Faculty and students undaunted by the toughest theological questions

May 14, 2024


Pictured left to right: Jonathan Jenkins, Nate Pristavec, Dr. Billy Puckett, Lydia Clements, Dr. Jerry Ray, and Hunter Young

MOUNT VERNON— Over 50 Brewton-Parker College students attended the third annual Lion’s Den on Tuesday, Oct. 2. BPC’s Ministerial Association hosts this event each year where a panel of faculty and students from the Christian Studies department answer some of the toughest questions about faith and Christianity.

This year’s panel consisted of two faculty members, Dr. Jerry Ray, Assistant Professor of Christian Studies, and Dr. Billy Puckett, Assistant Professor of Theology and Ethics. Joining them on stage were four current Christian Studies majors: Jonathan Jenkins as moderator (junior), Hunter Young (junior), Lydia Clements (junior), and Nate Pristavec (senior).

To serve on the panel, these students had to complete several upper level courses in the Christian Studies program and compete in a rigorous interview process against fellow classmates. Only by demonstrating a high level of ability in apologetics and evangelism as well as academic rigor could these upperclassmen obtain this high honor.

This year’s selected students not only demonstrated the necessary skills, but also represented multiple areas of ministry. In addition to his studies, Pristavec serves as a youth pastor to a local church. Meanwhile, Clements focuses her attention on the mission field, organizing numerous trips, both on campus and off. She is currently organizing a trip to North Carolina where students will serve in disaster relief efforts in response to Hurricane Florence. While Pristavec embodies the pastor and Clements the missionary, Young resides on the panel as the itinerant preacher. As a professional wrestler, Young has made it his mission to share the Christian redemption message through his ministry as the Wrestling Saint.

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Students line up to pose their questions to the panel. 

Jenkins, also a junior in the Christian Studies department, moderated the event by directing questions to members of the panel. Those in attendance were encouraged to step up to the mics in Gilder Recital Hall and pose their questions. This year, the event was also broadcast live on social media, and those watching were welcome to text in their questions to the moderator. Questions ranged from the security of salvation to the church’s responsibility in ongoing social issues.

Dr. Puckett shared his enthusiasm, “It is a joy to see our students grow into such capable and confident defenders of the Christian worldview. They offered thorough, compelling and gracious responses to some of the most difficult questions facing contemporary Christianity. I listen to these students and think, we must be doing something right at BPC.”

In attendance that evening was current freshman and Christian Studies major, Thomas Rhodes, who stated, “The Lion’s Den was an opportunity to have questions of the Bible answered, and it did exactly that. I was impressed with the thoroughness with which the students and professors answered the questions that were presented. Once I have taken the necessary classes, I too hope to be a voice on the panel.”

Many freshmen like Rhodes express this same desire. The lowerclassmen are working hard to obtain the same level of knowledge and understanding as their upperclassmen peers.

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Spirits were high as the panel offered insightful, and sometimes humorous, responses.

Christian Studies majors were not the only ones to benefit from this event. Suzanne Hewitt, a sophomore in the education program, shared, “I enjoy going to the Lion’s Den each year. It’s something that many college campuses don’t get to experience, and it’s an amazing opportunity for both Christians and non-Christians to gain more insight about the Bible. This event provides answers about personal questions that you can’t always Google.”

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Hunter (far right) gives his answer on how he knows God exists.

In the spring, students will continue their questions and search for answers during the Defend the Faith Apologetic Conference on February 9, 2019. For this third annual conference, BPC is proud to welcome Richard Howe as the keynote speaker. Howe is a noted writer and public speaker on issues concerning Christian apologetics and philosophy, as well past president of the International Society of Christian Apologetics.

During this one day collegiate and youth apologetics conference, students will continue learn and practice the defense of their faith. In addition, select BPC Christian Studies majors will lead breakout sessions that coincide with Howe’s lecture.

The Christian Studies department at BPC seeks to train students in a thorough understanding, defense, and application of God’s Word and biblical faith. By hosting events like the Lion’s Den and the Defend the Faith Conference, students find the opportunity to apply this training in practical ways. As they graduate from BPC, they will have the skills necessary to answer the most daunting questions about their faith.

Faculty and students undaunted by the toughest theological questions - Brewton-Parker College


The purpose of the nursing program is to prepare graduates who have the knowledge and skills to provide patient-centered holistic care that is safe, compassionate, honoring to Christ, and that meets the healthcare needs of diverse populations.

Mission Statement

In concert with Brewton-Parker College’s mission, the School of Nursing is committed to provide nursing education through the application of biblical truth to promote the formation of graduates who engage in evidence-based practice, lifelong learning, and servant leadership through the development of clinical reasoning, professional nursing skills, and Christian values.

Joanna Phillips-Mock

Student Enrichment Director

Joanna Phillips-Mock is a proud third generation Baron, both as a student and a staff member.

Beginning her teaching career in Middle Georgia in 1995, Mrs. Mock worked with a state funded program that served some of the most disadvantaged special needs students within the local school districts. She ultimately moved into leadership positions within the organization, serving and training others in multiple initiatives. She enjoys working with students of all ages to recognize and to achieve their greatest potential.

