Media Contact: Mark Batten
Two graduating students from the Wake Forest University School of Divinity were awarded the Margaret Woodford Guthrie Prize on Friday, March 30 during the school’s spring Board of Visitors meeting.
The Guthrie Prize was established by Wiley C. Guthrie (’52) in memory of his wife and is awarded to graduating students who have a superior scholarship record, promise for effectiveness in ministry both within the school and the community at large, and actively participated in the school’s activities. After receiving nominations of graduating students from faculty, staff, and students, nominees were asked to submit an application and peer recommendation. Recipients were then voted on by the faculty.
This year the Guthrie Prize was awarded to Chelsea Yarborough and Andrew Gardner, both who modeled excellence in integrating academic study with leadership and service consistent with the School of Divinity’s mission and values. The Guthrie Prize includes a $1,500 award.
Chelsea Yarborough, originally from Baltimore, Maryland, has been actively involved in worship arts at the school. She founded Lift Every Voice, a student gospel choral group that leads worship for the school and in the community, has served as a member of the Community Worship Committee, and represented the school at the 2015 Academy of Preachers’ Festival of Young Preachers. In addition, over the last year she has served as the Vice President of the Student Leadership Council. Yarborough is currently a ministry intern at United Cornerstone Missionary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, a spoken word artist who performs for congregations and conferences, and curriculum writer for a non-profit ministry that houses homeless teenagers in Baltimore.
“Chelsea is a gifted preacher and worship leader who will continue to shape communities in years to come,” said Jill Crainshaw, Blackburn professor of worship and liturgical theology. “Her leadership in community worship and the student governing body has allowed her to share her gifts in unique and effective ways.
Second-year student Lindsey Altvater provided Yarborough’s peer recommendation. “In and out of the classroom, Chelsea has established herself as a thoughtful inquirer and an imaginative thinker,” she wrote. “She is known in the community as a pastoral caregiver and friend who models the School of Divinity’s commitment to dialogue that inspires the sharing of ecumenical and global perspectives.”
This fall Chelsea will begin a doctoral program at Vanderbilt University in homiletics. “I hope to contribute to the scholarship of homiletics and liturgy in a way that supports the planning and implementation of vibrant, diverse, and transformational preaching and worship in diverse settings,” she said. “My work at the School of Divinity has shaped me into a religious leader that thinks critically about what has happened and what is happening with the church.”
Andrew Gardner, originally from Yorktown, Virginia, has participated in a breadth of school activities. He has been active in intramural sports, a choral member of Lift Every Voice, treasurer of the Student Leadership Council, and a member of several student organizations, including the Beatitudes Society, the student spirituality group, and Kaleidoscope, whose focus is LGBTQ advocacy. In addition, Gardner has served as a research assistant for Dr. Bill Leonard, Dunn professor of Baptist studies and professor of church history, and ministry intern at Knollwood Baptist Church leading adult education programs. Active in several realms of academics, Gardner is currently working on a historical volume for the Alliance of Baptists and has contributed published articles to Baptists Today and Crosscurrents.
“Andrew is an outstanding scholar, committed church-person, and promising historian,” said Bill Leonard. “It has been an honor to have worked with him during his graduate studies.”
In her peer recommendation, Corinne Causby, a first-year student, wrote that, “Andrew has gone above and beyond by leading study groups for our History of Christianity class. He also shows exceptional promise for ministry with his involvement in Winston-Salem’s overflow shelter and leading educational programming at Knollwood.”
This fall Andrew will begin a doctoral program at Florida State University in American religious history. “Wake Forest’s commitments to academic rigor and communal commitment to diversity has opened my understanding of the field of church history from the perspective of those often forgotten,” he said. “I have realized that presence is perhaps the most important element of being a religious leader.”