The Christian Study Center brings together students, faculty, and community members to explore the intellectual and cultural resources of the Christian tradition. Drawing on these resources we engage at the highest levels of scholarship in order to address enduring human questions and respond to challenges created by contemporary culture.
While the center’s guests represent a broad range of viewpoints, the Study Center roots its work in the Christian faith as articulated in the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments and as summarized in the early creeds of the Christian Church.
In keeping with its Christian commitment, the Study Center takes a conversational approach to its educational program and promotes academic freedom. We seek to enlarge and extend conversations rather than narrow or end them, and we gladly share our lectern with those who share our questions — whether or not they share our Christian commitments.
The Study Center supports higher education, affirms critical thinking, works collaboratively with the University of Florida, and seeks to contribute to the intellectual life of the university community. In all it does the Study Center promotes human flourishing and serves the common good.
The Christian Study Center was conceptualized by a group of Christian academics in Gainesville, Florida. Representing a spectrum of denominational backgrounds, their desire was to see a center introduced to the university community which would bring together faculty, students, clergy, and community members to explore the intellectual and cultural resources of the Christian tradition and to cultivate an on-going conversation about how the Christian tradition might contribute to the life of the university in ways that are both challenging and enriching. Drawing on these resources we engage at the highest levels of scholarship in order to understand contemporary cultural change and address enduring human questions. While the center’s guests represent a broad range of viewpoints, the Study Center roots its work in the Christian faith as articulated in the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments and as summarized in the early creeds of the Christian Church. The Study Center seeks to enlarge conversations, promote human flourishing and serve the common good.
DR. RICHARD V. HORNER
In 2001 Dr. Horner moved from the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture in Charlottesville, Virginia, to become the first Director of the Christian Study Center of Gainesville. Richard has his M.Div. from Covenant Theological Seminary and his Ph.D. in modern intellectual history from the University of Virginia. He has pastored churches in Pennsylvania, Delaware and Virginia and has taught as an adjunct lecturer at the University of Delaware, James Madison University, the University of Florida, and Reformed Theological Seminary. His wife April has a MS in Pyschiatric Nursing from the University of Virginia, and has served for forty years, first as a psychiatric nurse and then as a home care nurse for Haven Hospice. Richard and April have three children. Their daughter Rachel (UF 2008) and her husband Dave live in Greenville, SC, where Rachel works as an interior designer and cares for Richard and April’s two grand daughters. Their son Ken (UCF 2011) works as an engineer with Aecom in Washington DC, and their daughter Jenna (UF 2014) is well known locally as a both a mural artist and popular Yoga instructor.
Associate Director for Educational Programming
Michael Sacasas earned his MA in Theological Studies from Reformed Theological Seminary in 2002. He was later a doctoral candidate at the University of Central Florida studying the relationship between technology and society with a particular focus on the work of Hannah Arendt. Along the way he has taught in a variety of settings, served as a school administrator, and written extensively on technology and society. He is an Associate Fellow in Ethics and Culture at the Greystone Theological Institute and, for three years, directed Greystone’s Center for the Study of Ethics and Technology.
Michael has written for The New Atlantis, The New Inquiry, Real Life Magazine, Mere Orthodoxy, Rhizomes, The American, and Second Nature Journal. His work has also been cited in places like The Atlantic, Thought and Action, The New York Times, and at least one book by a former vice-president. He writes The Convivial Society, a regular newsletter on technology and society. Michael and Sarah have been married since 2008 and are currently delighted and exhausted by the task of raising their two young daughters, Margaret and Elizabeth.
After wondering what she was going to do with the rest of her life, Nora jumped at the chance to volunteer in the office of the fledgling Study Center in the summer of 2001. When they offered to pay her for doing what she loved, she gladly accepted becoming part time in 2002 and full time in 2005. She has three grown children and three delightful grandchildren. In her spare time she enjoys genealogy research, creating quilts, DIY projects, photography and trying to teach her cats, Jack and Zoe, to shake hands.
Director of Development
Laura, along with her husband Jay, had the privilege to help prepare for and begin the Christian Study Center of Gainesville in 2000. Early on she served as building manager, volunteer recruiter, prayer team leader, and publicity hound. She continues to promote the Center in churches and small groups, through the newsletter, Under Consideration, the quarterly prayer letter, and through special events such as our 10 year anniversary and alumni reunion. Laura serves as a part-time, pro bono director of development. Laura has four grown children and three grandsons.
