Dr. Merle Strege, professor of historical theology at Anderson University and historian of the Church of God (Anderson, Ind.), recently co-edited a book, with Dr. Michael Cartwright of the University of Indianapolis, discussing Wesleyan-related universities in Indiana.
The concept for the book, Called to Unite Knowledge & Vital Piety, began with a conference Strege attended at the University of Indianapolis. The conference explored institutions of higher education in Indiana that have roots in the Wesleyan and Holiness traditions. The book draws from research presented at the conference and concludes with an overview of Wesleyan theology and how a university such as AU has a moral character that comes alive in the classroom, reflecting the tone of the campus.
Strege is intrigued by the idea of how the moral tone of a campus is reflected in the classroom and in teaching methods. Strege believes the tone of Anderson University is one that is service-based. This becomes evident not only through the many service-oriented projects that take place on campus, but also through the courses offered at AU.
Strege graduated from Anderson University in 1969 with a bachelor’s degree in history. He then earned his Master of Divinity at the AU School of Theology and a doctorate in American religious studies from Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, Calif.
“My own experience at AU changed me not just intellectually, but it more specifically greatly impacted certain characteristics in myself that were not necessarily present when I began school my freshman year. I saw growth and development into new ideas that I could apply to my life and put into my everyday experiences,” said Strege. “I have to stand firm behind my belief that all colleges should not be the same when it comes to the approach to education. Each school should contribute directly to the morality of place. When attending schools, students should have the expectancy of encountering the school’s morality in the classroom.”
Dr. Alan Overstreet, chair of the department of religious studies and associate professor of Christian education/ministry, has seen the way Strege’s research for previous books has enriched his teachings in the classroom and in his position as historian of the Church of God.
“Dr. Strege has a keen interest in the life of the Church of God, both as it has been and as it is now. He has reflected on our life together in a variety of settings and through previous publications, and he continues to have an interest in connecting the church's historical commitments with contemporary issues,” Overstreet said. “His perspective contributes helpfully to a department which values sound academic work and its implications for the church and world.”
Charlie Holcomb, a communication arts major, took Strege’s Christ and Culture class, which was recently added to the Honors curriculum.
“Having Dr. Strege’s class added to the Honors curriculum has been incredible. He offers up complex theological issues for students to discuss, asking them how they relate in historical contexts and how they apply to our lives as Christians today,” said Holcomb. “It is evident in his classroom that he has truly gone the extra mile in immersing himself in the stories and spirit of the many changes our culture as an institution has gone through. He also brings in things not found in books or online. The stories he tells amplify the lessons and make topics relevant and meaningful to his students today.”
— Emmalee Strait is a junior from Anderson University, majoring in communication arts and minoring in marketing. Emmalee is an associate with Fifth Street Communications™, writing on behalf of the Anderson University Office of University Communications.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America's top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, music, nursing, and theology.