When The Reverend Carl McCormack (MDiv’95) was a student at Austin Seminary his next-door neighbor won the prestigious David H.C. Reed Preaching Award, given by Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York City. He remembers thinking, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if this school had something like that?” So when his church First Presbyterian Church, Malvern, was discerning what to do with an estate gift from long-time members and supporters, McCormack’s thoughts returned to that idea.
The church established the Chidester Preaching Award, to be given annually to an Austin Seminary graduating senior who shows the greatest potential in the area of preaching. The prize award includes a $5,000 prize and the opportunity travel to and worship with the congregation in Malvern.
Graduating senior Tracey Beadle was named the first ever recipient of the Chidester Preaching Award. Beadle was recommended for the award from the Seminary’s homiletic faculty.
In a letter from the Session, Charlotte Purdy said that the gift “is our way of helping the Seminary provide new pastoral leadership for our denomination and for the greater church of Jesus Christ.” The Chidester Preaching Award was made possible by funds gifted to First Presbyterian Church, Malvern, by the Chidester family.
For Beadle, this gift “humbles me as it offers affirmation of my call and passion for preaching. It also serves as encouragement to continue to strive for deeper engagement with the Holy Spirit in the preaching process in hopes of continued growth in both my understanding and articulation of the incredible love and grace God has for us in Jesus Christ.”
She adds, “I am grateful to God, First Presbyterian of Malvern, Arkansas, and the homiletics professors at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary for this gift. I thank also Rev. Dr. John Alsup and Sunrise Beach Federated Church for the opportunity, as their student associate pastor, to explore preaching in a nurturing and affirming community. Finally, I am extraordinarily blessed by and grateful for the love and support of my husband, James, without whom I would not have submitted my application."
Beadle will be preaching at the First Presbyterian Church, Malvern, on Sunday, May 15.
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