Manager, Pascal's Coffeehouse
Lauren grew up in Orlando, Florida, and graduated from the University of Florida in 2017 with a degree in Family, Youth and Community Sciences. While still an undergraduate she joined the staff of the Christian Study Center of Gainesville as a barista in Pascal’s Coffeehouse, served as Assistant Manager in 2017-18, and now serves as Pascal's Manager. As Manager Lauren drives the Study Center's initiatives in hospitality including everything from preparing meals for center events to building our barista community and serving our neighbors by cultivating a high level of coffee craft. Lauren also furthers the spiritual formation of our barista staff by leading our Barista Society in shared readings and dinners. Lauren views Pascal’s Coffeehouse as the embodiment of the understanding of life that the Study Center seeks to explore. She loves creating communities that thrive, and she also enjoys hosting, cooking, hiking, running, singing, traveling--and really anything fun.
RUTHIE JO POPP
Ruthie Jo Popp grew up on a farm in central Illinois, received her BA in Biblical Studies from Wellesley College, and her MBA from Babson College. With a CPA license she has worked for 14 years in public accounting, the last 6 years specializing in not-for-profit audits. She has been the accountant for the Christian Study Center in Gainesville since 2005. She is married with 3 grown children. On free weekends, she and her husband, Mick, enjoy visiting their daughters in Jacksonville and St. Augustine. When time allows, they visit their son and daughter-in-law in Houston, Texas. Ruthie Jo is active in her church and also likes to read, knit, do Sudoku puzzles, travel, and cruise.
Having been hired to his position as custodian three months prior to Dr. Horner's arrival in 2001, Terry enjoys the honor of being the longest tenured employee of the Study Center. Originally from Lake City, he has lived in Gainesville throughout his adult life. Terry loves to sing while he works, and when it comes to music, he is as ready to talk to you about Bach as about Miles Davis. He can also occasionally be found sitting at one of the tables in Pascal's reading the dictionary for knowledge and pleasure. Terry lives by the Golden Rule and loves and enjoys people. He especially "enjoys being surrounded by the wonderful people he works with, namely Study Center board members, staff, baristas, students, and all associated."
Hannah volunteers at the CSC doing light maintenance and handyman duties. When she was a student at UF almost 20 years ago, she frequented the CSC daily to study and meet with other students. Later, she became one of the first baristas when Pascal’s first opened. Hannah currently work as a Park Ranger at Sweetwater Wetlands Park and a Wildlife Technician for the FL Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission. Hannah and her husband still enjoy participating in classes and attending lectures at the CSC.
OUR BOARD MEMBERS
JEFF ANDRE MA Elementary Education, University of Florida. 6th grade teacher, The Geneva School, Winter Park, FL
NICK DUNN BA History, University of Florida. Assistant Director for Training, Operations, and Programs, Office of International Student and Scholar Services, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
ERNESTO ESCOTO PhD Counseling Psychology, New Mexico State University. Director, Clinical Assistant Professor, Counseling and Wellness Center, University of Florida
LAURIE GODDARD MEd/EdS Marriage and Family Therapy, University of Florida. Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
SARAH HAMERSMA PhD Economics, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Associate Professor of Public Administration and International Affairs, Syracuse University; Senior Research Associate, Center for Policy Research, Syracuse University
BRENT HENDERSON PhD Linguistics, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Associate Professor of Linguistics, University of Florida
RICHARD HORNER MDiv, Covenant Seminary; PhD History, University of Virginia. Executive Director, Christian Study Center of Gainesville
JAY LYNCH MD from Eastern Virginia Medical School. Assistant Dean for Admissions and Professor of Medicine in Hematology Oncology, College of Medicine, University of Florida
MIKE O'MALLEY MA Humanities, University of Chicago. Academic Advisor, College of Engineering, University of Florida
TIM SCHUBERT PhD Plant Pathology, University of Missouri-Columbia. Retired. Formerly, Administrator, Plant Pathology Section, Division of Plant Industry, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
KATE SMITH PharmD, University of Minnesota. Clinical Assistant Professor, College of Pharmacy, University of Florida