Category Archives: Education

Armenian Genocide International Remembrance Day

Editor’s note: This post did not get posted on Tuesday (April 24) because of edits to this site.

Christine Moughamian

By Blogger Christine Moughamian
One Yogini, Many Paths

Today, April 24, 2012 is the International Day of Remembrance for the Armenian Genocide of 1915-1923, when the Muslim Ottoman Empire systematically killed an estimated 1-1.5 million Christian Armenians.

The commemoration is marked in the United States by David Godine’s

release of Franz Werfel’s novel ‘The Forty Days of Musa Dagh.’ The new, expanded translation by James Reidel demands recognition as a major literary and cultural event.

Although a work of fiction, the 1933 novel is based on historical events. In his introduction to the book, Vartan Gregorian, President, Carnegie Corporation of New York, writes:

“…I had read ‘The Forty Days of Musa Dagh’ in Armenian, when I was a teenager, and it had made quite an impression on me…I believed – and still do – that ‘The Forty Days of Musa Dagh’ saved the Armenian genocide from being neglect and gave a literary symbol of survival and renewal to the Armenians.”

The novel centers on the struggle of a small Armenian community in a mountainous region of the former Ottoman Empire as they are deported and exterminated by a totalitarian regime. First published in Austria in November 1933, it achieved international success.

Gregorian says:

“To Armenians, Franz Werfel still embodies the conscience of European literature and its commitment to universal justice and the dignity of man.”

Moreover, it foreshadows the Jewish Holocaust by the Nazis during WWII.

Historic Ephesus Junior Academy closer to reopening

Board member Ron Sparks poses with the Ephesus Junior Academy sign. He's trying to get the school started once more. Photo by Amanda Greene


Since his days as a Wilmington city councilman, Ron Sparks has been working diligently on a project very close to his heart – the reopening of Ephesus Junior Academy.

The kindergarten through eighth grade school is located on two floors of the brick L-shaped side of Ephesus Seventh-day Adventist Church at 1002 Castle Street. In its 100 years, the multi-racial school hosted thousands of students before it was closed because of its low class sizes in late 2010.

Because it did not have the required minimum of 12 students enrolled, the school’s accrediting organization, Adventist Education, temporarily closed Ephesus Junior Academy just before its 100th birthday.

“My mother went here, I went here, my aunt when here,” Sparks said. He’s on the school’s board. “The church stands behind the school. To say we were not happy when it closed is not even close to describing it.”

Ephesus alum Carl Newton said his heart broke when he heard the academy had closed.

“Especially now, kids need a school like that. That kind of attention,” he said, now a graduation coach at Hoggard High School. “Everybody can’t go to the same school. At that point in my life, that school met my needs.”

At one time, the church was so dedicated to keeping the school open, it subsidized tuition, sending up to $3,700 each month (the amount due for 12 students) to its parent organization, even though it only had four students enrolled. Tuition at the private school was one of the lowest in Wilmington at $250 per month.

But it wasn’t enough.

Adventist Education challenged Ephesus to boost its enrollment to at least 12 students and raise $60,000 in payroll balances for its teachers before re-opening. There are other Seventh-day schools in the area including Wilmington SDA School, Carolina Adventist Academy in Whiteville and Myrtle Beach SDA Christian School.

Sparks blamed the school’s sagging enrollment on the closing of a daycare linked to the school six years ago and the lack of community recruitment.

But he said the school has had a lasting impact on children in downtown Wilmington. In its history, the school was located in Castle Hayne and off Beasley Road.

The school once held fundraising education banquets with invited speakers talking about the state of American education. In 2002, one banquet theme was “The Role of the Home, the Church and the Community in the Education of the Child.” In 1985, an Ephesus school fundraiser featured Kennedy Center and Crystal Cathedral performer Wintley Phipps.

Sparks hopes the school can return to being a vibrant part of the downtown community again.

To prepare for a re-opening, Ephesus replaced all of the school’s windows, installed a handicapped stair access to its second floor and bought all new laptop computers.

