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WFU divinity students travel to learn over winter break

December 13, 2007

Wake Forest University Divinity School students will be immersed in new cultures during winter break this year as they study in Egypt, Italy and the Appalachian mountains. 

Neal Walls, associate professor of Old Testament interpretation at the divinity school, and Chaplain Tim Auman will lead an interfaith group of 25 graduate and undergraduate students as they explore the minority Christian ministry in the majority-Muslim city of Cairo, Egypt. The group will visit numerous Christian, Muslim and historically Jewish places of worship in the greater Cairo area as well as Egypt’s archeological sites near Luxor.  The group includes Christian, Muslim and Jewish students, who intend to use this experience to initiate conversations with the Muslim community at Wake Forest and in Winston-Salem when they return.  “By asking ‘who is my neighbor?’ in the local context,” says Walls, “we will consider the minority religious communities of Muslims and Orthodox Christians on our own campus and in our own society.”  The students depart for Egypt on Dec. 30 and return to campus Jan. 13.

Four Wake Forest students will accompany Craig Atwood, visiting professor of Moravian studies, and Diane Lipsett, assistant professor of New Testament and Christian origins, to La Falcota Valdese Theological Seminary, a Waldensian Seminary, in Rome during winter break.  The students are taking a multicultural immersion course called “Rome: The Crossroads of Religion,” and will share their classes with German and Italian students as well as students from American seminaries.   Modern Rome has become a vital location for immigrants from Africa and Eastern Europe.  The students will have the opportunity to discuss the challenges of multiculturalism with Italian officials and church leaders during their stay.  The Waldensians have long been proponents of religious freedom and expression in Italy.  The Christian denomination was persecuted as heretical by the Roman Catholic Church through the 17th century.  The Wake Forest delegation will leave Jan. 2 and return Jan. 15.

Bill Leonard, dean of the Wake Forest Divinity School, and Jill Crainshaw, associate dean and associate professor of ministry studies, will lead a group of five Wake Forest students to Burnsville, N.C., where they will experience the ways in which religious traditions are affected by changing cultural and economic challenges. Leonard’s course, “Fierce Landscapes: Listening to the People of Appalachia,” is made possible for the eighth year by a grant from the Appalachian Ministries Educational Resource Center and will run from Jan. 2 through Jan. 12.  Leonard says it’s important for theological students to experience different cultures by learning to listen and talk with people in the context of their own culture, whether that different culture is abroad or just a few hours away.

Press Contacts:

Audrey Fannin
(336) 758-5237

Kevin Cox
(336) 758-5237

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