by Claire Toal, staff writer
Warren Wilson welcomes Dr. Brian Ammons who will be following in Jeanne Sommer’s footsteps, serving as the new Chaplain and Director of Spiritual Life. Dr. Ammons has taught classes on high school movies, young masculinity, and has worked with high schools, middle schools, and seminaries. Prior to joining the Warren Wilson community, Ammons was a faculty member at Duke University, teaching and conducting research. Ammons can frequently be found walking around campus with Tupelo the weimaraner.
As Chaplain and Director of Spiritual Life, Ammons will be supporting the various faith groups on campus, and developing campus-wide programs around spiritual themes. He will be working with students of all faith communities, including those who do not identify with a specific faith.
“I will be working towards disrupting the sacred, secular divide—acknowledging the role that our spirituality plays in all aspects of our community,” Ammons said. “Part of what I love about this job is that I get to be both an educator and chaplain.”
Ammons is from Durham, North Carolina and was ordained in 2003 at a church in Raleigh, through the Alliance of Baptist (a socially and theologically themed branch of Baptist Life). He received his masters of Divinity at Wake Forest University and his PhD at the University of North Carolina at Greesboro, where his focus was Curriculum and Cultural Studies as well as women’s gender roles.
“I am always doing work at the intersection of education social justice and spirituality,” Ammons said. “A lot of my work is about helping to connect people, standing in the in-between spaces, and building connections between communities that aren’t always talking to each other.”
While at Duke, Ammons’s research topic was Queerpedagogy as a Spiritual Practice.
According to Ammons, pedagogy is the study of teaching, or the way in which knowledge is produced and disseminated. Queerpedagogy draws from other queer movements and is a process of destabilizing what we think we know.
“I looked at that and brought it into conversation with spiritual practices (which are about orienting ourselves towards sacred mystery),” Ammons said. “My research examines the educational journey and spiritual journey—both dealing with the limits of knowability. I have spent my whole life between churches and schools and have an interest in both parts of my world, which is ‘queer studies, and queer politics’. I am looking for a way to bring the parts of who I am together.”
Ammons feels that his experience at Warren Wilson thus far has been welcoming.
“People are incredibly warm and receptive,” Ammons said. “I have been dreaming of being a part of the Warren Wilson community for a long time. I am grateful to be here.”