spotlight-category: Divinity

Cedric Starr (’12) major, philosophy and theology; minor, classical languages; (’17) Master of Divinity, pastoral studies

GWU Wants to Teach the Next Generation About Christ

“The professors reminded me that I must have an open mind, and I do not know everything. They, in many ways, have strengthened my faith in Christ. They have opened up my mind to a broader understanding of both the scriptures and God. They have challenged my beliefs, and in doing so, have made me a stronger believer. They have given me the tools to study, teach, and live out the scriptures.”

Cedric Starr of Shelby, N.C., came to Gardner-Webb University ready to experience academic and spiritual growth. “I wanted to more fully understand the sacred scriptures in order to better myself as a Christian and as a member of the community of faith,” Starr elaborated.

After earning his Bachelor of Arts in philosophy and theology with a minor in classical languages from Gardner-Webb in 2012, he entered the GWU School of Divinity to prepare for the ministry. “I have always had a passion for theology and philosophy, because I love searching for the truth,” affirmed Starr, who received his Master of Divinity in pastoral studies in 2017. “Before I became a Christian I had a strong desire to understand the Bible and the truths about life itself. Old and New Testament fascinated me since I was a child. Now, I want to teach the next generation what it means to be a Christian, even though I know that I will also continue to learn as I dive deeper into the scriptures.”

He is grateful to the professors in the Department of Religious Studies and Philosophy who didn’t just give him answers, but kept asking questions. “The professors reminded me that I must have an open mind, and I do not know everything,” he concluded. “They, in many ways, have strengthened my faith in Christ. They have opened up my mind to a broader understanding of both the scriptures and God. They have challenged my beliefs, and in doing so, have made me a stronger believer. They have given me the tools to study, teach, and live out the scriptures.”

The professors who guided his educational journey were Dr. Paula Qualls, Dr. Don Berry, professor emeritus Dr. Ron Williams, Dr. Kent Blevins, Dr. Eddie Stepp and Dr. Perry Hildreth. “They were great mentors and have been there for me when I needed them the most,” Starr assessed. “Above all, Dr. Qualls has been the most influential during my entire Gardner-Webb career and still is today. I am so blessed to know such an amazing spirit-led woman. She has become like my second mother.”

The opportunity to participate in student ministry groups also helped him grow in his faith and gain confidence in his leadership abilities. He attended the student-led worship service and served on a FOCUS team, a group of students who are involved in leading youth retreats locally and regionally. “Many of the people who come to Gardner-Webb hold a strong passion for God and many of those people are close friends of mine,” Starr shared. “Gardner-Webb is an institution of learning that prides itself on its passion in serving God and students. The faculty and staff of Gardner-Webb are people who want to be there for the students and help them as much as possible. Gardner-Webb is a school for those who truly want to serve others.”

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