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RELIGIOUS STUDIES

BACHELOR OF ARTS DEGREE PROGRAM

THE DEPARTMENT OF RELIGIOUS STUDIES

Welcome to the Department of Religious Studies at Simmons College of Kentucky! We are committed to providing a 21st century educational experience that brings together the rich history of biblical and theological studies here at Simmons with the academic study of religion common at most universities and colleges across the U. S. We offer both traditional courses like Introduction to the Old and New Testaments, Christian Theology, Church History, and Preaching and culturally relevant ministry courses such as Ministry in the Black Church, Introduction to Social Welfare and the Church, Urban Church Growth, The Church and Social Action, and Conflict Ministry. We also offer innovative Special Topics courses in Bible, Theology and Ministry. These courses will equip students to be intelligent, innovative, and bold leaders that will impact our world and revitalize our communities.  

MAKING CONNECTIONS PAST AND PRESENT


Students will learn about the religious ideas and traditions that shaped history and influence the world today. They will learn to think critically about faith and it varied contours and practices in the world, particularly philosophical and religious questions and ideas rooted in the African American tradition. Both are standard approaches in universities and colleges. Learning to make these deeper connections prepares students to serve as change agents in the world and reflects our conviction that understanding religion is an important part of a Christian Liberal Arts education.


TRAINING STUDENTS TO ADDRESS GLOBAL AND LOCAL ISSUES

Training Students

Students will graduate prepared to be both global and local leaders who address the important and pressing problems of our world. Our programs and curriculum will prepare students to explore creative and practical solutions to problems such as declining congregations, the effects of poverty on local communities, the growing epidemic of drug abuse, historic and systemic problems related to racism, sexism and patriarchy, war and militarism, social unrest and ethnic strife, and unethical and unjust social policies and institutions. More importantly, students will be prepared to lead in a world religiously diverse that gets smaller by the day with technology and international travel.


Students will learn from a successful, diverse, and experienced team of scholars and ministers that teach you both theory and praxis and mentor you as you learn to implement what you learn in real world settings. The religion program here at Simmons will continually strive to be one of the leading programs in the state and region offering both Associate of Arts (66 credits) and Bachelor of Arts (120 credits) degrees in Religious Studies. I want to encourage you to schedule a visit to campus to meet the chair, members of the faculty and even sit in on a class. We welcome questions about our program. Feel free to contact our department chair lbrogdon@simmonscollegeky.edu.

THE CHAIR OF RELIGIOUS STUDIES

Dr. Lewis Brogdon “Building bridges between the church and the academy”

Dr. Brogdon has served in numerous positions in undergraduate and graduate institutions as a professor – Assistant Professor of New Testament and Black Church Studies at Louisville Seminary and Religion and Biblical Studies at Claflin University, and an Associate Professor of Christian Studies at Bluefield College. He also served those institutions as an administrator – the founding director of Louisville Seminary’s Black Church Studies Program, Provost at Simmons College of Kentucky, and Dean of Institutional Effectiveness and Research at Bluefield College. He serves as the new Visiting Professor of Preaching and Black Church Studies at the Baptist Seminary of Kentucky and Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at Simmons College of Kentucky.


Brogdon is the author of several books such as: A Companion to Philemon (Cascade 2018), The Spirituality of Black Preaching (Seymour Press 2016), The New Pentecostal Message? (Cascade 2015), Dying to Lead: The Disturbing Trend of Clergy Suicide (Seymour Press 2015), Hope on the Brink (Cascade 2013) and No Longer a Slave but a Brother (Scholars Press 2013). He has authored numerous journal articles, book chapter essays and magazine articles.

Dr. Brogdon is also a sought out preacher, lecturer, and panelist. He has lectured at Louisville Seminary, the Interdenominational Theological Center, Claflin University, and Radford University on nihilism in black America. He was the keynote speaker at a city wide Martin Luther King dinner in Dayton OH, and received an invitation to the White House in 2014. Also, he is a special guest on Black Politics Today and presents workshops at major conferences like the Hampton Ministers Conference at Hampton University, the Global 21 Congress in Jerusalem, and the annual congress for the National Baptist Convention of America, International (NBCA). Brogdon is an ordained minister of twenty six years and has pastored churches in Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio.

OUR FACULTY

Lewis Brogdon (Ph.D., M.Div.) Department Chair

Anum Akai (Ph.D., Th.M.)

Instructor

Jimmy Butts (M.Div.) –Instructor in Residence

Corey Shull – (M.A.R.) Instructor

Hal Ostrander (Ph.D., M.Div.) – Instructor

Ron Robinson (M.Div.) – Instructor

Maxine Thomas (D.Min., M.Div.) – Instructor

David Sawyer (Ph.D., M.Div.) – Instructor

Valerie Washington (D.Min., M.Div.) – Instructor

OUR MISSION

The Mission of the Department of Religious Studies: 

  • To teach students introductory and advanced courses in religion;
  • To educate current and future church and community leaders who desire specialized theological training;
  • To provide local, regional, and national African American churches and pastors with educational training, leadership development, ministerial resources, and critical conversations about the past, present, and future of ministry in the black church;
  • To serve in an advisory role to pastors and churches on major religious, theological, and social issues confronting congregations and to facilitate The development of effective models of preaching, teaching, leadership, and ministry.

