May 16-22 2003
Back Issues
Bond, Morse, Terry win 2003 Sullivan Awards
Advocate for diversity leads by example
Finals factoids
Music major creates programs for local schools

Tragedy spurs Muslim student’s effort to bring understanding

Finding history among the trees
Community through architecture
Moving toward a more inclusive environment
Jobe leads with faith, activism
Exploring vast worlds with Harrison Awards
Harvey blends work, study with passion for civic participation
Designing women sow success
Merging technology, music and art
From one-room school to athletic field
Persistence pays for Ukrainian student
Swimmer sets her eyes on Olympic event
Firefighting ideal job for Jefferson Scholar
Pruett’s ready to deploy, but not to leave her kids
Cancer survivor helps others
Jobe leads with faith, activism
From U.Va., Sarah Jobe will head to divinity school at Duke University to pursue her goal of becoming a minister.
Photo by Andrew Shurtleff
From U.Va., Sarah Jobe will head to divinity school at Duke University to pursue her goal of becoming a minister.

By Robert Brickhouse

On 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.

By 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 the Lawn.

A 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. “It’s where I’m most comfortable,” she said.

She’s 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. Jobe’s duties include everything from visiting prisoners, tutoring and teaching children’s Sunday School to planning services, preaching sermons and picking up snacks for church activities.

An honors student, Jefferson and Echols scholar and a Student Council leader, she has a remarkable ability to make things happen.

“She’s simply got the most potent and productive combination of brains and will that I’ve come across in a student at U.Va., graduate or undergraduate,” said religion professor Charles Mathewes, one of her teachers.

On 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.

Harrison 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.

Recipients 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.

About 40 awards of up to $3,000 each are granted on a competitive basis, with an honorarium of $1,000 going to the faculty sponsor.

Almost 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.

She’d previously organized a citywide service in her native Memphis that drew national media attention to the widespread support for women in the ministry.

When she discovered the University’s 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 chant’s negative effects on community life and has helped make it a thing of the past.

With 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.

Meanwhile she works about 30 hours a week as Student Council’s chief of staff — overseeing some 14 student committees — and takes a course load that has included rigorous graduate-level courses.

At her New Beginnings Christian Community Church, “We’ve been partly trying to reach people who have been turned off by church and provide a place where they’ll feel safe,” Jobe said. “We provide a community where people feel loved, and that is something we are missing in our society.”

From 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 don’t learn in seminary,” she said.

Her 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

Jobe 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.

The Southern Baptist statement passed anyway but isn’t binding on individual congregations, who may still ordain women. And the effect on the denomination’s 1,600 or so clergywomen isn’t clear. But the symbolism was discouraging.

Jobe 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 don’t think of myself as busy,” she said. “I think of myself as active.”



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