Rebekah Call is a doctoral candidate pursuing a PhD in Religious Studies—Critical Comparative Scripture. Her main emphasis is Hebrew Bible, with a secondary emphasis in Mormon Studies. Other research interests include Women in the Hebrew Bible, New Religious Movements in America, and Gender Studies. Her dissertation will focus on the phrase ezer k’negdo (KJV: “help meet”) in Genesis 2:18. Rebekah has an MA in The Bible and Its World from The Rothberg International School of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and a BA in English Linguistics from Brigham Young University. Rebekah is classically trained as a mezzo-soprano, and remains active musically. She is also involved with Karate-do Shotokai as the secretary and treasurer of the national organization, and received national instructor certification in 2019.
Bryan Cottle is a PhD student in the History of Christianity and Religions of North America program. His dissertation will focus on religion and American politics, specifically examining the history of progressive Christianity from the last decades of the 20th century to the election of Barack Obama. His major research interests include North American religions, Mormon studies, and religion and politics. Prior to entering the PhD program, Bryan received his BA in history at Boise State University and his MA in religion at Claremont Graduate University. He has served as both president and vice-president of the Claremont Mormon Studies Student Association.
Stephanie Griswold is a PhD student in History and Religion. She received her MA in history from San Diego State University and her BA in history and religious studies from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Her research interests include New Religious Movements, Latin American religion, archival and museum studies, Mormon Studies, and family and gender studies. She has served as president of the Mormon Studies Student Association at CGU.
Lincoln Hale earned a master’s degree in theological studies, with an emphasis in ancient Biblical studies and languages, from the Iliff School of Theology in Denver, Colorado. He is currently pursuing a PhD in the History of Christianity program at Claremont Graduate University. Upon completion of his PhD coursework, Lincoln accepted a position as a Coordinator and Director of Seminaries and Institutes of Religion in Southern California for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Lincoln also spent some time in Romania, where he served a Latter-day Saint mission from 1999-2001, with Dr. Patrick Mason conducting interviews for for a chapter on international Mormonism in Dr. Mason’s 2017 book, What is Mormonism? Lincoln has served as the Latter-day Saint Religious Advisor at the California Institute of Technology (CalTech), Pasadena City College, and Occidental College. He is currently a member of the Mormon Studies Advisory Council at Claremont Graduate University. Lincoln’s academic interests include ancient languages and texts, Coptic studies, and Mormon studies. Lincoln is proficient in Biblical Hebrew, Koine Greek, Sahidic Coptic, and Middle Egyptian. He has presented research on topics ranging from monasticism and ancient writings to the formation and deaccessioning of Latter-day Saint canon. He has also edited a Coptic translation of the Gospel of Thomas. Lincoln loves sports, music, and especially family. He and his wife, Anna, have been married since 2004 and have a son and four daughters.
Shelby D. Lamar
Shelby D. Lamar is a PhD student in the Critical Comparative Scriptures program. She earned her MA in Religious Studies at Claremont Graduate University and her BA in Religious Studies at the University of Oklahoma. Shelby’s research interests include comparative scriptures, Mormon studies, gender studies, and North American Religions. She has served as the president of the Claremont Mormon Studies Student Association, the Graduate Student Council, and the Arts & Humanities Student Council at CGU.
Fiona McMillan is a Scots Irish student at Claremont School of Theology studying for a PhD in Comparative Theology and Philosophy. Her dissertation is focusing on the theology, phenomenology and metaphysics of Near-Death Experiences (which includes Mormon visions of the Spirit World and NDE testimonies.) Her major research interests are about the Afterlife also Vajrayana Buddhism, Hinduism, Neo-Paganism and New Religious Movements, Cyber Spirituality, and Altered States of Consciousness and Religion and Multi-Religious Belonging. She has a BA Hons from King’s College London in Religious Studies, an MA from S.O.A.S. London in Islamic Societies and Cultures She has an MA in Religion from Claremont School of Theology and an MLIS from SJSU. She works as an academic librarian. She spent many years married as a Muslim in a remote Jordanian village and immigrated to the USA in the early 2000s under the VAWA program. Her most important life calling is being a single mother to seven children who are now young adults. She is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, but also has associations with Karma Kagyu (Tibetan) CUUPS, and the Order of Bards Ovates and Druids and interests in esoteric forms of religion.
Jessica Spence Moss
Jessica Spence Moss is pursuing her PhD in Cultural Studies with a dissertation focus on interfaith communities. Jessica earned her BA and MA in Sociology from CSU Fullerton with a minor in religious studies completing a case study of the Orange County Interfaith Network focusing on the contact, compassion and dialogue that takes place amongst people of different faiths, religions, and worldview perspectives. While pursuing her doctorate, Jessica is also a lecturer in Sociology at CSU Fullerton, Mt San Antonio College and Chaffey College. In addition, she is the organizer and facilitator of Interfaith Ally trainings at CSU Fullerton. In her free time, Jessica serves on the board of the Interfaith Council of Garden Grove, Stanton and Westminster. She is also a wife and the mother of two beautiful boys.
Mitch Nelson is a current Masters student of Religion in the History of Christianity and Religions of North America Track, also working on the Museum Studies and Mormon Studies concentrations. Mitch graduated from Brigham Young University-Idaho with a BA in History and enjoys studying 18th and 19th century American religious history. His research interests also include religious freedom, missiology, and the historical development of church doctrine. He loves anything and everything that has to do with the study of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Mitch currently lives in Idaho and enjoys being with his wife, Amberly.