PRE-SEMINARY ADVISING


Simmons College of Kentucky encourages students to pursue graduate study. Students that are interested in attending seminary or divinity school after graduation are encouraged to meet with Dr. Brogdon to learn about pre-seminary advising. Special vocational workshops will be offered by department faculty along with specialized advising and help arranging trips to local and regional seminaries. Faculty are also available to assist students with the application process.


Simmons has special relationships and partnerships with five regional seminaries that will allow SCKY graduates to apply and be admitted (as long as they meet GPA, background, and other admissions criteria.


Seminary Partner Schools

  • Baptist Seminary of Kentucky, Georgetown and Louisville KY
  • Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Louisville KY
  • Shaw Divinity School, Raleigh NC
  • United Theological Seminary, Dayton OH


Faculty Facilitator – Anum Akai (Ph.D., Th.M.)


Career Paths for Graduates in Religious Studies


Some students wonder why choose a degree in Religious Studies because they are not sure if they can find a good career in today’s competitive job market. You can find a good job with a degree in Religious Studies but you will need to do three things as a student in this program. First, in consultation with your advisor, choose an area of ministry or a profession in the broad field of religion. Second, get a good education. Register for required introductory courses and electives that build the knowledge and skills required for religious professionals, read the books assigned in class, cultivate critical thinking skills, write high quality papers, make excellent grades, and build good relationships with your professors. Third, position yourself to land a promising job or to be admitted into a solid graduate degree program by attending conferences, participating in internships, and networking. Faculty are here to help you succeed as a student and prepare for a successful career in a ministry or as a religious professional. We want you to put your religion degree to work!


Five Career Paths in Religion


1. Congregational Pastor

• Christian churches across the country and of various denominational affiliations need senior pastors to lead congregations.

• Part-time pastor’s salaries range between $15,000.00 and $26,000.00. Full time pastor’s salaries range between $20,000.00 and $60,000.00, depending on factors such as congregational size, denomination, and location.

• You will graduate from Simmons prepared to pursue seminary or divinity school studies to prepare for the pastorate or in some cases to lead as a pastor with your Bachelor’s degree.

• You will learn the following: foundational studies in Bible, Christian theology and ministry, ordination processes, applying to churches, interviewing with churches, teaching Bible study, preaching Biblically-balanced and engaging sermons, providing pastoral care and being a community leader.


2. Associate Minister or Staff Minister

• Christian churches across the country need both paid and volunteer associate and staff ministers to carry out the work of ministry.

• Part-time staff pastors or ministers salaries range between $2,600.00 and $18,000. Full time staff pastors or ministers salaries range between $18,000.00 and $48,000.00, depending on factors such as congregational size, denomination, and location.

• You will graduate from Simmons prepared to pursue seminary or divinity school studies to prepare to assist congregations and senior pastors in the work of ministry as a staff minister. You will be prepared to carry out ministerial tasks with the highest level of professionalism and competence.

• You will learn the following: foundational studies in Bible, Christian theology and ministry, denominational choices and ministry vocation, the choices between fulltime ministry, bi-vocational or part-time ministry, and navigating the various fields of ministry: Christian education, advertising, church administration, counseling, visitation, missions, youth ministry, and music ministry.


3. Hospital, Military, University or College Chaplaincy

• Hospitals, other medical institutions, the Armed Forces, and religiously affiliated universities and colleges all employ full time and in some cases part-time chaplains.

• Full time chaplain salaries range from $30,000.00 to $48,000.00 – depending on factors such as hospital size, budget, military branch, etc.

• You will graduate from Simmons prepared to pursue seminary or divinity school studies which are a requirement for a career in chaplaincy.

• You will learn the following: foundational studies in Bible, Christian theology and ministry, ordination processes, providing pastoral care outside congregational settings, and what is clinical pastoral education (CPE) and the role it has in theological education.


4. Denominational or Non-Profit Leadership and Administration

• Denominations such as the Presbyterian Church (USA), United Methodist Church, Southern Baptist Convention, National Baptist Convention of America International, and others have national headquarters and regional offices that employ administrators who provide leadership to the denomination. In addition, there are a number of non-profit agencies and organizations such as the United Way, Goodwill, Salvation Army, and Habitat for Humanity that employ religious professionals.

• Full time administrator and executive salaries range between $28,000.00 and $100,000.

• You will graduate from Simmons prepared to pursue seminary or divinity school studies, which are a requirement for a career as either a denominational administrator or leader of a non-profit agency. In some cases, non-profit agencies and organizations hire administrators or staff personnel with a bachelor’s degree.

• You will learn the following: foundational studies in Bible, Christian theology and ministry, ordination processes, denominational choices and ministry vocation, and being a community and or church leader.


5. Ministry in other Service Fields and Industries

• Many other fields are open to students outside of congregations and hospitals that give them the opportunity to use their faith and education to make a difference in the world: religious scholars, Christian theologians, ethicists, family counselors, social workers, attorneys, journalists, educators, or business entrepreneurs. Religious studies is a foundational degree in the field of humanities as it draws together concepts from history, philosophy, ethics, anthropology, culture, and literature. Studying this interdisciplinary field prepares students to be critical thinkers with a solid foundation for advanced study. A successful religious studies graduate could easily go on to complete graduate degrees in non-religious fields.

• Salary ranges in these field vary from $28,000.00 to $120,000.

• You will graduate from Simmons prepared to pursue graduate study in the fields of religion, sociology, law, business administration, communications, and counseling.

• You will learn the following: foundational studies in Bible, Christian theology and ministry, denominational choices and ministry vocation, and being a community and or church leader.