On Valentine’s Day 1999, I arrived in Birmingham for the first time. Within twenty-four hours I was treated to meals at the Bright Star, the Tutwiler, and Niki’s West. This immediately imparted in me a love for the history and culture of Jefferson County. My favorite way to explore Birmingham is by bicycle. As I began my third decade teaching at Samford University, I began this student project and website in fall 2019.
Since joining the faculty at Samford University in 1999, I have taught courses on Christianity, the United States, and the religions of the world. My research explores intersections of theology, place, worship, and American religious culture. Recent publications include “Protestant Spaces in North America” in the Oxford Handbook of Religious Space (2022), “Secularization and Sacred Space” in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Religion (2021), and “Beliefs and Practices,” in The Future of Mainline Protestantism in America (Columbia University Press, 2018), as well as an essay on this website in the journal Fides et Historia (summer/fall 2021).
I studied American religious history at Harvard University with William R. Hutchison and David D. Hall., receiving my Ph.D. in 1999. While in Boston, I also worked closely with Diana L. Eck on America’s growing religious diversity and Horace T. Allen, Jr. on the history of Christian worship in America. I received my B.A. from the University of Virginia. There I learned from many fine faculty, but especially David L. Holmes. His fieldwork group assignments on the religious and cultural landscape of Virginia are an inspiration for this work. (See Holmes, “Church History as an Applied Science” Christian Century, Jan. 16, 1985.)
For my introductory essays to different units of Magic City Religion click here.
My own professional blog is at www.chasingchurches.com
See my Samford University faculty profile for information on my work there.