the knowledge that I do have a story to tell, that my story is important, and that I have the power to tell my story. . . . My plans to simply get a degree, get a job, and live my life without thinking twice have necessarily changed. Through my MHC education, I’ve learned that the best life is lived by the person who listens actively, boldly pursues the difficult questions that face our world today, and engages him or herself fully, with both mind and spirit. So though I now am a little more uncertain as to what my future holds, I consider uncertainty a small price to pay for the gift of learning to be awake, alive and responsive to the little moments that add up to a lifetime.”
Amanda Orders of Newton, N.C., MHC 2004, summa cum laude
Elementary Education major
"Some of what I realized in those four years of study and the years since, is that my life is about discovering/uncovering my humanity, my spirituality- finding myself.
I am a spiritual creature no matter what I believe or don’t believe. I am on a journey of life, of connectedness, of being and of meaning. These courses exposed me to different ways of thinking, viewing life and my place in life. They stretched my views, made me think and think critically. One of the professors exposed me to three questions that still factor into my everyday life: What is there? How do I know? So what? These courses opened my eyes to the wealth of spiritual and philosophical history from oral traditions to the written history of people asking these same three questions and their journey and struggle to answer them. My journey is one of joining in and finding its place."
Meg Heath (MHC ’93)
M.Div., Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond, ’96, chaplain and funeral director
"I graduated from Mars Hill College in May 2000 and one of the most important things I was taught was to never stop learning. What I have learned since graduation may not be book smarts but it is important just the same. Since graduation I have learned more about self-evaluation and life lessons than I thought possible. I have learned how fast a paycheck can go on paying bills. I learned that being married and living with a man is hard. I am still learning how hard the transition from living at home to visiting twice a month can be. Many of the life lessons we learn are very hard to accept. Some of experiences we do not want to accept and we avoid allowing our minds to consider the experience.
Jesus did not believe in being complacent. He believed in meeting people where they were. He met their needs physically and through doing that He met their spiritual needs. I challenge you to be like Jesus."
Jill Marlowe Simmons, PFC; MHC 2000
U.S. Army; married to Ashley Simmons, and proud mother of Lanie
"The MHC Religion and Philosophy Department is a haven for intellectual minds, a place where individuals can learn to think and grow in the supportive richness of phenomenal faculty. In this department, one will become who they really want to be or are meant to be through a process of conscious thought, challenging reading, writing and healthy debate."
"Self-consciousness exists in and for itself when, and by the fact that, it so exists for another; that is, it exists only in being acknowledged"
Georg Hegel -The Phenomenology of Spirit
Laura Boisvert Boyd, B.A., M.Ed, NCC
MHC Class of ’97
"The courses in the Religion and Philosophy Department at MHC were not only my favorite courses, but also the most personally formative. Although I was a psychology major, and certainly gained applicable career knowledge from the psych program, I gained life knowledge in courses such as Women and Religion, Christian Ethics, Life and Letters of Paul, and Contemporary Philosophy. The courses’ content was challenging, but more specifically it was the R & PD faculty approach that moved me to truly think for myself. They approached all students with the utmost respect, respect for personal beliefs (whatever they may be), and respect for the learning process. They are true educators in the sense that they taught me to think seriously about all issues I encounter in life, and make my own decisions accordingly.
"As I prepare to leave for a 2 year service in the Peace Corps in Niger, Africa, I feel that because of my time at MHC, specifically my time learning in the aforementioned classes, I am capable of meeting new and exciting challenges head on. While adapting to my new home in Niger, I hope to follow in the footsteps of my professors at MHC, and maintain the utmost respect for the dignity of the Nigerians I will be serving, and the integrity of their choice to follow their own paths."
Amy E. Hanes
"I pastor a small Baptist Church in the little town of Bakersville, in Mitchell County, North Carolina, where I was born and raised. Years ago I entered Mars Hill College as a young, naive mountain boy. I went to Mars Hill because as we Baptist say, "I felt the call to preach." I thought I might need some education. I received a good education from Mars Hill College. But what I really received from these professors was something I could not have predicted. They became my friends.
They became my counselors as well as my teachers. They gave me permission to rediscover God and to finally escape the mean-spirited fundamentalism I knew growing up as a kid. I learned from these people that God loved me, not only me, but everyone in this world. I was taught and learned the teachings of one
called Jesus. That it is possible to live in a world of love, not hate. That tolerance is a better way to win people over to love. I learned to have respect for all people, especially those different from me. These teachers didn’t just teach me this stuff, they lived it. [While] not one of their star students, I am probably one of their best success stories, or they changed my life. I cannot imagine who I would be if I had not attended Mars Hill College."
The Rev. Billy Stewart
Formerly, Chaplain at Avery-Mitchell Correctional Facility
Currently, Pastor of Bakersville Baptist Church, Mitchell County, N.C.