“Be transformed by the renewal of your mind” (Romans 12:2b)
Our task in the Department of Religion is to engage students in information gathering and critical thinking for the purpose of helping our students to discern their call while preparing to fulfill their vocation in life. We believe that faith transforms lives and therefore we desire to help our students intentionally engage in the process of spiritual formation. Our program is founded on the truth that spiritual formation helps us begin to realize that who we are is as important as what we do. Therefore, integrated into the entire religion curriculum is a process of assisting students in first discovering who they are in Christ and then guiding them in the process of discerning and preparing for God’s call towards their vocation.
Our task then is not just to inform students, but also to give opportunity for students to be formed spiritually. Spiritual formation reflects the commitment of the religion faculty to address the whole person — body, mind, and spirit. Our faculty is equally committed to your intellectual and spiritual development. We are the only undergraduate institution offering spiritual formation as an integral component of our program.
CLASSES TAILORED TO YOU
At the University of Mount Olive, you’ll get the personal attention that you deserve so you get the most out of every course. Classes are small and taught by professors who want to see each student develop into their personal best. In our major classes, the student to faculty ratio is no greater than 15:1, allowing for personal interaction between students and their professor.
OPTIONS FOR RELIGION MAJORS
- Bachelor of Arts: Religion
- Bachelor of Science: Religion, Religious Studies Major
- Bachelor of Applied Science: Religion
We offer a balance of courses in four program areas:
- Biblical Studies
- Theological Studies
- Historical Studies
- Applied Studies
OPPORTUNITIES FOR STUDENT ENRICHMENT
- STF: Students Theological Fellowship
- Service Projects
- Vivian B. Harrison Memorial Lecture
- Off campus lectures at seminaries and divinity schools
- Free Will Baptist Historical Collection
SCHOLARSHIPS & AWARDS
In addition to other sources of funding, the following scholarships and awards may be available to qualified students:
OFWB MINISTERIAL SCHOLARSHIP
Students who are licensed or ordained in the Original Free Will Baptist Church receive 90% tuition assistance provided they meet and maintain mutually agreed upon academic and communal standards.
FREE WILL BAPTIST MINISTERIAL AWARD
A scholarship given by the North Carolina Ministerial Association of Original Free Will Baptists to an outstanding returning Free Will Baptist student who has demonstrated potential for excellence in the Christian ministry. The student is selected by a committee designated by the Ministerial Association.
W. BURKETTE RAPER OUTSTANDING STUDENT IN RELIGION AWARD
An award given to an outstanding graduating ministerial student on the basis of academic excellence and evidence of commitment to the Christian ministry.
WHAT OUR GRADUATES ARE DOING NOW
Graduate School in Religion. Our graduates have gone on to study further at places such as:
- Duke University Divinity School
- Claremont Graduate University
- Claremont School of Theology
- Union Presbyterian Seminary
- Washington Theological Union
- Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary
- Brite Divinity School
- Asbury Theological Seminary
- Campbell University Divinity School
- Gardner-Webb University School of Divinity
- Baptist Seminar at Richmond
As part of the liberal arts curriculum, studying religion helps cultivate the skills needed to succeed in almost any career path.
- Ministers in local churches: Pastors, Associates, and other ministry positions
- College instructors (with additional education at seminary)
- Mission work
- Teaching in secondary schools (private)
- Parachurch ministries (Such as United Way, Habitat for Humanity, and others)
The Department of Religion has highly qualified faculty who are committed to responsible biblical and theological scholarship with a corresponding commitment to preparation for effective ministry and/or further academic study
TYANNA YONKERS, D.MIN., PH.D., PROFESSOR OR RELIGION
Dr. Yonkers has been teaching at Mount Olive since 1995. Though she teaches an array of courses, her primary area of academic interest is Spirituality. She holds a BA in Special Education from Hood College, an M.Div. with a focus in Christian Education from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a D.Min. in Spirituality from Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond. She holds a PH.D. in the area of Spirituality from The Catholic University of America, in Washington, D. C. Dr. Yonkers is also an ordained minister and is currently filling the pulpits of various churches and denominations upon request. She is also available for presenting a variety of programs and studies.
NEAL COX, M.DIV., D. MIN., ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF RELIGION, CHAIR OF THE RELIGION DEPARTMENT
Dr. Cox brings a deep pastoral interest to his teaching at Mount Olive. A religion graduate of University of Mount Olive, Prof. Cox holds an M.Div. from Duke University Divinity School, and a Certificate in Baptist Studies from Duke University’s Baptist House of Studies. He holds a D. Min. from Campbell University Divinity School in the area of Ecclesiology and Christian Community building. He serves as the Senior Pastor of Wintergreen Original Free Will Baptist Church — a position he has held since 1999.
Tyanna Yonkers, D.Min., Ph.D., Associate Professor of Religion
Dr. Yonkers is the Chair of the Mount Olive Religion Department. She has been teaching at Mount Olive since 1995. Though she teaches an array of courses, her primary area of academic interest is Spirituality. She holds a BA in Special Education from Hood College, an M.Div. with a focus in Christian Education from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a D.Min. in Spirituality from Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond. She is currently finishing her dissertation in the area of Spirituality at The Catholic University of America, in Washington, D. C. Dr. Yonkers is also an ordained minister and is currently serving as the stated supply pastor for Holly Grove Presbyterian Church, a position she has held since 2001.
JOHN BLACKWELL, D. MIN., PH.D., ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF RELIGION, BARROW CHAIR OF BIBLICAL STUDIES
Dr. Blackwell received his Ph.D. from Arizona State University and his D.Min. from the Claremont School of Theology. In addition to teaching in the departments of religion and the honors program, Dr. Blackwell is the author of eight books, the latest of which is Origin of My Birthplace. He also is the director of the Barrow Center for Church Leadership. John leads a team of individuals to fulfill a grant offered to the University by the Lilly Foundation to teach theology to young persons while helping them begin the process of discerning their call to Christian vocational service.
THE REVEREND CARLA WILLIAMSON, M.DIV., CAMPUS CHAPLAIN, INSTRUCTOR OF RELIGION
Carla Williamson is a 2004 graduate of University of Mount Olive where she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Religion and minored in Christian Education. Carla earned her Master of Divinity from the Duke University Divinity School in 2008. She earned 2000 hours of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) through a CPE Internship and Resident program at Rex Healthcare in Raleigh North Carolina. Carla is currently pursuing her D. Min. at Campbell University Divinity School. She has served University of Mount Olive as an adjunct instructor in the evening program for adult learners and has served as an instructor in the Adult Education program at Johnston Community College. She has served congregations and the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists in numerous ways, including the authorship of Sunday school literature for the OFWB Press as well as literature for children’s programs. Her husband, Aubrey Williamson, is also a graduate of University of Mount Olive ’04 and is the pastor of Saint Mary’s Grove Church in the Cape Fear Conference, where he serves as moderator and on the ordaining council. Carla and Aubrey have three adult sons: Charles and Phillip both of the home and students at Johnston Community College and Bryan, a ’04 graduate of University of Mount Olive.