The annual Celebration of Excellence service honored outstanding student performance and faculty achievement at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Leavell College, May 3, during the last chapel service of the spring semester.
Jamie Dew, president, welcomed the seminary family gathered at Leavell Chapel by noting that while chapel typically focuses on encouraging all in their walks with Christ, this day was different.
“Today we are focusing on just celebrating and acknowledging what has been done well,” Dew said. To those receiving recognition, Dew said, “We’re proud of you. We love you. Today is simply about acknowledging your hard work, your accomplishments, your achievements … and thanking God for what you have done, but then most importantly, what you’re about to do in the ministries God has called us together to do.”
Dew pointed to 1 Corinthians 12 and the solidarity of the church both in suffering and in rejoicing, and noted that it is good to celebrate others’ achievements because “ultimately, it is an achievement in the life of God’s people for His kingdom.”
Norris Grubbs, provost, opened the award presentations by noting that each honoree had fulfilled the charge of Colossians 3:23 in doing their work “heartily, as to the Lord.”
“Each of the people who we recognize today has stood out from the crowd by their outstanding performance,” Grubbs said.
Presented were the Marvin Jones Awards for Excellence, named for longtime Louisiana minister of education, church planter, and NOBTS alumnus, that recognizes faculty contributions in research and writing, church ministry, and classroom performance. Peter Kendrick, professor of theology and culture, received the Outstanding Classroom Teacher award. Ken Taylor, professor of urban missions, was awarded the Outstanding Faculty Churchman award, and the Outstanding Research Professor award was presented to Adam Harwood, professor of theology.
Four faculty members received the Ola Farmer Lenaz Grants in support of their continuing research. Jeffrey Farmer, associate professor of church ministry and evangelism, will conduct a case study on the best practices of healthy, growing small membership churches. Lloyd Harsch, professor of church history and Baptist studies, will research various denominations of Baptists for work toward a future handbook on Baptists in the United States and Canada. Ethan Jones, associate professor of Old Testament and Hebrew, will apply his grant towards research at Tyndale House, Cambridge University, Cambridge, England, for various writing projects. The grant will support Tyler Wittman, assistant professor of theology, in his research on a textbook focused on divine names and titles.
Faculty publications during the academic year were recognized: “An Illustrated Guide to the Apostle Paul: His Life, Ministry, and Missionary Journeys,” by Alan Bandy; “Together We Lead: Integrating Church Leadership and Administration for Ministry Success,” by Adam Hughes and Jody Dean; “Romans: The Gospel of God,” by Gerald Stevens; and William Warren, with his assistants at the NOBTS H. Milton Haggard Center for New Testament Textual Studies, for the completion of the updating of a critical apparatus available in Logos Bible Software and in Accordance Bible Software, a project requiring more than ten years of work.
Receiving the Robert S. Magee Doctoral Scholar Award, given in recognition of academic excellence and scholarly potential, were Ricky Michalski and Kendall Wolz.
Doctoral fellowships were awarded to three students: Jessica Stovall, the Annetta Jernigan Ph.D. Fellowship; and Zachary Miller and Andrew Wilson, the Milton and Charlotte Williams Fellowship.
Outstanding Student Award recipients in the degree programs were: Mariane Strube, Master of Divinity; Austin James McCurry, Master of Divinity in Christian Education; J.R. Walley, Master of Music in Christian Music; Quinton Ross Englebright, Master of Arts in Christian Education; Brent Vastbinder, Baccalaureate Program, and Denise Webber, Associate Program.
The Outstanding Student Awards presented by publishing houses included these recipients: Sarah McDivitt, Zondervan Hebrew Award; Edward Toby Palmer, Zondervan Greek Award; Brandon Emfinger, Zondervan Theology Award; James S. French, Broadman & Holman Seminarian Award; and Ryan B. Graves, Lifeway Pastoral Leadership Award.
Other Outstanding Student Award recipients were: Jacob Robinette, Leavell College Best Senior Thesis; Brent Vastbinder, Breazeale-Guidry Award for Excellence in Biblical Studies; Kelly McCollum, Baptist Association of Christian Educators Award in Christian Education; James S. French, C.C. Randall Award in Evangelism; Caleb Sayger, David and Sue Meacham Award for Outstanding Church Planting Student; Emily Brodt, James A. Headrick Award for Excellence in Christian Counseling; Karen Colston, Daniel H. Holcomb Christian History Award; Tina Tang Angoluan, Outstanding Student Award in Christian Thought; and Shelley Marie Villemarette, Excellence in Missional Living Award.
Five students were awarded the Jack and Juanita Cunningham Scholarship for Holy Land Travel: Thomas Cheramie, Karen Colston, Chris Cummins, Karen Roudkovski, Seth Stanley, and Mariane Strube.
Staff members with service anniversaries of 35, 30, 25, 15 and 10 years were recognized during the service.