PASSING OF EMERITUS PROFESSOR AND FORMER CHAIR JAMES KIRK
RLGS notes with sorrow the passing of Professor Emeritus James Kirk, a founding member and former chair of this department, on November 23, 2013.
As we note in our Kirk Lectureship description,
"James A. Kirk began as a part-time faculty member in the Department in 1956 while he was pursuing a Th.D. at the Iliff School of Theology, and was hired as a full-time faculty member in 1959. In the early years of his teaching, his focus was philosophy of religion, which had been his doctoral concentration.
"In the course of time, his interest migrated to Asian religions, and that interest was nourished by a year spent in India and Japan (1967-68). In 1972 he published Stories of the Hindus (MacMillan), a textbook that was well-received and widely-adopted in colleges and universities around the country. After that time, he became a regular faculty member for the Semester at Sea Program, and was an invited observer at the centenary meeting of the Parliament of the World's Religions in Chicago in 1993."
His loss is a loss to the Department and the entire University community.
Drew University's General Commission on Archives and History (which publishes Methodist History), has invited William Gravely to make a few remarks on a recent archival donation related to Bishop Gilbert Haven.
The papers are from the Haven and North families, and have been donated to the Methodist archives housed at Drew University, where Gravely went to theological school.
"The Haven materials apparently have correspondence to people like John Brown before his death, William Lloyd Garrison, General/President U. S. Grant, etc. Haven played a role in the creation of Clark in Atlanta and Claflin in Orangeburg, SC—historic African-American institutions, was president of the American Women's Suffrage Association, edited ZION'S HERALD weekly from 1867-72 for New England Methodism and turned it into a reform newspaper and was a bishop in the Methodist Episcopal Church from 1872 until his death.
"He travelled to Mexico and wrote a book about that experience, wrote the biography of "Father" Taylor, the preacher for Seaman's Bethel church and model for Father Mapple in Moby Dick, published his abolitionist and anti-racist sermons in 1869 (NATIONAL SERMONS) and went to Liberia to hold annual conference there and where he caught malaria that ended up taking his life.
"Besides my book on him 40 years ago, I did an article on his visit to the Rocky Mountains in the COLORADO (Historical Society) MAGAZINE back in the 1970s. Gilbert Haven Jones, the first black PhD from a European university and president of Wilberforce in Ohio and Gilbert Haven Caldwell, Sr. and Jr. (the latter living in NJ) were named for him as were several black Methodist churches and secondary mission schools in the South, the latter being the Boylan-Haven-Mather Academy in SC now closed."
Gravely's talk and the exhibit reception took place on April 9, 2013, at Drew University.
The image that appears on the right side of opening slide in the Religious Studies banner is of a sculpture, "Mizrach," by Harry Green, which hangs in the departmental office suite. In Hebrew, mizrach (מזרח) means "east," and the sculpture evokes those traditional Jewish wall hangings, popular since medieval times, which always included a representation of Jerusalem and which indicated the orientation for the morning service of prayer.
About the sculpture, Wallace wrote, "We find this sculpture full of power as well as peace. Perhaps, for us, it is a reminder of the vision and hope for a 'new Jerusalem.'" We are pleased the Clifts have chosen to share this treasured piece of art with the department, and we are delighted to share it with you.