Barry McNamara  |   Published January 07, 2015

‘Nones’ the word

Ott, Monmouth College chaplain, writes article for The Christian Century
The Rev. Dr. Teri Ott, Monmouth College’s chaplain, has authored an essay for The Christian Century magazine titled “The Realm of the Nones.”

Her third feature article for the magazine focuses on nones, who are defined by the Pew Research Center as those who describe themselves as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular.” In its latest findings about America’s religious landscape, the Pew Center determined that the percentage who are religiously unaffiliated has jumped from 16 percent in 2007 to almost 23 percent in 2014.

An ordained Presbyterian (PCUSA) minister for nearly 20 years, Ott received her master of divinity degree from Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary and completed her doctor of ministry degree from McCormick Theological Seminary. She served the church in a variety of positions and, prior to coming to Monmouth in 2011, was the pastor of Cameron Presbyterian Church in Cameron, N.C.

Beginning work as a college chaplain, Ott wondered if working with the young would be fulfilling enough after coming from a position where she walked with church members through death, tragedy and terminal illness.

“But,” she writes in the article, “I have grown to cherish interactions with students, and especially with those who claim no religious affiliation. Something about my conversations with the nones feels more honest, more real. … I am stripped of all my religious fallback positions. If I want to relate to the nones, the real Teri has to show up.”

Her article also tells the story of how one student was inspired by Eboo Patel, author of “Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation,” and a leader in interfaith youth work, who visited Monmouth’s campus in 2014.

Ott concludes, “I yearn for my two worlds to come together – for the church I love and the nones I serve to know the salvation each has to offer the other.”

The entire article can be found at www.christiancentury.org/article/2015-12/realm-nones.

With a circulation of more than 10,000, The Christian Century is a progressive, ecumenical magazine based in Chicago, which explores what it means to be a Christian in modern times. Founded in 1884, its early contributors included such notable figures as Jane Addams and Reinhold Niebuhr. A half-century ago, it was the first major periodical to publish the full text of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail.”
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