Elliott and PhillipsThe start of the 2013-2014 school year brings with it the addition of two new faculty members at Candler School of Theology. Dr. Thomas W. Elliott, Jr. will serve as the director of Contextual Education II, assistant professor in the practice of practical theology, and director of the Teaching Parish program and ministry internships. Nichole Renée Phillips joins the school as assistant professor of religion and human difference.

Elliott comes to Candler after 26 years as an elder in the North Georgia conference of The United Methodist Church. His work focuses on Wesleyan studies, polity, evangelism and mission, and contextual education. And because of his longstanding ties to local churches in the area, he will be well equipped to assist students in their second year placements in ecclesial settings.

"Years of pastoral ministry have convinced me that God is calling the church to new responses in a challenging world,” Elliott says. “My hope is that through Contextual Education II and Teaching Parish, students will have opportunities and experiences that encourage critical and reflective thinking about ministry and mission as they grow the theological insights, skills, and tools necessary to answer their calling."

An ordained Itinerant Elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) and graduate of Vanderbilt University Graduate Department of Religion, Phillips is no stranger to the Candler community—she joins the faculty following a Candler School of Theology/Graduate Division of Religion post doctoral fellowship. Her research interests include the intersection of religion, psychology, and culture; African American history and cultural studies; practical theology; and cultural anthropology with a focus on ethnographic research.

In addition to serving on ministerial staffs of churches in New England and in the South, Phillips is the first appointed professor of religion and human difference concentration at Candler, and she is encouraged by the direction and purpose she already sees in Candler’s student body.

“My hope and aim is to use my teaching gifts to contribute to the formation of this stellar group of students by developing within them the critical thinking and empathic skills necessary to change and heal communities and a world challenged by the fractures and conflicts that emerge because of religious and human differences—what we often identify as "-isms" in the American context— but include so much more on the world stage,“ shares Phillips.

We welcome Elliott and Phillips and look forward to the contributions they will make to the Candler community.