Each year, Pacific School of Religion honors student excellence in building community, preaching, and ethics. These awards were presented at the Graduates’ Chapel on May 9, 2023.
Koinonia Community Building Awards
Sara Fread, Elizabeth Preston & Janice Taylor
With the Koinonia Award, the Pacific School of Religion Alumnx Association honors those graduating students who have strengthened PSR through outstanding contributions of spirit, insight, and intellect during their time at the school. The Greek word koinonia, which frequently appears in the New Testament, is variously translated as “community,” “fellowship,” and “sharing.”
Marcella Althaus-Reid Award in Queering Religion and Theology
To honor the pioneering theological vision of Marcella Althaus-Reid, Pacific School of Religion’s Center for LGBTQ and Gender Studies in Religion presents an award in her honor for the best student essay on “queer-ing religion and theology.” Marcella Althaus-Reid was born in Rosario, Argentina, and received her first degree through a center in Buenos Aires to study liberation theology in Latin America. With a Ph.D. from the University of St. Andrews, she became a professor of contextual theology at the University of Edinburgh. She also trained for the ministry of the Methodist Church of Argentina. Her first book, Indecent Theology (2000), quickly raised her profile throughout the theological world. With the publication of Queer God, she was at the forefront of a brand new and controversial field in the academic study of theology. She passed away on February 22, 2009.
Michael M. Mendiola Prize in Ethics
Adrian Joe Gonzales
The Michael M. Mendiola Prize in Ethics is awarded to the graduating student who has submitted an outstanding essay or thesis on the questions of theodicy and human suffering or other important topics in contemporary ethics. The award is named for a much-beloved former PSR ethics professor who served on the faculty from 1992-2009. Dr. Mendiola not only helped to birth the Center for LGBTQ and Gender Studies in Religion but also made major contributions to the study of biomedical issues. This award was established at the time of his untimely death by faculty colleagues and friends in honor of his many contributions to the life of this institution.
Freda Smith Feminist Preaching Award
Lahoma Howard & Sundria Sam
Honoring Rev. Elder Freda Smith, the first woman ordained in Metropolitan Community Churches who was known for her groundbreaking feminist preaching, this prize is awarded for a prophetic, innovative, and transformational feminist sermon. Feminist is understood here as meaning advocating for women’s full humanity and well-being (including transgender women). This award is open to people of all genders and gender identities.
Paul Wesley Yinger Preaching Awards
Michelle Winter & Leeann Shaw Younger
The Paul Wesley Yinger Preaching Award is presented each spring to the graduating Master of Divinity students judged to be the most outstanding preachers with demonstrated dramatic skills. The recipients are selected each year by a committee chaired by the professor of homiletics, other faculty who teach courses in homiletics at PSR, and the dean of the faculty. The endowed award was established by Dr. Yinger’s family and friends; a noted United Church of Christ preacher who served as a trustee of Pacific School of Religion from 1962 to 1985.