For Immediate Release
Date: Tuesday, February 28, 2023
Columbia, S.C.—During a special virtual ceremony on Saturday, February 25, the Votaries Alumni Circle of Cherry Hill Seminary announced the winner of this year’s Wendy Griffin Professor of the Year Award. The recipient is Robert Patrick, PhD, MDiv, Dept. of Ministry, Advocacy & Leadership.
Patrick (pictured at left) holds a BA in Biblical Literature from Oral Roberts University, a Masters of Divinity from Emory University, and a PhD in Latin and Roman Studies from the University of Florida. His dissertation focused on the presence of sacred groves in the Metamorphoses of Ovid as nonlinear events, and he has continuing interest in sacred groves in surrounding European and near-eastern cultures, particularly Celtic cultures.
An active member of the Unitarian-Universalist Congregation of Gwinnett (Georgia), he co-founded both the Oak Grove CUUPS (Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans) and the Druid Order of Three Realms whose mother grove, Sylvan Sanctuary, meets at UUCG. His religious and spiritual path is labyrinthine including ministry in the United Methodist Church, the Roman Catholic Church, Druidry and Unitarian Universalism. He has special interests in language pedagogy, creating and leading ritual, and spiritual direction/friendship, working with labyrinths, gardening and painting, and is a certified and licensed massage therapist. He understands his Earth-centered spiritual path as the way of weaving together all of these aspects of his life.
Also honored with special recognition was Erica Baron, MDiv, (pictured left) for her outstanding service to students in the past year. Nominations are submitted by students who have taken a course in the past year with their nominee; nominees are reviewed and voted on by the Votaries.
“As a member of the Board of Directors for Cherry Hill Seminary, I am proud that Votaries Alumni/ae honor the late and beloved Academic Dean, Wendy Griffin, with the annual Professor of the Year Award named for her,” said Margaret Meggs of the Seminary Board of Directors. “Any Cherry Hill Seminary professor honored with this award may be assured of their value to the students, faculty, staff, and Board of Cherry Hill Seminary.”
In his acceptance remarks, Patrick commented on the unique relationship between students and successful faculty members. “I’ve learned over the years that my students are my best evaluators. They can tell me what I get right, and they can tell me where things don’t work for them. I always learn at least as much as they do. At Cherry Hill Seminary, this has been my constant experience, that each class is a gathering of co-learners.”
Rev. Erica Baron thanked the group by saying, “I love the students at Cherry Hill Seminary so much. You are all so creative and smart and engaged and I have really enjoyed all the time I get to interact with you and read your work.”
A recording of the entire ceremony, including keynote remarks by Seminary graduate, Rev. Karen LeBlanc, MDiv, minister of New Bedford (Massachusetts) Unitarian Church, may be viewed here: https://youtu.be/zvX_CHMx7bI
Votaries Alumni Circle is a membership group which supports and promotes the Seminary, provides social events for members, and sponsors programs like the Coming to the Center public livestreamed program each semester. Its selection of the Professor of the Year is a several-months long process and a highlight of the year, according to founding Chair, Wes Isley, M.Div. “Annual membership offers opportunities for celebration, networking, continuing education, outreach, recognition and service,” said Isley, a graduate of Cherry Hill Seminary who worked as a hospital chaplain in North Carolina before retiring.
Cherry Hill Seminary is the leading provider of education and practical training in leadership, ministry, and personal growth in Pagan and Nature-Based spiritualities, empowering spiritual leadership, scholarship, and ethics through theological and pastoral education to nurture interfaith engagement in a diverse society. https://cherryhillseminary.org/