There aren’t any electronic smartboards at Ephesus, as there are in

One of the classrooms at Ephesus Junior Academy. The school hopes to reopen in fall 2012. Photo by Amanda Greene.

many local public schools. But Sparks says the school has something more substantial – small class sizes and one-on-one teacher attention.

“We have a long history of being able to turn children around, children who have been in distress in the public school system,” he added. “When issues break out in the classroom, what the public schools can’t do is pray with the children. Our children can pray together.”

Ephesus Academy’s curriculum includes a bible class at each grade level along with art, computers, language arts, math, music, physical education, science and health and social studies.

But “turning children into Adventists isn’t the mission,” Sparks said. “We want to develop moral children to survive in the modern world.”

Newton took away many life lessons from his time at Ephesus Academy.

“Teachers then were more concerned with you learning the lesson versus preparing for a test,” he said. “And just being honest and always thinking about your fellow man, having integrity, always trying to do what was right and acknowledging the fact that you knew right from wrong. We were taught to acknowledge that.”

Amanda Greene: 910-520-3958 or on Twitter @WilmFAVS

Q conference seeks to present different face of evangelical activism

Q founder Gabe Lyons, who will present the sixth annual Q conference in Washington. RNS photo courtesy of Waterbrook Multnoham Publishing Group

c. 2012 Religion News Service
Reprinted with permission

(RNS) Gabe Lyons thinks Christian culture warriors are on the wrong path.

His sixth annual Q Conference, which opens Tuesday (April 10) in Washington, D.C., is an attempt to do things differently. With 700 participants gathered in a stately downtown auditorium, Lyons will play host to a distinct kind of Christian conference, one that seeks a respectful, constructive conversation on a host of issues confronting the nation.

Q, which stands for “question,” will allow 30 different culture leaders — from New York Times columnist David Brooks to Florida megachurch pastor Joel Hunter — to present their ideas for the common good during a two-and-a-half day confab.

“We feel we have a role to play in renewing the culture and holding back the effects of sin,” said Lyons, founder of Q, a nonprofit organization based in New York City. “We’re not to do it in an antagonistic way. We hope to do it in a hopeful way that gives witness to the rest of the world in how things ought to be.”

Part Clinton Global Initiative, part TED Talk, the conference is designed to highlight the best ideas rather than condemning the nation’s ills. Presenters are allocated three, nine, or 18 minutes to talk. Participants sit at round tables instead of rows, and time is built in for participants to reflect and talk about what they’ve heard.

That kind of format allows Q to include both Richard Land from the religious right and Jim Wallis from the religious left; both will share the stage Tuesday to discuss areas of potential agreement.

Lyons, a Liberty University graduate, said he realized nine years ago how little most Americans respected Christianity. That realization prompted him to acknowledge that the nation’s religious pluralism was here to stay, and that if Christians wanted their views to be given a thoughtful hearing, they had better quit resisting and start creating a culture that allows God’s love to break though.

His 2010 book, “The Next Christians: The Good News About the End of Christian America,” was a kind of manifesto calling Christians to quit cursing the darkness and start lighting a candle.

Land, who heads the Southern Baptist Convention‘s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, said he appreciates Lyons’ point, but thought it was overly simplistic. “Jesus called us to do both; He called us to be salt and light,” Land said. “We can walk and chew gum at the same time.”

Land said his own denomination, which is often cast as a judgmental culture agitator, is also among the nation’s largest providers of emergency disaster relief. In addition, its members give a higher proportion of their incomes to charity.

But Q participants are not about to compromise their evangelical convictions. On Thursday, participants will fan out across Washington to press Congress, the White House and the State Department on issues they deem important.

The difference, Lyons said, is the tone.

“It’s more civil, less fear-based,” he said. “There’s more appreciation for the intellect and a commitment to let the best ideas win out.”

(The Q Conference will provide a free video stream of its opening day sessions from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. and from 7 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. at

COMMENTARY: Why are conservatives stepping away from science?

