Jobe leads with faith, activism
by Andrew Shurtleff
U.Va., Sarah Jobe will head to divinity school at Duke University
to pursue her goal of becoming a minister.
By Robert Brickhouse
the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, when she learned about the devastating
terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon,
Sarah Jobe instinctively felt that people everywhere should pull
together, not withdraw to themselves. She began rounding up friends
and sending e-mails to organize an interfaith prayer service that
drew 5,000 people that night to the University of Virginia Lawn.
all accounts, the candlelight program was a moving experience
that revitalized a deep sense of community among people of different
faiths, races and backgrounds. A year later, Jobe helped organize
a memorial vigil at U.Va. and, more recently, a peace rally on
religious studies major who will graduate with a scholarship to
Duke Divinity School, Jobe has long felt called to promote mutual
caring and social justice in an often-divided world. Its
where Im most comfortable, she said.
spent the past two years volunteering as an intern to help start
a new American Baptist church in Charlottesville. On a given Sunday,
the small congregation gathering at a downtown community center
might include former prison inmates, students and academics, homeless
people, recovering alcoholics, and others of different races,
ages, backgrounds, sexual orientation and even opposing political
beliefs. Jobes duties include everything from visiting prisoners,
tutoring and teaching childrens Sunday School to planning
services, preaching sermons and picking up snacks for church activities.
honors student, Jefferson and Echols scholar and a Student Council
leader, she has a remarkable ability to make things happen.
simply got the most potent and productive combination of brains
and will that Ive come across in a student at U.Va., graduate
or undergraduate, said religion professor Charles Mathewes,
one of her teachers.
Sept. 11, as concerned University officials were considering urging
students not to go out at all, they discovered a cascading snowball
of invitations asking diverse groups not only to go out but also
to come together. Student Affairs administrators called Jobe in,
found out just how eye-popping her e-mail list was and cautiously
went along with the prayer service.
Undergraduate Research Awards
The Harrison Undergraduate Research Awards program, administered
by the Faculty Senate and the Center for Undergraduate Excellence,
funds outstanding undergraduate research projects annually
for current second- and third-year undergraduate students.
work in collaboration with a faculty sponsor to plan and
implement significant research projects that are summarized
in a paper, presentation or other final product.
40 awards of up to $3,000 each are granted on a competitive
basis, with an honorarium of $1,000 going to the faculty
150 students have participated in the research program since
it began in 1999 with funds donated by the late David A.
Harrison III, one of U.Va.s most generous benefactors.
See box at right for the list of recipients who are graduating.
previously organized a citywide service in her native Memphis
that drew national media attention to the widespread support for
women in the ministry.
she discovered the Universitys revered Good Ol
Song was marred at athletic events by students shouting
a chant offensive to gay spectators, she set up a committee to
gauge student opinion and change the trend. The group began an
education campaign about the chants negative effects on
community life and has helped make it a thing of the past.
her interest in religion, Jobe spent a summer in France researching
how ancient cathedrals affected their communities. Then she wanted
to learn how new churches were started today in American inner
cities. She applied for and won a prestigious Harrison Undergraduate
Research Award to define the different models that small start-up
churches are using in inner-city Richmond.
she works about 30 hours a week as Student Councils chief
of staff overseeing some 14 student committees and
takes a course load that has included rigorous graduate-level
her New Beginnings Christian Community Church, Weve
been partly trying to reach people who have been turned off by
church and provide a place where theyll feel safe,
Jobe said. We provide a community where people feel loved,
and that is something we are missing in our society.
an early age, attending a prominent Southern Baptist church in
Memphis, Jobe felt a call to enter the ministry. One of her grandfathers
was a clergyman. Although she has won a prestigious Duke Divinity
Fellowship, her Charlottesville church planting experience
has been an opportunity to learn as an undergraduate some
of the things that people dont learn in seminary,
goal of becoming a minister was threatened in 2000. When she arrived
home on her first summer break from college, she learned that
the Southern Baptist Convention was proposing to declare that
having women in the ministry was
spent the next several months garnering support to fight the proposal,
which originated with a Memphis pastor. The campaign backing women
in the ministry drew widespread news coverage and showed support
for women ministers in all denominations.
Southern Baptist statement passed anyway but isnt binding
on individual congregations, who may still ordain women. And the
effect on the denominations 1,600 or so clergywomen isnt
clear. But the symbolism was discouraging.
radiates both calm and intensity as she talks. Stacks of books
and a tall harp she likes to play take up much of her Lawn room.
Although she has been involved in countless projects in her student
career, from big-sibling mentoring to serving as a University
tour guide to helping organize fund-raising dance marathons, I
dont think of myself as busy, she said. I think
of myself as active.