Each year, United invites nominations for the Distinguished Alum Award. Distinguished Alums are graduates of the seminary who have made a meaningful and lasting contribution to making the world a better place through their work and ministry. A committee of the Alum Council reviews the nominees and selects the Distinguished Alum Award recipient, who is recognized at the annual United Days/Spring Convocation Alum Dinner each spring.
Nominations are open through November each year. The Distinguished Alum has graduated at least 10 years ago from United, Yankton or Mission House Seminary and has demonstrated exceptional achievements and special qualities in her/his ministry in the church or society. Nominations are due November 1 each year.
2014 Distinguished Alums
Rev. Rufus Campbell graduated from United with a Master of Divinity in 1990. Upon his graduation, he was appointed to Camphor Memorial United Methodist Church in St. Paul, where he served 13 years. In 2003, Rufus was appointed as the first African-American district superintendent of the Minnesota Annual Conference. Currently he is the pastor of Brooklyn United Methodist Church in Brooklyn Center.
Carolyn Pressler, Harry C. Piper professor of biblical interpretation and former Camphor parishioner says, “At the time of Rev. Campbell’s appointment [to Camphor], the congregation, torn by conflict, had dwindled to just two or three dozen people. In his 13 years of pastoring Camphor, he built it into a congregation of well over 200, with numerous vital ministries. I can attest to his effectiveness as a pastor, preacher and community minister. He is exceptionally gifted at calling forth the gifts and commitments of others. His gentle spirit, his deep and transparent faith, his compassion and his commitment to justice all make him an excellent pastor.”
Rev. Dr. Sharon Wilson earned her D. Min degree from United in 1994. She has served primarily rural congregations in Manitoba and Ontario. In addition to her pastoring duties, Sharon works as a consultant about ethical issues in the workplace and consults with physicians working with drug addicts. She also works Step 5 with members of Alcoholics Anonymous and coaches high school track.
Lance Barker, professor emeritus of church and economic life, says, “While on a research trip in the Winnipeg area, I visited Sharon at the congregation she serves. I can only report the high regard I perceived her parishioners had for her. Sharon is both realistic and visionary.” Barbara Anne Keely, Schilling professor of leadership and economic life of the church, says, “Sharon understands her call as to be a good pastor and to help people see faith in every aspect of their lives. In the 20 years I have known her, I have watched her model this call, lived out in small, rural congregations and larger city churches.”
Congratulations to Rufus and Sharon!
2013 Karen Smith Sellers ’76, Norma Rae Hunt ’84
2012 Jon Gunnemann ’66
2011 Kimberly Vrudny ’95
2010 Susan K. Ebbers ’78, Rick Yramategui ’87
2009 Howard J. Vogel ’78
2008 Peg A. Chemberlin ’82
2008 Herbert Zimmerman ’46
2007 Paul Olm-Stoelting ’46 ’74
2006 Christie Cozad Neuger ’80
2005 Gene E. Miller ’83
2004 Robert H. Tucker ’81
2003 Gary Reierson ’78 ’86
2002 Kathi Austin Mahle ’78, Ernest Strandberg ’67
2001 Sheila C. Gustafson ’77, Helen Wells O’Brien ’90
2000 Obid Hofland ’68 ’88
1999 John Heinl ’61
1998 Thomas Townsend ’60
1997 Eugene Grau ’44
1996 Marva Jean Hutchens ’80, Gary Miller ’68
1995 Carla Bailey ’81 ’92, Hobart (Fid) Sailor ’69
1994 Martha Ann Baumer ’73, Nelda Lockwood ’51, Alma Stepanek ’51
1993 Vernon Jaberg ’47, Fred Schneider ’43
1992 Theodore Bader ’51, Ralph Ley ’39
1991 John Krueger ’63