By Blogger David Scott
Politics + Religion

Both my wife and I have degrees in science and put a lot of confidence in the scientific method in which conclusions are based on replicable experiments. All responsible scientists would scoff at conclusions drawn from anything less.

In the April 1 issue of “The L.A. Times,” a short article caught my eye entitled, “Conservatives have lost faith in science, new study shows.” A recent study conducted by the American Sociological Review revealed trust in science among conservatives and frequent churchgoers had plummeted since 1974. Before that time, conservatives had the highest level of trust in scientists. Another striking statistic is confidence in science had declined most among the most educated conservatives.

A Gallop poll conducted also in 2012 found just 30 percent of conservatives believe in global warming. Past surveys among conservatives have shown less than half believe in evolution.

I think because so many political conservatives in the U.S. are evangelical Christians, it is fair to assume their beliefs greatly influence this attitude toward science. My question is “Why and how can such a large segment of our population simply disregard scientific research?”

I can only speculate why intelligent and often well-informed people are eager to treat science so cavalierly and hold it in such low regard, especially considering what science has meant to the betterment of the human condition.

If I had to guess, it is this evangelical group’s willingness to take a “leap of faith,” the very requirement their religious faith requires of them. Don’t think, just believe! Do it, even if it defies reason! Don’t ask questions, just do it! Put your faith in wishful thinking in lieu of facts!

The Bible is a lot of things, but good science, it’s not. For these believers, to abdicate their ability to reason in exchange for biblical inerrancy is, at least to me, a bargain, not with an omniscient God, but with an ignorant devil.

If these people could harmlessly think their unenlightened thoughts in a vacuum, no harm done. Unfortunately, these people vote, run for office, and set national and international policy governing our lives, our future, the natural world, and our very survival. In this case, I think it’s fair to say blind faith can kill.

Cape Fear Community College Food Drive ends April 13

Andy Lee

By Blogger Andy Lee
Walk the Talk

When we think of helping the needy in our community, our minds gravitate toward feeding the hungry. It is a growing need. According to the Central and Eastern North Carolina Food Bank website, “In the counties served by the Wilmington branch, over 61,000 individuals are at risk of hunger; over 18,000 are children and 12 percent are 65 years and over.”

There are many ministries and nonprofit organizations all over Wilmington trying to help meet this need. Many of these organizations are food pantries.

Have you ever wondered where the food pantries get their food? It doesn’t fall from the sky. (Not this time.) Food pantries often buy food from the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina.

That begs another question: Where does the food bank get its food? Answer: In part, from donations from businesses and food drives sponsored by organizations like Cape Fear Community College.

Cape Fear Community College’s Student Government is sponsoring the college’s first food drive to benefit the food bank through April 13. Bring your food donations to Building L-112 on the Wilmington campus or to the lobby of the North campus’ McKeithan Building.

Participating in CFCC’s food drive will play a role in providing for our regional food bank and thus help feed the hungry in Wilmington.

Take time to click here to read the motivational letter written by a participant. His letter makes me want to drive to CFCC today with a bag full of food!

Read more about our regional food bank here.

Food pantry volunteer, Ricky Roundtree, loads a cart with bags of food to move out onto the main floor area of Holy Grounds Feb. 10. Roundtree and other food pantry volunteers gather every Friday to do the final preparations for the food pantry. Photo by Sara Clark

Faith Photo Spotlight: Preparing to write the New Testament. . .on concrete

Students from Columbus Christian Academy write parts of The New Testament on Whiteville's sidewalks April 3 as a test run of the Walk with Jesus New Testament Writing set for Easter Sunday 2012. Photo by Mark Gilchrist/The News Reporter

Students from Columbus Christian Academy tried out their Bible-writing skills Tuesday (April 3) in Whiteville.

The News Reporter, Whiteville’s newspaper, hosted a test run of its larger project for Easter Sunday – The Walk with Jesus Sunrise Service and New Testament Writing which will be at 6:30 a.m. Sunday (April 8) on the streets of downtown Whiteville.

