Dr. Reiff is an ordained United Methodist minister with membership in the Mississippi Annual Conference and served as a pastor of churches in Mississippi and Georgia from 1977-1985. His Ph.D. dissertation was a congregational study of an unusual inner city United Methodist church in the Grant Park neighborhood of Atlanta, focusing on:
- faith formation, commitment, and vocation in the lives of the congregation’s Baby Boomer members, most of whom had been out of church for years or had no church background at all until they came to this congregation
- this congregation’s relationship to its neighborhood, city, and larger culture
- theoretical and practical issues in the academic study of congregations
Since 1990 he has taught here at Emory & Henry, serving since 1998 as Chair of the Religion Department. He also served for several years as Director of the First-Year Western Tradition program and is currently Director of the First-Year Human Foundations course, part of the College’s new Core Curriculum. He has served in a number of other faculty leadership roles, including several years on the Faculty Advisory Committee and as Faculty Representative to the College’s Board of Trustees. In 2009-10 he served as Interim Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and Director of the Powell Resource Center. He currently serves as the College’s Faculty Marshal.
The courses that Dr. Reiff teaches include New Testament Survey, Introduction to the Christian Faith, Church and World, The Christian Faith in Literature, Ministry with Youth, Church and Community Ministries, and Psychological Development and Religious Faith. In addition, he teaches two first-year courses: Human Foundations and a Transitions I course entitled “Baseball: More than a Game.” He also occasionally preaches and teaches Bible studies in local churches, mostly United Methodist.
Honors and awards received by Dr. Reiff include a Louisville Institute Religious Institutions Grant in 2005-06, several Emory & Henry College research grants, and a Hope Award from Emory & Henry’s Appalachian Center for Community Service in 2003. He has received two awards from the Board of Higher Education and Ministry of The United Methodist Church: a Dempster Graduate Fellowship in 1988-89, and the Exemplary Teaching Award for 2000-01. In 1989-90 he was the recipient of a Dissertation Fellowship in Congregational Studies from the Congregational History Project at the University of Chicago’s Institute of Advanced Studies.
Dr. Reiff’s research in recent years has been in the areas of Christian ethics and 20th Century American Church History, focusing on the response of the white Methodist Church in Mississippi to the Civil Rights Movement of the early 1960s. He holds memberships in the American Academy of Religion, the Religious Research Association, and the Southern Historical Association. Research:
Dr. Reiff is currently writing Born of Conviction: White Methodists and Mississippi’s Closed Society, a book about a controversial Civil Rights statement published by 28 ministers of the white Mississippi Annual Conference of The Methodist Church in January 1963. He has published a book chapter on the topic in Courage to Bear Witness, a collection of essays edited by L. Edward Phillips and Billy Vaughan, and he has another book chapter and an encyclopedia article in press. In 2010 he delivered an invited paper at “The Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi,” the Porter Fortune History Symposium at the University of Mississippi. He has also published articles and delivered lectures and papers on topics related to Christian ethics, congregational studies, and formation and commitment in the church.
Recently directed independent studies by two advanced Religion majors on New Testament ethics
- B.A., Millsaps College
- M.Div. & Ph.D., Emory University