The 2018 Drew Theological School Honors

44 students claim 40 prizes.

April 2018 – Intellectual rigor, spiritual audacity and service in the school and community were spotlighted at Drew Theological School’s annual Honors Convocation.

Forty prizes were bestowed to 44 students during a ceremony at Seminary Hall.

“What we celebrate today, what we honor today, is the imagination and the intellectual courage we see in you,” said Javier Viera, vice provost and dean of the Theological School. “I hope that these recognitions continue to light a fire in your spirit to keep your minds sharp, to inspire you to remain intellectually restless and curious, and drive you toward purposeful, meaningful action in concert with the movement of the Spirit in our world.”

Drew President MaryAnn Baenninger also spoke.

“I’m so very proud of our Theo School and its students,” she said, “not just for the high standards of scholarship they maintain, but for the philosophy of compassion and progressive thought that is woven into the fabric of this school.”

Associate Dean Melanie Johnson-DeBaufre saluted those who created and funded the prizes and awards, as they are a part of Drew’s present and future—as well as its past—by helping to honor students. She recognized donors at the ceremony and called on students and faculty to follow their example of generosity. Here are the awards and winners.


Bernhard Anderson Prize – Amy Chase

Endowed by the Theological School Class 1959, to honor the inspired leadership and teaching of the late Professor of Biblical Theology Bernhard W. Anderson, Dean of the Theological School from 1954-1963.  It recognizes a student who embodies inspired, dedicated teaching.

Donald K. Baxter Prize for Drew Community Engagement – Rebekah Forni

Established in 2015 by Mrs. Christine J. Baxter in memory of her late husband, Donald K. Baxter, a deeply engaged Community Fellow at Drew Theological School.  Awarded annually to a graduating Theological School student from any of the degree programs who has made the most of his or her entire Drew experience, by fully engaging in the richly diverse range of events and activities on campus.

Henry L. Lambdin Prize for Excellence in Pastoral Leadership – Matthew Williams,  Nicolle Harris

Endowed in 1989 by friends and colleagues to honor former faculty member Henry Lambdin T’14, ’35. Awarded for excellence in pastoral leadership.

Alton Raynor Prize – Felix Tshibang

Established in 1998. Awarded annually to a second-year student who shows great promise for success in town and country ministry.

The Reverend Florence Spearing Randolph Prize – Orlene Cummings

Awarded to a graduating African-American woman student who demonstrates powerful preaching skills and potential outstanding pastoral leadership.

Jasper and Ann Steele Prize – Yesenia Palomino

Endowed by Jasper and Ann Steele in 1994. For a student who demonstrates potential for ministry in a multicultural community.

Alfred M. Waller, Jr. Memorial Prize – Janelle Ince

Established in 2001 by family, friends, and Mrs. Bernita S. Waller in memory of her late husband, Alfred M. Waller, Jr. Awarded annually for excellence in the practice of Christian ministry to a second-year M.Div. student with exceptional promise and an interest in urban ministry.

Dean Anne B. Yardley Prize for Hospitality through the Arts – Kwang-Il Kim

Established by the Class of 2011 to celebrate Dr. Yardley’s leadership, her dedication to the arts and her commitment to fostering hospitality in the Drew community. Awarded to a Theological School student in any degree program who enriches and enhances the Theological School community by building hospitality through artistic expression.

Special Achievement

The Frederick Buechner Prize for Excellence in Writing – Leif McLellan

This prize is named in honor of the writer, preacher, and theologian Frederick Buechner, and recognizes excellence in creative, nonfiction, or other forms of writing.  The Buechner Prize was established thanks to a gift to Drew from the Frederick Buechner Institute.

The Frederick Buechner Prize for Excellence in Preaching – Sooah Na

This prize is named in honor of the writer, preacher, and theologian Frederick Buechner, and recognizes excellence in preaching and public proclamation of the gospel. The Buechner Prize was established thanks to a gift to Drew from the Frederick Buechner Institute.

Mead Hall Study Circle Prize – Jessica Miller, Sarah Galo

Awarded to a woman student who has achieved an excellent academic record in her first year of study.

Maxine Clarke Beach Leadership Prize for Outstanding Academic Achievement in Coursework – Emile Wayne

Awarded for academic excellence by a Ph.D. student in coursework.

Maxine Clarke Beach Leadership Prize for Outstanding Academic Achievement in Comprehensive Exams – Max Thornton

Awarded to a Ph.D. student who has completed the comprehensive exams with exceptional academic distinction.

Maxine Clarke Beach Leadership Prize for the Outstanding Student-Teacher – Scott Ostlund, Alice Kim

Awarded to a Ph.D. student who has demonstrated exceptional ability, dedication, and promise as a teacher.

Franz Hildebrandt Prize – Se Jeong Park

Established by the Class of 1956 for an outstanding student who has exemplified Dr. Hildebrandt’s qualities by combining deep faith and excellence in theological studies with effective ministry as an intern or pastor in a field education assignment leading to the M.Div. degree.

The Rev. Dr. Clayton Z. Miller T’59, T’75 Prize – Daniel Pettit

Endowed in 2013 by the Rev. Dr. Clayton Z. Miller T’59, T’75. Awarded to a Theological School student who has excelled in supervised ministry and shows great promise for congregational clergy leadership.

Patricia Wickham Prize in Feminist Scholarship – Amy Tompkins

Endowed in 1992 by family and friends in memory of Patricia Wickham T’89. Awarded for overall academic excellence and creativity in feminist/womanist scholarship to a woman student who has completed two-thirds of the M.Div. or three-quarters of M.A. curriculum.

Disciplinary Prizes

Biblical Studies

Clarence Tucker Craig Prize in Biblical Studies – Sharon Hausman, Rachael Phelps

Established by the Class of 1955 to honor the former dean and awarded to the graduating M.Div. candidate who has excelled in this field.

