Werline Named Barnhill Endowed Chair in Religious Studies at Barton

WILSON, N.C. — The Office of Academic Affairs at Barton College is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Rodney A. Werline as the inaugural Marie and Leman Barnhill Endowed Chair in Religious Studies.

“We are very fortunate to have Dr. Rodney Werline join our faculty,” said Dr. Terrence L. Grimes, vice president for academic affairs. “He brings to us a wealth of experience from his Disciples of Christ ministry and from his higher education teaching. The addition of his impressive credentials in scholarship and publications makes him an exemplar of the ideal faculty combination of scholarship, teaching, and service. We look forward to enjoying the many contributions that Rod will make to our Barton community.”

As the Marie and Leman Barnhill Endowed Chair in Religious Studies, Dr. Werline has specific responsibilities assigned in addition to his teaching responsibilities in the classroom. Among those responsibilities will be representing the Department of Religion and Philosophy and Barton College on local, regional, and national levels. He will engage in scholarship, presenting those results of scholarship within the community of scholars and in public venues. Dr. Werline also will foster productive church relationship building with the campus community; and, finally, he will engage in professional development and, where appropriate, share his experiences for the benefit of colleagues.

“I am very excited to be a part of a college that is so dedicated to achieving excellence,” shared Dr. Werline. “Also, I am deeply grateful to Mrs. Barnhill and her family for their generosity and commitment to Barton’s mission, the value of scholarship, and the college’s historic relationship to the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).”

Dr. Werline completed a Bachelor of Arts degree at Kentucky Christian College in Grayson, Ky., in 1983. He continued his studies at the graduate level earning a Master of Divinity degree at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., in 1986 and earned a Ph.D. in Religion at The University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa, in 1995. His area of study was focused on Judaism and Christianity in the Greco-Roman World.

He most recently served as senior minister of the First Christian Church (DOC) in Greensboro, while also teaching as an adjunct professor in religion at Greensboro College. Previous faculty positions have included appointments at UNC-Charlotte, Emmanuel School of Religion in Johnson City, Tenn., Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa, the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, Iowa, Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and The University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa.

Other professional positions include co-founder and co-chair of the Religious Experience in Early Judaism and Early Christianity Consultation for The Society of Biblical Literature, and founding member and steering committee member of Penitential Prayer: Origin, Development, and Impact Consultation for The Society of Biblical Literature.

Dr. Werline is proficient in six additional languages including: Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, Ethiopic, French and German. He also has a working knowledge of Syriac and Latin.

While serving appointments in both the classroom and the parish ministry, Dr. Werline has maintained a strong focus on research and publishing. Widely respected for his work, he has numerous books, projects, articles, and book reviews in print. Most recently published is his book, “Pray Like This,” which was introduced this past spring. Dr. Werline shared that this book was written for a lay readership and offers a unique format, “which attempts to bring spiritual reflection and autobiography into conversation with biblical scholarship.”

He also serves as co-editor of “Seeking the Favor of God, Volume 2: The Development of Penitential Prayer in Second Temple Judaism” with Mark Boda (lead editor) and Daniel Falk. The scheduled release date is November 2007. This follows on the heels of their first volume of the same title, printed in 2006. An anticipated third volume is in preparation for publication release next year. Dr. Werline also has delivered a number of conference presentations across the U.S., and has been involved in a wide variety of denomination and community work-related projects and programs.

Dr. Werline is the son of Wanda and Delbert Werline of Lexington, Ky. His wife, Kathy, teaches at Speight Middle School in Wilson County. They have two daughters, Madison, a music major at Appalachian State University, and Baylee, a junior at Hunt High School.

Marie and Leman Barnhill

Marie S. Barnhill of Williamston and her husband, the late H. Leman Barnhill, were ardent supporters of Barton College during his lifetime. And, now, Mrs. Barnhill continues the tradition by establishing the Marie and Leman Barnhill Endowed Chair in Religious Studies in memory of her beloved husband. Dr. Barnhill was a 1927 graduate of Barton College (then Atlantic Christian College) and a longtime member of the College’s Board of Trustees, serving on the Board from 1958 to 1992. In 1983, the College awarded Leman Barnhill an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree. He was a revered civic, business, and church leader during his life, and his wife, Marie, equally respected for her service to church and community, has remained a loyal and faithful friend of the College since his passing. Prior to his death, the couple established the H. Leman and Marie S. Barnhill Endowed Scholarships in 1986. The earnings from this endowment are divided equally among four students: one each from the freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior classes at Barton College. First preference for these scholarships is a student from the First Christian Church of Williamston. Second preference is a resident of Martin County, N.C.

The newly established Marie and Leman Barnhill Endowed Chair in Religious Studies is a testament to Mrs. Barnhill’s continued dedication and commitment to church and college, and it provides an extraordinary legacy for her husband who provided astute leadership and service to the College for over 35 years.

Dr. Werline’s longstanding relationship with the Christian Church (DOC), his expertise in the field of religious studies, and his commitment to excellence in the classroom personifies the Barnhills’ commitment to discipleship and their passion for higher education.

Questions? Please contact Kathy Daughety, director of public relations, at 252-399-6529 or email: kdaughety@barton.edu.