School launches Community Engagement Fellows program

Wake Forest University School of Divinity is pleased to launch the Community Engagement Fellows program and to name its first Fellows for the 2012-2013 academic year. Thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor, the School of Divinity established the initiative to build on its commitment of forming leaders for ministry in the church and the world who are committed to engaging their communities through social justice.

The purpose of the Community Engagement Fellows Program is to strengthen campus wide engagement in the world, by identifying and encouraging talented community leaders to enter divinity school, by encouraging and supporting students who have a strong service background to continue their engagement while in school, by providing students with networking opportunities and financial support to deepen their engagement, and by convening students from seminaries around the country to work together on issues and programs that engage the church in the world. The program director for the Community Engagement Fellows program is Rev. Christopher Copeland, assistant director of leadership development at the School of Divinity.

“Community engagement and social justice are part of the ethos and DNA of the School of Divinity,” says Copeland. “The Fellows program gives our students the opportunity to think holistically about ministry shaped by community engagement, to encourage wider participation in Jesus’ call to social justice, and to live out their call to minister with those on the margins of society.” The program will provide stipends for summer internships and a cohort of supportive colleagues.

The Fellows are working to facilitate and promote the work of social justice in the School of Divinity community with a commitment to transforming the world through community engagement. In March 2013, the Fellows will host a conference for theology students in an effort to birth a movement of seminary students to do this transformative work.

The 2012-2013 Community Engagement Fellows are:

  • Molly Bolton earned her undergraduate degree in English from Wake Forest in 2010 and will graduate from the Wake Forest school of Divinity in 2014. She has been involved with a number of non-profits in Winston-Salem, as it is her hometown. In her second year of divinity school she will be interning at Green Street UMC where she hopes to integrate her passion for the arts into pastoral care and worship. Academically, Molly is especially interested in feminist theology, queer theology and interfaith dialogue.
  • Christopher Michael Coates is a native of Reidsville NC. He graduated from Hillside High School in Durham NC. Christopher received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Johnson C. Smith University with a major in Political Science and a minor in Religion and is currently a student a Wake Forest University School of Divinity. Community engagement and social justice is important to Chris because he believes that it is the responsibility of the church to serve the community and to be engineers of social change and reconciliation.
  • Jessica Place graduated from Northern Arizona University with a B.A. in Women’s & Gender Studies.  After college, she spent a year serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteer in Service to America).  As a first year Divinity student, she sees community engagement and social justice work as an integral part of her education, where she can put into practice the things she learns in the classroom.    Jessica is especially passionate about issues surrounding gender, LGBT equality, and economic justice.
  • Christopher Rinker is a twenty-two-year-old follower of Jesus Christ. Though he received a Bachelor’s degree in Archaeology from Washington University in St. Louis in December of 2011, his passion and conviction has been focused on helping victims of human trafficking and modern-day slavery for several years now. His faith largely informs his commitment to social justice and community engagement, as Jesus calls us to serve the “least of these” (Matthew 25:40). It is with this mindset that he has come to Wake Forest Divinity School, in order to place himself in God’s hands and become a part of his plan to continue to love and to serve those in need.
  • Jamie Sims is a second year student at Wake Forest University School of Divinity. He completed his undergraduate degree in 2009 with a B.A. in Religious Studies from Georgia State University in Atlanta, GA. He is passionate about food justice and environmental care – connecting all people with fresh, local food that has been produced in a way that is mindful of the environment.

About the Wake Forest University School of Divinity

The School of Divinity is a graduate, professional school that is Christian by tradition, Baptist in heritage, and ecumenical in outlook. Consistent with Wake Forest’s commitment to academic excellence and in the spirit of the University, Pro Humanitate, the School of Divinity prepares leaders informed by a theological understanding of vocation. Through imaginative courses and diverse programs of community engagement, students are equipped to be agents of justice, reconciliation, and compassion in Christian churches and other ministries.

The Master of Divinity (MDiv) degree stands at the center of the School of Divinity’s degree offerings. It prepares students from diverse church experiences and theological perspectives for religious leadership. Students study the rich histories and traditions of Christianity, to understand the changing social and religious landscape and to gain practical ministry experience in local and global contexts. The School of Divinity also has three joint degree offerings in law, bioethics, and counseling with other schools of the University.


Media Contact: Mark Batten | 336.758.3748

Categories: Academics, Community Engagement, Current Students, News