Assistant Provost; Professor of American Religious History
Generally speaking, my interest and expertise is in religious history, particularly the history of religion in North America. Much of my research and writing over the years has focused on Anabaptist history and life, particularly Old Order Amish life. Among my books are Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy (Jossey-Bass, 2007), a book that examines the Amish response to the 2006 Nickel Mines school shooting; The Amish Way: Patient Faith in a Perilous World (Jossey-Bass, 2010), and Martyrs Mirror: A Social History (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2016).
As a Messiah undergrad, I was a chemistry major. My plans at the time were to become a medical doctor, but after being accepted to medical school, I decided to take a gap year to attend seminary. To make a long story short, I never went to medical school; rather, I completed my seminary degree, pastored for five years, and then pursued graduate work in religious history.
I teach a variety of courses in the areas of religious history, contemporary religion, and Christian theology, including History of Christianity, Christianity in the North America, Religious Pluralism in America, Theology and American Culture, and Anabaptist Theology. One of my favorite courses to teach is First Year Seminar that focuses on Amish life and culture.
I’ve taught at Messiah College since 1997, when I completed my doctorate in American religious history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Moving from North Carolina to Grantham was a “coming home” of sorts, returning to the college where I had done my undergraduate work, worked in student government, and played on the baseball team. In 2022, I accepted a half-time role in the Provost’s Office, so I now split my time between Boyer Hall, where I teach, and Old Main, where I work on a variety of administrative projects.
My life away from Messiah College revolves around my family, which includes my wife Valerie, an acquisitions at Broadleaf Books, and three boys—Samuel (21), Isaiah (19), and Henry (17). We’ve been a baseball family for many years, which means I’ve probably thrown 150,000 batting practice pitches over the past fifteen years. We’ve also done a lot of camping and hiking as a family, and have especially enjoyed doing that in the U.S. National Parks (Acadia, Glacier, Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons, and Arches). We attend the Slate Hill Mennonite Church in Camp Hill.