Category Archives: Book

John Pavlovitz speaks to Wingate campus about creating a bigger table

Rachael Robinson, Staff Writer

John Pavlovitz spoke to Wingate students, faculty and staff last Wednesday. Pavlovitz is a pastor, blogger and the author of the novel A Bigger Table. He spoke to the audience about expanding their horizons and opening up themselves to new people, with his theory of “creating a bigger table.”

johnMosaicHeadshot
Photo credit: Pavlovitz website

When Pavlovitz speaks of creating a bigger table, he has an image in his brain. The table in his parents’ home. He mentioned that his house “was just an expensive covering for the kitchen.”    

His family started spending time around the kitchen table. As their family and friends grew, they moved to the larger dining room table. He then remembers his father going to the garage and having he and his brothers help add wood to make the table even bigger

Expanding your personal “table” though takes practice. It must be built upon using the four foundations which he calls the legs. The foundations of radical hospitality, total authenticity, true diversity and agenda-free relationships.

Everyone should be welcome, regardless of whether their ideals match yours, no one should feel they need to be an edited version of themselves.  It should be a safe place for everyone and a place to just hear stories. You also can’t be afraid of people leaving your table. People might not fit and that’s okay.

Pavlovitz also spoke about activism. Activism doesn’t have to be standing on the side of a street holding a sign and yelling at individuals as they pass. “Activism is using your privilege to raise up others,” Pavlovitz explains. “Use whatever is at your disposal.”

You could end up on the street with a sign, but activism can be simple. Taking a stand during conversations with your extended family when you would normally walk out or posting comments on social media posts that you think are wrong is enough.Both he admits “may go horribly wrong,” but that’s the point. Activism can be costly and painful.

Pavlovitz grew up in New York. His family was behind him 100 percent and he felt the same way about God. He didn’t realize until he went to college in Philadelphia just how many “false” stories he had been told about the world. He realized that he felt that he was above the people who weren’t like him.

Philadelphia was full of new stories, he felt like a fish that had been thrown into a new aquarium too quickly. He was having all these experiences and felt like he was using new muscles. He realized he was beginning to care. His table was growing.  

A pivotal moment for Pavlovitz was when he was asked to replace the youth leader at the church he attended outside of Philadelphia. That is where he fell in love with preaching. When someone suggested getting paid, he figured he would give it a try. Pavlovitz and his wife would then move to Charlotte, where he would become the pastor of a mega Methodist Church.

During this period Pavlovitz began to have theological questions about the messages he was spreading. He realized that his table had gotten smaller again. He was always surrounded by people from the church. He also began to notice that the only people who were welcomed at the church were people who fit the mold. There were no “marginalized” people.

That’s when Pavolvitz started writing. He started his blog where he could write about these issues. “All I did was speak my truth and I got a bigger table” said Pavolvitz.

Edited by: Brea Childs

Registrar Maria Taylor introduces the One Month Book Club to faculty and staff

Aleah Cady, Staff Writer

At the suggestion of Registrar Maria Taylor, faculty and staff at Wingate University have been participating in the new “One-Month Book Club.”

The club meets twice a week, on Wednesdays at 1 p.m. in the Cornwell Room at the Ethel K. Smith Library and at noon Fridays in the McGee Center conference room.  It’s open to all faculty and staff.

Taylor suggested the idea for the book club to the vice provost, Nancy Randall, after reading the 2017 Christian literature book, “A Bigger Table: Building Messy, Authentic, and Hopeful Spiritual Community,” written by North Carolina pastor, John Pavlovitz.

johnMosaicHeadshot
Photo Credit: Pavlovitz site

The book, which focuses on inclusivity and diversity in the church as well as other settings, inspired Maria, and she wanted to share John’s message with others. “The book teaches a very agenda-free, inclusive, authentic method of inclusivity.” Maria says. “He speaks about radical hospitality, and making people of all backgrounds feel at home.”

