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Alcorn committed to Diversity, hires prominent Jackson Theologian
Alcorn State, Miss. (September 5, 2013) – Alcorn State University has named a Jackson pastor as rector of the Historic Oakland Memorial Chapel and director of Student Religious Life, concluding a two-year search. The Rev. C. Edward Rhodes II, pastor of Mount Helm Baptist Church, begins his tenure at Alcorn on September 15, 2013. On that Sunday, Rector Rhodes will lead an interfaith service in the recently renovated campus chapel.
“Reverend Rhodes will be a welcome social conscious for our university in the area of religious diversity. He will also expand our counseling services and our course offerings in world civilizations," says Executive Vice President and Provost Samuel L. White. "After President [M. Christopher] Brown renovated the Chapel for use in official university convocations, we got lots of proposals for ways to broaden use of the facility."
Jeremy Mason, special assistant for University Initiatives, added "management of the Chapel will now revert from the Office of the President to the Rector. Pastor Rhodes is an exceptional leader and we are fortunate to have him join the Alcorn family. I am confident that his wisdom and guidance will benefit Alcorn.”
Rhodes, who earned a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from the University of Mississippi and a Master of Divinity from Duke University, understands Alcorn’s commitment to religious diversity and will offer guidance to those of all faiths. As director of Student Religious Life, Rhodes will supervise all the university’s faith groups — the Baptist Student Union, the Wesley Foundation, the COGIC Club, the Muslim Student Association and others.
Rector Rhodes arrives as Alcorn’s population continues to grow more diverse. The student body reflects numerous faiths — Christian, Jewish, Hindu and Muslim, among others. The growing diversity has even led Alcorn’s dining services to offer more vegetarian and kosher foods, a response to student requests.
“I believe he is a terrific choice,” says junior Jasmine Thompson, a biology education major from Canton, Mississippi. "Rev. Rhodes is cool, approachable and accessible via social media. I follow him @RevRhodes. I think he will provide the guidance and support we need. We are glad the president listened to what we asked for and delivered. Our president's focus in students is why I am proud to be at Alcorn.”
The Jackson minister is already a familiar face to some students, faculty and staff. He participated in the university’s 2013 Baccalaureate Ceremony last spring. The annual event brings together the Alcorn family and features rabbis, imams, non-Christian and Christian church leaders reading passages from their Holy books and offer words of wisdom on education.
Rhodes will also join the faculty of Alcorn’s Department of Social Sciences where he will teach courses in philosophy, world civilizations and history while overseeing Oakland Memorial Chapel. The chapel’s programs, which Rhodes will lead and supervise, are ecumenical, interfaith, and non-denominational.
The Jackson minister’s clerical associations have helped him earn a prominent standing in the state. Rhodes is the youngest to serve as pastor of Mount Helm Baptist Church on Church Street in Jackson. He will deliver his final sermon on Sunday, September 8.
Rhodes is the son of civil rights attorney Carroll Rhodes Sr. He hosts the CJ Rhodes Show on WRBJ 97.7 FM and wrote “Thy Kingdom Come: Reflections on Pastoral and Prophetic Ministry.” He is married to Allison Corlese Thomas-Rhodes.
“I have a tremendous amount of admiration and respect for the Alcorn administration, students and alumni,” says Rhodes. “I am delighted to join this great university and it is a high honor to have the opportunity to serve as Alcorn’s rector.”
Alcorn State University is a premier comprehensive land-grant university that develops diverse students into globally competitive leaders, and applies scientific research through collaborative partnerships that benefit the surrounding communities, state, nation, and world.