Professor publishes empirical study on black megachurches

By Catherine Collins

Dr. Tamelyn Tucker-Worgs, associate professor of political science, has published a book entitled “The Black Megachurch: Theology, Gender, and the Politics of Public Engagement,” which draws from 10 years of research and data collection to serve as the first empirical study of the black megachurch phenomenon in the United States.

Tucker-Worgs will host a lecture followed by a book signing and a reception to celebrate the publication of the book on Oct. 4 at 6:30 p.m. in Whitaker Campus Commons.

Black megachurches, which are communities of tens of thousands of patrons, became a phenomenon around 1980 after the American civil rights movement in the 1960s. Tucker-Worgs’s book studies 149 megachurches to draw conclusions about their effectiveness regarding the modern problems facing African-Americans in this country.

“The basic question that I sought to address with the book was: What role are black megachurches playing in contemporary public life?” Tucker-Worgs said in an e-mail. “Particularly, do they address or even attempt to address the challenges that face black communities in the post-civil rights era (examples of these challenges: health, income, education disparities that still exist despite all the progress that the CRM was instrumental in making)?”

To research the book, Tucker-Worgs conducted surveys among various pastors of megachurches and directors of companies affected by megachurches; visited and observed over 50 megachurches; analyzed sermons and documents from megachurches; and interviewed members of the churches.

“A lot has been said and written about the black megachurch, but little of it with empirical evidence,” she said. “It mostly looks at them as homogenous – like they don’t vary. I found that they are very diverse, especially in how they engage public life.”

As its title implies, the book considers three aspects of the megachurch phenomenon – a church’s theological viewpoint, the role of gender in its leadership, and its community involvement – to make conclusions about various churches’ effectiveness in addressing modern inequality.

 

Athletic department welcomes new coach: Jack Mehl

By Maegan Green

Jack Mehl, the new women’s basketball coach, is excited to start the year.

Photo coursey of Hood Athletic Department

This year, Hood’s athletic department welcomes a new head coach of the ladies’ basketball team, Jack Mehl.  He has over 30 years of coaching experience, including 18 years atFrederickCommunity College.

“I am really excited about coaching the girls’ basketball team at Hood this year,” said Mehl.  “I have coached at a lot of different levels, from boys and girls in elementary school to teens and young adults in high school and college.” 

This will be Mehl’s first time as the head coach of a four-year college. 

“My goal is for us to be successful both on and off the court,” said Mehl.  “Coaching is about more than just winning games – it is about building relationships, boosting confidence, making sure that our players are doing well academically as well.”

The women’s basketball team will not start practicing until Oct. 15, so the new coach has not had the chance to assess what he can do to help them improve.

“My goal is to help every member of this team become the best person they can be, whether it involves preparing them for the next game or talking them through something that is impacting their lives outside of basketball,” Mehl said.

“I am very excited about the new coach,” said Kelsey Knippenberg, a sophomore shooting guard.  “He seems like a very respectful, down-to-earth guy who wants what’s best for us.  He’s really funny.” 

Although players have not had the chance to learn Mehl’s coaching style, many teammates can agree that they are excited to work with their new coach. 

“I like his philosophy,” said Dyanna Prader, the team captain.  “He seems like a nice guy off the court, but I have not dealt with him on the court.” 

“We have to change our foundation and get used to a new coaching style, but all of these changes are positive,” said Prader.  “Coach Mehl wants us to succeed on and off the court and I think that our team will improve a lot this year.”

Mehl recently retired from teaching math at Brunswick High for 32 years. 

He graduated fromBucknellUniversityinPennsylvaniawith a degree in mathematics.  While in college, he was involved in the school radio station.

“Some of my best experiences as a coach are not about wins and losses,” said Mehl.  ‘They are about having a positive influence on the lives of students who need guidance, encouragement, advice, and support.”

 

Unconventional course offerings at Hood: Zombie History

By Kristinia Southwell
Dr. Jay Driskell teaches his course “A Zombie History of the U.S.,” in which students explore the historical and cultural symbolism in classic zombie films.

Photo by Stacey Axler

Thanks to some unusual course offerings introduced to students this semester, Hood is making a national name for itself.

The college recently made the list of “22 Fascinating and Bizarre College Classes Offered This Semester,” in an online article picked up by CNN.com.  Hood was listed as #13 with “Biology of Jurassic Park,” but that is not the only offbeat course offered here.    

“A Zombie History of theU.S.,” a course taught by Dr. Jay Driskell, assistant professor of history, was offered for the first time this semester and has created a buzz among students. While the class does capitalize on the popularity of zombies, it also explores significant historical events.

Driskell, a self-proclaimed zombie movie fan, found inspiration for the course after watching George Romero’s classic 1968 zombie movie “Night of the Living Dead” this past summer and noticing that the plot works as a metaphor for race in the South.

“Zombies have been used as cultural metaphors to talk about slavery, imperialism, race, foreign peoples, fears of catastrophe, apocalypse, and armageddon … and those are things I have been interested in for a long time,” Driskell said.

The course features screenings of many popular zombie movies such as “28 Days Later” and “Shaun of the Dead,” but Driskell stressed that the class is not a “fluff course.”  

“It’s not just watching movies and fun,” said student Emily Goldstein.

Fellow student Ian Chalmers admitted, “It’s harder than I thought it would be.”

Driskell’s course aims to teach students “the tools of cultural history and our cultural language.” Courses that incorporate pop culture and contemporary trends “are useful in making the liberal arts relevant to things immediately around us,” said Driskell.

There are some downsides to unusual courses, however.

“There is no textbook really for a zombie history of theUnited States,” Driskell said. “I had to go pretty far and wide to find things that would tie this together into a coherent narrative.” 

Driskell hopes that the course will be a success and that his students learn something.  “It’s been a fun class so far,” he said. “I hope I get the chance to teach the class again.  I hope it’s not just trendy.”

College reflects on tenth anniversary of Sep. 11

 By Stacey Axler and Shelia Headspeth

Photo by Tori Peterson
Senior Sarah Morris put up flags on the quad last year for September 11.

Photo by Tori Peterson

Students and faculty alike expressed their thoughts and feelings regarding the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on Sep.11, 2001.

“I was in the fifth grade when it happened, and the whole event still seems very surreal,” said junior Ashley Birdsell.

“I just remember being bewildered that anybody could do such a horrific thing, but it’s amazing how the nation banded together,” said sophomore Kate Kopasek.

Reverend Beth O’ Malley dedicated her weekly Wednesday Interfaith service on Sep. 7 to the resonating emotions that lasted from the terrorist attacks.

“Our proximity toWashingtonmeans that so many members of our community were touched by those events either through their work, a connection to someone in or near the attack sites, or simply by watching the attacks unfold on the news and feeling the emotions that accompanied them,” O’Malley said.

To commemorate past anniversaries of Sep. 11, the Hood College Republicans and Democrats put up American flags on the quad to remind Hood students of the lives lost during the terrorist attacks.

This year, however, there was not an on-campus memorial because of a Frederick-wide interfaith memorial service planned by community faith leaders that took place inBakerPark.

Many Hood students took advantage of the campus interfaith service or the community interfaith service to memorialize the atrocities that occurred ten years ago.

“Everyone, when thinking about Sept. 11, remembers a different part of that day.  Many people want to share their experiences with others,” Reverend O’Malley said.