Mrs. Mock holds a Bachelor’s degree from Brewton-Parker College, a Master's degree in Education with a concentration in Behavior Disorders, and an Education Specialist degree in Educational Administration from Georgia College and State University. She resides in Ailey, Georgia, with her husband Don, their son Tye Lewis, her mother Carol Joyce, and multiple fur babies. She enjoys traveling, gardening, camping, and attending concerts.

Candace Lilford

Profeessional Tutor

Candace Lilford graduated with her bachelor’s degree in Theatre Generalism in 2021 from Anderson University and with her master’s degree in English Literature in 2023 from the University of Alabama. She presently serves as Professional Tutor for the Student Enrichment Center while also teaching sections of ENG 101 and 102. 

As part of her two-year master's program, Ms. Lilford taught sections of ENG 101 and 102, while also serving as teaching assistant for British Literature Survey courses and volunteering in the university’s Writing Center. Ms Lilford has also presented papers at the Hudson Strode Conference and the South Eastern Christian and Literature Conference as well as working on various theatrical productions.

Born in North Carolina of South African descent, Ms. Lilford has lived in Uganda, Botswana, South Africa, and Trinidad before settling in Mount Vernon with her family in 2016, where she attended Brewton-Parker College as a dual enrollment student. She presently resides in Mount Vernon with her family and spends her free time watching old TV shows.

Linda Armstrong

Academic Advising and Career Specialist

Linda Armstrong earned an Associate Degree in Criminal Justice Technology from Southeastern Technical College and a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Walden University. Throughout her career, Linda has worked with diverse populations, including at-risk youth and families and youth in crisis because of mental health and other issues. Her empathetic nature has made her an effective advocate for those in need. In addition to her professional work, Linda is also is committed to volunteerism. She has dedicated countless hours as a youth mentor, and to teaching about her faith at various Christian organizations. She believes in the power of positivity and its ability to transform not only her life but also the lives of others.

"If you must look back, do so forgivingly. If you will look forward, do so prayerfully. But the wisest course would be to be present in the present gratefully." ~ Maya Angelou

Willie Ford

Academic Advising and Career Specialist

Greetings, Baron Nation!

It's truly a joy to be back in a place that has shaped me so profoundly. I'm Willie Ford, a proud 2022 graduate of historic Brewton-Parker College, holding a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology with a Minor in Education. Following my graduation, I embarked on a journey in education, teaching Special Education within the Vidalia City School District. In addition to my role as an educator, I had the privilege of serving as the Unit Director at the J.D. Rabun Boys and Girls Club. All the while, I was honored to pastor at the esteemed New Hope Baptist Church of Rhine, Georgia. With God's grace, I managed these responsibilities, and now, I'm thrilled and ready to contribute to the welfare of our students, aiming to inspire through service.

Dusty Arnold

Mental Health Counselor

Dusty Arnold  is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Board Certified Behavior Analyst as well as a BPC alumnus. He has years of experience working with a variety of mental health issues including anxiety, grief, and challenges related to Autism. He specializes in behavior-related interventions that can help college students build on their strengths to set achievable goals while also learning how to deal with the thoughts and feelings that sometimes get in the way. He incorporates Biblical values and evidence-based treatments to meet students wherever they happen to be on their journey to spiritual and psychological health. 

Carl Anthony "Tony" Wardlaw

Assistant Student Enrichment Director & Student Success Coach

Carl Anthony “Tony” Wardlaw – For over 25 years, Dr. Wardlaw has worked in leadership, counseling, and pastoring. Beginning with working in middle management for a manufacturing company in Douglas, GA, Dr. Wardlaw has also worked in the academic, nonprofit, public, and private sectors. Additionally, he served over 7 years in the United States Military as a Military Intelligence Officer before resigning his commission as a Captain in the Army.

Currently serving as the Assistant Director of the Student Enrichment Center, Student Success Coach, and Adjunct Faculty at Brewton-Parker College in Mount Vernon, GA, he also serves as the Pastor of The Green Grove Missionary Baptist Church in Dublin, GA.

As a member of the renowned International Gospel Singing Group, The Wardlaw Brothers, Dr. Wardlaw has traveled all over the nation and abroad ministering and singing the Gospel of Christ Jesus. Dr. Wardlaw has served as a consultant for various agencies and has worked as a Fatherhood Coordinator and G.E.D. instructor within the Technical College System of Georgia and participates in local and national civic and philanthropic work.

Dr. Wardlaw holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in International Business from the University of Georgia, two master's degrees from Troy University (Master of Science in Clinical Counseling and Psychology and Master of Education in Counseling), and a Doctorate in Education from Argosy University in Organizational Leadership. Dr. Wardlaw is a Lifetime Silver Member of The NAACP and a member of The Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. He is happily married to the former Mrs. Stephanie Scott. They have 3 Children; Chambria, Marc, and Carleigh.

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