Facilitating the thoughtful
consideration of a Christian understanding of life and culture in the university community
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.
WE ARE DEDICATED TO ENCOURAGING THE THOUGHTFUL CONSIDERATION OF A CHRISTIAN UNDERSTANDING OF LIFE AND CULTURE IN SERVICE TO THE
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 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.
Michael has written for The New Atlantis, Comment, Plough, The New Inquiry, Real Life Magazine, Mere Orthodoxy, The American, and Second Nature Journal. His work has also been cited in places like The Atlantic, Thought and Action, The New York Times. He writes The Convivial Society, a 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.
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
Sycora Benavides grew up in Jacksonville, Florida, and graduated from the University of Florida in 2021 with a degree in Health Science. 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 2021-2022, and now serves as Pascal's Manager. Sycora also furthers the spiritual formation of our barista staff by leading our Barista Society in shared readings and dinners. Sycora 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 running, reading, singing, exploring--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.
OUR BOARD MEMBERS
KATHY AYRES Bachelor of Health Sciences, Occupational Therapy, University of Florida. Retired Occupational Therapist
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
BRENT HENDERSON PhD Linguistics, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Associate Professor of Linguistics, University of Florida
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
MICHAEL NARDELLA JD, University of Florida, Levin College of Law, Managing Partner, Nardella & Nardella
MIKE O'MALLEY MA Humanities, University of Chicago. Academic Advisor, College of Engineering, University of Florida
MICHAEL SACASAS MA Theological Studies, Reformed Theological Seminary. Executive Director, Christian Study Center
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
KATHLEEN WEINERT BS, Family, Youth, and Community Sciences, University of Florida. Realtor, Keller Williams