Started UPSem 2019: Ryan Atkinson

  1. Started UPSem 2002: Rev. Lori Raible (MDiv 2006)
  2. Started UPSem 2003: Rev. Dr. Ophelia Garmon-Brown (MDiv 2008)
  3. Started UPSem 2004: Rev. Nadine Ellsworth-Moran (MDiv / MACE 2011)
  4. Started UPSem 2005: Rev. Noe Juarez-Loayza (MDiv 2010)
  5. Started UPSem 2006: Rev. Lorenzo Small (MDiv 2013)
  6. Started UPSem 2007: Rev. Ken Fuquay (MACE 2011 / MDiv 2015)
  7. Started UPSem 2008: Rev. Jonathan Davis (MDiv 2014) 
  8. Started UPSem 2009: Rev. British Hyrams (MDiv/MACE 2016)
  9. Started UPSem 2010: Rev. Charmaine Smith (MDiv 2017)
  10. Started UPSem 2011: Rev. Vikki Brogdon (MDiv 2016)
  11. Started UPSem 2012: Rev. Dr. Doug Harr (MDiv 2018)
  12. Started UPSem 2013: Martin Pruitt (MDiv 2018 / MACE 2019)
  13. Started UPSem 2014: Rev. William Joseph “Joey” Haynes III (MDiv 2019)
  14. Started UPSem 2015: Rev. Gail Henderson-Belsito (MDiv 2020)
  15. Started UPSem 2016: Rev. Eric Tang (MDiv 2021)
  16. Started UPSem 2017: Rev. Marina Luckhoo (pursuing MDiv)
  17. Started UPSem 2018: Jason Smith
  18. Started UPSem 2019: Ryan Atkinson
  19. Started UPSem 2020: Sedae Slaughter (pursuing MACE)
  20. Started UPSem 2021: Matt Wiedle (pursuing MDiv and MACE)

The following is part of a series of 20 profiles that represent each year that Charlotte has been enrolling students. 

Pursuing MDiv and MACE
Ruling Elder
Statesville Avenue Presbyterian Church
Charlotte, North Carolina

Born in Shelby, North Carolina, and now living in Charlotte, Ryan Atkinson moved to Greensboro after high school to attend Guilford Technical Community College, studying aviation and liberal arts. Eventually transferring to The North Carolina A&T State University, he graduated with a degree in electronics and computer technology. It was after college that Atkinson moved to the Queen City, heading south to start work for Duke Energy.

Atkinson enrolled in UPSem Charlotte following the age-old advice that seminary is where you go when you have all the questions, not when you have all the answers. It was that deep questioning that brought him to Union Presbyterian Seminary. He specifically chose UPSem because of what he feels is the school’s honest self-reflection and authentic witness. “I choose UPSem based on it ‘practicing what it preaches’ in regards to acknowledging its yesterday, rectifying it today, and assuring a more equitable tomorrow.” The convenience of the Charlotte campus made selecting the seminary that much easier, and the seminary’s commitment to engaged learning has convinced him UPSem Charlotte is the right place. Atkinson affirms, “My reasoning for choosing UPSem has re-formed since I started. The opportunity for us to practice in the field early on what is learned in the classroom is both practical and important.” He continues, “We are blessed to have the opportunity to plant one foot into the academic world and the other foot into the practical world simultaneously early in our theological education. Practicing this not only gives us a front-row seat to the beautiful (and sometimes rather complicated) intertwining of the two, but it invites us onstage to take part.” And, for Atkinson, what makes UPSem Charlotte a special place in his estimation is the feeling of family the campus creates and the attitude of acceptance that pervades that family.

Following graduation, Atkinson senses a strong call to parish ministry and ER chaplaincy. However, he “remains open to the direction of the Holy Spirit.” Ryan and his wife live in Charlotte with their golden retriever and tabby cat.