The students tested writing pieces of scripture with colored chalk.

– Amanda Greene

Steel walls arrive for the new Coastal Christian High School; students embrace site with prayer chain

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


After years of waiting, students, teachers, administrators and church officials connected to Coastal Christian High School saw the steel walls of their new building arrive Wednesday (March 28).

“Spread out arms-length, but leave room for Jesus!” yelled teachers as they positioned students around the plot for the 26,000 square foot facility.

Standing shoulder-to-shoulder in a wide circle around their high school plot behind the Myrtle Grove Post Office, about 200 students joined hands, prayed and sang hymns for the success of the construction project.

CCHS Sophomore Madison Ashcraft said she wasn’t sure before today if the new school would be completed before she graduated. The high school has been meeting in Temple Baptist Activity Center since it began in 2006, and the new building is set for completion in January 2013.

“It’s pretty crazy because for so long we’ve been cramped up in that building. It hasn’t been real until I came out here today,” she said.

Principal Kirk Nielsen gave the first blessing of the morning’s prayer service.

“Each and every one of us are living stones of God’s house, and we need to stand as living stones of Coastal Christian High School,” he said.

Concrete footings for the building were poured last week, and school officials expect the walls to be erected in the next two weeks.

BRIEF: Coastal Christian High School taking shape

The rapidly growing Coastal Christian High School, which has become too large for its current home in a rented church activity center, is breaking ground on a new building in the Monkey Junction area. StarNews Staff Photo by PAUL STEPHEN

WILMINGTON | The new Coastal Christian High School is taking shape.

The metal framework for the interdenominational Christian high school’s new building is set to go up Wednesday. Concrete footings were poured earlier in March, and a concrete slab is set to go down in early April, said Cindy Auten, the school’s development director.

With 26,000 square feet, it will have space for 340 students in 15 classrooms, two science labs, a library and a gym. Students will move to the new building by the 2012 holiday season.

Coastal Christian has been renting Temple Baptist Church’s six-classroom activity center since the high school opened with 42 students in 2006. About 190 students attended the school this year, and administrators expect about 240 students to enroll for next year.

– Pressley Baird
Copyright StarNewsOnline 2012
Reprinted with permission


Faith Photo Spotlight: One more for up on the roof

WilmingtonFAVS contributor Sara Clark captured this photo of St. Mary Catholic School Principal Joyce Price showing off her pajamas on the roof of her school Monday.

St. Mary Catholic School principal Joyce Price, standing on the roof of her school in downtown Wilmington after challenging her students to read 20,000 books.

Up on the roof

Principal Joyce Price visiting a St. Mary Catholic School class before ascending to the roof. Photo by Amanda Greene


“Were you the ones who put me up on the roof?” asked St. Mary Catholic School’s principal Joyce Price.

She was standing in Alyssa Valente’s second grade classroom, her blonde

Principal Joyce Price chats with students before going to her roof post on March 19. Photo by Amanda Greene

hair in curlers and wearing a bubble gum pink bathroom robe.

And it was all in the name of motivating her students to read, read, read.

Last week, during the school’s book fair, Price challenged all of St. Mary’s students to read 20,000 pages in one week. The prize: she would spend a whole school day on the roof in her pajamas.

Well, with a challenge like that, her students took her challenge and tripled it. They read more than 67,ooo pages in one week.

Joyce Price up on the roof of St. Mary Catholic School in March 19. Photo by Amanda Greene

“It’s been almost like a TV-less week here,” one St. Mary’s teacher said. “Everyone’s been reading, even the older kids.”

Once she was on the roof under a red tend, Price shed her bath robe,

sporting pajama pants. A little girl ran by on the playground below, yelling: “I like your tent!”

One little girl stopped her kickball game to ask: “What’s on your pj’s?”

“They’re little French poodles,” Price yelled down. “Do you have a dog like that?”