According to the summary on Google Books, Pastor John Pavlovitz of North Raleigh Community Church tackles topics “the Christian community has been earnestly wrestling with… LGBT inclusion, gender equality, racial tensions, and global concerns.”

The book has received mixed reviews, due to its progressive, and arguably controversial style. As a pastor of over 20 years, John has been devoted to social justice, and breaking down “walls” between people of different faiths, religions, ethnicities, races, sexual orientations, genders, etc. On his website, he describes himself as “a 20-year ministry veteran trying to figure out how to love people well and to live-out the red letters of Jesus.”

“I thought this would be a great book to open up discussion, and talk with faculty and staff about something other than work. Our student body is very diverse, so I feel that as faculty, it’s important to have open discussions about the differences in students, and ourselves.” Maria said.

She is open to students being a part of the club in the future, and encourages them to read Pavlovitz’ book as well. She is very interested in the idea of  the club continuing next year.

On February 21st, Pastor Pavlovitz will be on campus. He will be eating lunch with members of The One-Month Book Club and discussing the book. That evening at 7 p.m., he will be the speaker for a faith lyceum in the McGee Theater, which is open to faculty, staff, and students.

The required attire for attendance is business casual. He will speak about his book, and his beliefs on “building a bigger table.” All are welcome to attend, and hear John’s message.

A Bigger Table is available for purchase from Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Target, and his personal website. He has a new book being released this year.

Edited by: Brea Childs

Tattered Pieces speaker addresses themes of loss, faith and forgiveness

Leah Joyner, Staff Writer

The Rev. Sharon Risher captured students’ attention with her raw emotion on Sunday morning, sharing how she became an accidental activist when she lost loved ones in the 2015 Charleston shooting at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.  Risher, a native of Charlotte, N.C., spoke at a lyceum event at the Batte Center.  

“From the moment Rev. Risher started sharing her story, she evoked a spirit of passion that was astonishing. It was evident that she was unequivocally devoted to her beliefs,” said senior Tripp Wright.  

Risher described the struggle she went through finding out about the deaths of her mother, two cousins, and a childhood friend on that horrific night of June 17, 2015. Since the traumatic event, Risher has spoken up about gun laws in the nation and about her process of grieving and forgiving the shooter for his deed. Her touching testimony moved the audience to rethink ways in which to engage with people who look different from them and with the hope of bringing a positive change to the nation.


“Reverend Risher told her story as though it happened yesterday. She talked about being in the courtroom with her family’s murderer as though she had only just stepped out for a moment to tell you what was going on inside. While the terrible tragedy in Charleston did occur only two and a half years ago, she gave me a feeling that she would always tell her story like this. She would always relive that day with her heart on her sleeve, allowing herself to once again feel every feeling she felt the day her family was killed in hatred,” said freshman Karah Fleming.  

In her speech, Risher shared stories about her Christian faith getting her through the tough times in her life. Accompanied by her daughter, Aja, she admitted that it took a long time to forgive the shooter for what he did to her and her family, but she ultimately let go of her anger and gave it to the Lord.

“She didn’t try to tell us that her years of following God made her want to forgive right away. She had to wrestle with God about this time in her life,” Fleming commented. “Though I have yet to face something as difficult as what she was forced to face, her honesty about the battle she had to fight within herself to do God’s will was encouraging.”

 Risher has used her story to touch others on CNN, Time Magazine, BBC Radio and other media outlets. She has been a guest at the White House on several occasions when Barack Obama was president. A former hospital chaplain, Risher now spends her time as an activist and is writing a book.   

The Reverend’s conclusion to her speech sums up her purpose for speaking out to students and the public: “I didn’t ask for this journey I’m on. I would rather not be standing up here sharing this with you, but here I am. I hope you have heard one thing today that you didn’t know before. Something that will stir your heart to do something always for the betterment of yourself, so you can bring someone along who may not look like you or talk like you. We share this country and we must be the change we want to see.”

Edited by: Brea Childs

Pictured above: The Rev. Risher and daughter Aja Risher