Tuskegee University celebrates significance of faith during week of activities



TUSKEGEE, Ala. (January 15, 2012) — Tuskegee University opened its annual Faith Week with a special service in the University Chapel on Sunday. During the week, three speakers will visit the campus for events through Jan. 22.

“Faith week … is the occasion upon which we as a university community acknowledge the significance which religious faith or spirituality serves in the never ending journey toward human fulfillment and wholeness,” said Gregory S. Gray, dean of the University Chapel.

James Earl Massey, dean emeritus of the University Chapel, was the keynote speaker for Sunday. Massey urged his audience not to forget that Jesus Christ is the basis of being a Christian and that faith is not just an empty concept.

“Faith is not just something that we talk about; it is a life principle. It is a way of ordering our steps… a way of using ourselves,” Massey said.

Massey is the author of 22 books and more than 500 published articles in scholarly journals and popular magazines. His book, “The Burdensome Joy of Preaching” was named by Preaching Magazine as the Book of the Year in 1998. He plans to donate more than 2,000 books on religious studies to the university library. He urged the audience to study the Bible and continue to build on their knowledge of Christianity so they may be strong and credible examples.

“Be bold about your faith,” he said. “You have nothing in which to be ashamed.”

This year’s Faith Week coincides with both the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday and the release of the Tuskegee Airmen-based film, “Red Tails.” The current and former chapel deans honored King and the airmen during remarks. Also, a short documentary about the film and the importance of faith was played during the service. Actor Elijah Kelley, who portrays Samuel “Joker” George, expressed admiration for the faith of the airmen and believed their beliefs helped them persevere.

“...That nothing is impossible and it is not over until it’s over,” Kelley said.

On Monday, the university will mark the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday with a service at 12:30 p.m. in the chapel. Edward Wheeler, president emeritus of the Christian Theological Seminary and former dean of the University Chapel, will serve as speaker. He is the author of numerous articles, book reviews and books including “Uplifting the Race: Black Ministerial Leadership in the New South, 1865-1902” and “Black Pearls: Lessons from a Beautiful Black Mother.”

The Golden Voices Choir will hold a concert on Jan. 20 at 7 p.m. in the chapel. Faith Week will conclude with chapel service on Jan. 22 at 9:30 a.m.  The guest speaker will be Timothy T. Boddie, pastor of Friendship Baptist Church in Atlanta. Boddie previously served 11 years as Hampton University’s chaplain. In 2007, Boddie was elected president of the National Association of College and University Chaplains, making him the first black person to serve in this position during the organization’s 60-year history.

Gray said Faith Week can be an enlightening experience for the university community.

“Indeed, no truly ‘educated’ individual could fully grasp the meaning of human history and culture without discerning the powerful ways in which the great world faiths have impacted the human story,” he said.


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