The unusual spelling of her first name is not the only thing compelling about the new Millsaps College chaplain, who comes to Jackson by way of Belzoni and Boston, among other places. Ashton, a United Methodist minister for the past 12 years, was most recently the pastor of the First United Methodist Church in Belzoni, Miss. Before that, she served as associate pastor of Crossgates United Methodist Church in Brandon.
An integral part of Ashton's appeal is her education and intellectualism, Dr. Brit Katz, vice president and dean of students of the college, said in a statement: "Her evident intellectual acumen will be a strength in this community of scholars, and I enthusiastically look forward to the mark she will etch into the history of the chaplaincy."
Ashton got her bachelor's degree from Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, where she was Phi Beta Kappa, and then her master's of divinity at Boston University School of Theology. She is married to Rev. Loye Ashton, Ph.D., who was a visiting professor at Millsaps from 2003-2006 and has been at Tougaloo College since 2006. At Tougaloo, he is an associate professor and department chair in religious studies and ICOHM (Interdisciplinary Career Oriented Humanities Major).
Both Ashtons actively promote religious diversity and tolerance. The new Millsaps chaplain has been a member of the Center for Formation & Mission of the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi, appointed by Bishop Duncan Gray to work with the Revs. Jennifer Deaton and Debo Dykes, using a grant from the Lilly Foundation through Millsaps College's Center for Ministry.
The Lilly initiative supports church-related liberal-arts colleges such as Millsaps to establish or strengthen programs that help students examine the nature of "good work," and the relationship between their faith and vocational choices. According to the foundation's Web site, the endowment also helps young people explore Christian ministry as their life's work, and assists the school's faculty and staff to teach and mentor students effectively in the calling to do faith-driven work. (Two Lilly fellows have worked at the Jackson Free Press to explore how people in the workplace use their faith to drive work that serves the community and effects positive change.)
In her role of chaplain, Ashton with work with a variety of Millsaps religious and service organizations including the Campus Ministry Team, a student-led interfaith organization; the McNair Fund for Christian Missions; and C.A.L.L.S.: Considering a Life of Leadership Service.
so, how do you pronounce her name? "Ruth"?
Good question, though I would think it would be pronounced like Ruth. Maybe like Ra-woth?
- golden eagle
I have heard Rwth's name pronounced like "Ruth." She is a fascinating person, very knowledgeable. I think Millsaps is lucky to have her.