Katie Cloward Smith
Katie Cloward Smith is currently pursuing her MA in Religious Studies at Claremont Graduate University. She is interested in the history of religions and how lessons learned from the past can be applied to the present. She is also interested in women in religion, comparative studies, and interfaith work. Katie is currently the Communications Director at the Center for Process Studies (at Claremont School of Theology). When she finds spare time, she likes to sing, travel, and spend time with her husband.
Sergio Smith is currently a Ph.D. student in Philosophy of Religion and Theology. He is also currently pursuing an MA in Cultural Studies. Sergio has an AA in Cultural Studies and a BA in Biblical and Theological Studies from Baptist University of the Americas. He also has his Master of Arts in Religion in Theology with a concentration in Liberation Theology from Yale University Divinity School. His educational interest is in Hispanic Theology, Cultural Theology, Latin American Theology, and Liberation Theology. In the future, he wants to fuse his interest into a Mormon theology of liberation. He lives in New Haven, Connecticut, and serves his Woodbridge 2nd Branch (Spanish) as Elder Quorum’s first counselor, branch mission leader, and stake institute & seminary instructor. Sergio also has dyslexia and enjoys spending time encouraging young dyslexic students to reach for their dreams. During the summers, he enjoys traveling to India, and Latin American serving social justice causes focused on women and children’s issues. You will also find Sergio working among the Hispanic community encouraging young Latinx students to pursue higher education.
Ben Spackman brought to Claremont his backgrounds in Bible, ancient Near East, Semitics, and science. After doctoral exams in American Religious History, Reformation History, and History of Science, Ben is now a doctoral candidate focused on the intersecting histories of religion, science, and scriptural interpretation. His dissertation breaks new ground exploring the intellectual, structural, and hermeneutical roots of LDS creation/evolution conflict in the 20th century. Beyond his dissertation, current projects include both guest-editing and contributing to a special issue of BYU Studies on biological evolution and LDS faith (anticipated 2021), authoring a book on the ancient context and meaning of Genesis 1, and conference contributions, e.g. “Seventh-day Adventist Influence on LDS Creationism, from Joseph Fielding Smith to Ezra Taft Benson” (Mormon History Association) and “‘But I have Better Grounds’: Joseph Fielding Smith’s Hermeneutic in Early 20th Century Context” (AAR.) His other interests include fundamentalism, NRMs (e.g. Jehovah’s Witnesses and Scientology), and the history of education. Ben enjoys cycling and cooking with his wife, a professor in Science and Technology Studies.
Glorianna Tillemann-Dick is currently pursuing a MA in Religious Studies at CGU. Academically, she is interested in the social role of religious ritual, practice, and community and the ways in which those roles are filled in the absence of formal religious belief, as well as theodicy and the problem of evil. Professionally, she specializes in facilitating broad-based social transformation and currently works on US stakeholder engagement at Incentives for Global Health. Glorianna has held positions with Johnson & Johnson’s Global Public Health Group, the New America Foundation, and the Mongolian National University of Medical Sciences. She is a graduate of Yale University, where she studied philosophy.
Christian Van Dyke
Christian is in the PhD program in Religion concentrating on Philosophy and Religious Thought. He comes to the CGU Mormon Studies program with a Bachelor’s in English Literature from Utah Valley University in Orem, UT, and a Master of Theological Studies, specializing in Public Theology, from Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC. Having been interested in the epistemic implications that arise from the religious diversity in America for quite some time, his research interrogates the ways in which competing and conflicting truth claims work themselves out discursively in the public square. To go along with his fascination in the public dimensions of faith, during his time at CGU Christian hopes to begin a conversation within Mormon Studies about Mormon ethics.
Minnie Christine Walters is currently finishing the MA in American Religious Studies at CGU with the hope of re-entering the PhD. program in the fall. Christine already has in her collection of degrees an MFA in Theatrical Costume Design, an MA in Acting /Performance Arts, a BA in Fashion Design with minors in Music, Art, and an Associate degree in Religion. Always up for a challenge, she decided to work on a PhD in a totally different field of study in hopes of combining her historical fashion knowledge with research on historical religious clothing and ecclesiastical garments. Christine has worked as an adjunct college instructor in Southern California and the Mid-West for over twenty years. She is currently fulltime faculty for Idyllwild Arts Academy, a private arts conservatory high school, in the Fashion Design Department. She serves as the Gospel Doctrine/Come Follow Me Sunday school teacher, which has been for the past eleven years (longest calling ever) and works in the office of the Redlands Temple. She also keeps very busy with six grandchildren and loves to travel internationally. She still performs in a jazz band and works on her house continuously.
Brandon Wilson is a Ph.D. student in Religious Studies. His area of research is comparative religion focusing on esoteric doctrines and practices across cultures. He received an M.A. in Religious Studies at Rice University where he studied Western Esotericism and wrote his thesis on the New Age author Manly P. Hall and his impact on American metaphysical religiosity in Hollywood and beyond. He also received a B.A. in Religious Studies from the University of Utah and a B.S. in Psychology from Utah Valley University. Brandon’s current area of research is on what he calls “the metaphysics of the Mormon temple” which is indicative of a “cosmoview” revealed to initiates through their experiences in a Mormon temple. To better understand this phenomenon, Brandon utilizes metaphysicians such as Rene Guenon, Anana Coomaraswamy, Frithjof Schuon, and others to elaborate the revelatory metaphysics of Mormons comparatively with other religions traditions while using the work of Hugh Nibley and others to ground the work of those metaphysicians within distinctly Mormon parameters. This line of research is ultimately meant to get to the heart of the esoteric revelations within Mormonism concerning their views of the origins, purpose, and eventual destiny of humanity in the face of ultimate reality, i.e. God.