Transcendent Teaching

Group outside Rita Anne Rollins Building

Students cheer Candler School of Theology’s new Rita Anne Rollins Building, designed with smart technology to increase the school’s global reach.

Ann Borden

Imagine bringing together students from two continents for a seminar, only without travel expenses. Candler School of Theology’s Rita Anne Rollins Building makes that possible with a classroom outfitted for distance learning.

The first Candler professor to offer such a course is L. Wesley de Souza, Bishop Arthur J. Moore Associate Professor in the Practice of Evangelism. His course, Religion, Culture, Society, and Mission in Latin America, allows Candler graduate students to study with students from the Methodist University of São Paulo in Brazil.

Forty-two students, about half at each university, learn to “understand and visualize many of the Latin American challenges to Christian mission initiatives in a way impossible in a traditional classroom,” de Souza says.

When Candler’s Rollins Building opened in 2008, it provided the ideal environment to develop a shared course. All classrooms have a document scanner, electronics kiosk, and one or two projection screens. The distance-learning classroom is outfitted with high-definition videoconferencing technology.

Part of a two-phase construction project, the 65,000-square-foot facility offers a 180-seat lecture hall, seminar rooms for small discussions, and space for informal community gatherings on each floor. Candler also shares first-floor space with the Emory Center for Ethics.

The Rita Anne Rollins Building is named in memory of the first grandchild of the late O. Wayne Rollins, whose foundation invested $15 million in the school’s building project.

Construction of Candler’s second building, which will house the Pitts Theology Library and the Wesley Teaching Chapel, begins this spring on the site of Bishops Hall, the school’s former home.

Candler is such an effective training ground for new ministers that area churches also have become investors in the school and its programs. First United Methodist Church of Montgomery, Alabama, and Dunwoody United Methodist Church in Atlanta, for instance, are naming study rooms in the second phase of the school’s building project.

The senior pastors of these churches are both Candler alumni: R. Lawson Bryan 75T 85T and B. Wiley Stephens 65T.

“Nearly all of our senior pastors and most of our staff have been Candler graduates. The vast majority of our students going into the ministry have gone to Candler, so we see Candler as the cradle of our ministry,” says Stephens of Dunwoody United Methodist.

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