J. Newton Davies Greek New Testament Prize – Yeon Shin, Laura Quackenbush-Steele

Awarded to the first-year student who has excelled in New Testament studies. Established in honor of the late Professor of New Testament, J. Newton Davies.

John Paterson Old Testament Studies Prize – Ha Young Kang

Endowed by family and friends in memory of John Paterson, Professor of Hebrew and Old Testament from 1931-1957. Awarded to the first-year student of greatest promise in Old Testament studies.

George R. Warren Memorial Prize – Olivia DiAgostino

Endowed in 1985 by family in memory of George R. Warren T’28. Awarded for outstanding New Testament scholarship.

F.J. Yetter Prize – Ellen Butler, Jessica Miller

Awarded to a seminary student of the Old Testament.

Lawrence E. Toombs Prize in Old Testament History – Vanessa Wilson

For a student who has excelled in this area.

Church History

Robert Jehu Bull Prize – Rachael Phelps, Matthew Williams

Endowed in 1996 by Dr. Henry O. Thompson T’58, G’64, a dedicated alumni leader, and other alumni and friends of Drew, in honor of Dr. Robert J. Bull, Professor of Church History and Archaeology Emeritus, who brought church history to life for more than three decades of students by leading the excavation at Caesarea Maritima. Awarded annually to the graduating student with the best record in church history.


Annin Memorial Prize in Theology – Ryan Clements

Endowed in 2005 by Anne V. Annin T’00, in memory of William E. and David E. Annin. Awarded to graduating students in the M.Div. program who have displayed both interest and excellence in theology.

The Daniel P. Kidder Prize – Deborah Winston

Awarded for the best academic record in practical theology.

Music, Preaching, and Worship

Lester Berenbroick Award in Church Music – Youngkwang Jun

Established in 2005 by Leary Anna Murphy in honor of Lester Berenbroick’s contributions, over many years, to the teaching of church music at Drew. Awarded to a student who has completed the second year of theological education.

George R. Crooks Prize – Rachael Phelps, Sung Hyuk Kim

Established in 1914 and awarded to a graduating M.Div. candidate for excellence in hymn and scripture reading.

Dorr Diefendorf Award – Yo Sep Nam, Lewanda Miller

Established in honor of Dorr Diefendorf, Theological School graduate and Professor of Practical Theology and Applied Christianity. Awarded for excellence in homiletics.

Rev. William L. D. Lyght T’33 Prize – Christiane Depestre

Endowed in 2014 by Bishop Ernest S. Lyght T’68 in loving memory of his late father, The Rev. William L.D. Lyght T’33.  Awarded to a Drew Theological School student for excellence in preaching who is in good academic standing, with a preference for African American students from the United Methodist tradition, and a secondary preference for students from the Pan Methodist tradition.

Fellowship Seminarian Award – Nicolle Harris

Awarded to a graduating seminary student who displays outstanding leadership in music and/or worship arts.

Alfred B. Haas Prize – Sharon Hausman

Established in 2006 by the Theological School Class of 1957, to honor the honor the teaching of Alfred B. Haas T’36, G’46, Associate Professor of Practical Theology from 1944 to 1968. Awarded to students in the M.Div. program who have made a significant contribution to the worship life of the Theological School and pursued advanced coursework in the area of liturgics.

The Order of St. Luke-Hoyt Hickman Award – Rachael Phelps

Awarded for excellence in liturgical studies.

John Heston Willey Prize – Sooah Na

Originated in 1920. Presented to the student who excels in pulpit oratory and manner.

Doctoral Research Awards

Edwards-Mercer Prize – Elizabeth Freese

Endowed in 1998 by Juanita Edwards-Mercer and her family to honor Mrs. Mercer’s mother, Alpha Duncan Edwards. Awarded to a Ph.D. candidate for travel expenses associated with religion-related dissertation research.

The Priscilla Patten Benham Prize in Dissertation Research – Ericka Dunbar

Established in 2011 by Leary Anna Murphy, in memory of Priscilla Patten Benham G’76. Awarded to Ph.D. candidates of the Graduate Division of Religion for expenses associated with dissertation research.

Helen LePage and William Hale Chamberlain Prize – Dong Hyeon Jeong

Established by Joan Chamberlain Engelsman G’77, and endowed in 2001, in memory by her husband, Ralph G. Engelsman. Awarded annually for the Ph.D. dissertation that is singularly distinguished by creative thought and excellent prose style.

Rabbi Dr. Sheldon J. Weltman Prize for Excellence in Biblical Studies – A. Paige Rawson

Endowed in 1992 by the estate of Rabbi Weltman G’80, ’90. Awarded for the best thesis or dissertation in Biblical Studies.

Reverend Robert W. Edgar for Social Justice – Karri Whipple

Established by Robert W. Edgar T’68 as an expression of his affection for Drew University and his deep concern for social justice.  Awarded to students pursuing a doctor of Philosophy degree in the Graduate Division of Religion whose work connects the academy with the religious, cultural, and socio-political realities and challenges of the larger world, and whose dissertation is distinguished by outstanding transdisciplinary scholarship related to social justice issues.

Robert J. Duncan, Jr. Prize – Marie Vondelle McCormick

Endowed in 2006 by the Reverend Dr. Robert J. Duncan, Sr. T’59, T’71, T’01, and Dorothy Duncan, to honor their son, the Reverend Dr. Robert J. Duncan, Jr. T’83, T’99, the first graduate of Drew Theological School’s Global/Online Doctor of Ministry concentration.  Awarded to a student in the Global/Online concentration or its successor programs whose project thesis is singularly distinguished by creativity and innovative use of technology.

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