2007 Alumni Award Winners
William Sloane Coffin '56 Award for Peace and Justice
Will D. Campbell has been called a "renegade preacher," "civil rights legend," "iconoclastic storyteller," "anti-institutional crusader," "hardscrabble farmer," "radical prophet of the South," "Redneck Preacher" and more... The tobacco-chewing, cowboy-booted author of the highly acclaimed memoir Brother to a Dragonfly calls himself a "bootleg preacher." He is the model for the Rev. Will B. Dunn, the voice of wisdom in the late political cartoonist Doug Marlette's comic strip "Kudzu."
Born to a poor cotton-farming family in Amite County, Mississippi, Campbell was brought up in the segregated South and ordained a Southern Baptist minister at the age of 17. He developed a strong hatred for racial discrimination of any stripe, and opposition to racism became a focal point of his life's work over a career spanning more than six decades. Upon graduation from Yale Divinity School, Campbell became pastor of the Taylor Southern Baptist Church in Taylor, LA and then was named director of religious life and chaplain at the University of Mississippi. In 1956 he took over leadership of the Southern Project in the Department of Racial and Cultural Relations of the National Council of Churches. From 1962-86 he was executive director of the Committee of Southern Churchmen.
He was among only four white ministers to escort nine African American students through angry mobs during school desegregation in Little Rock, Arkansas, and he was the only white person present at the formation of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. However, he also ministered to members of the Ku Klux Klan and made a prison visit to James Earl Ray, the convicted assassin of his colleague and friend Martin Luther King, Jr.
Campbell is a prolific author who has written 17 books in addition to numerous articles in journals and magazines. His first book, published in 1962, was Race and the Renewal of the Church. His 1977 book Brother to a Dragonfly, which chronicles the civil rights movement, was a National Book Award finalist. President Clinton honored Campbell with a Presidential Humanities Medal in 2000, and he has been given lifetime achievement awards from the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee and the Tennessee chapter of the National Conference of Christians and Jews.
He and his wife, Brenda, live on a 20-acre farm. Much of his time is spent holding forth in his favorite hangout, a country tavern in Mount Juliet.
The holder of numerous honorary degrees, Campbell earned his B.A. from Wake Forest and did post-graduate studies at Tulane.
Frederick H. Talbot '57 M.Div.
Frederick Hilborn Talbot, a native of Guyana, was elected and consecrated the 90th bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1972, serving Episcopal districts in the Caribbean, Georgia, Arkansas/Oklahoma, and Kentucky/Tennessee until his retirement in 2004. He was a driving force behind growth of the denomination's "Sons of Allen" men-in-ministry movement.
Talbot has had a long and distinguished record of service not only as an AME bishop but also as a pastor and teacher, in the diplomatic service of Guyana, and in ecumenical relations.
He began his career as a teacher of Latin and French in Guyana and subsequently held teaching positions at Payne Theological Seminary in Xenia, OH and in the English Department at Shorter College in North Little Rock, AR, where he also served as college minister. Talbot held pastorates in the Little Mountain Circuit in South Carolina, and in three congregations in Guyana.
From 1971-73 he served as representative for Guyana to the United Nations, followed by two years as resident ambassador for Guyana to the United States. From 1975-80 he served Guyana further as resident high commissioner to Jamaica and high commissioner to the Bahamas, Trinidad & Tobago, Grenada and Barbados and ambassador to Haiti.
His ecumenical activity has included service as president of the Guyana Council of Churches, Caribbean coordinator in family life education for Church World Service, delegate to the 6 th General Assembly of the World Council of Churches in Vancouver, Canada, president of the Georgia Council of Churches, and ecumenical officer of the A.M.E. in a number of locales in the Middle East, Europe, Australia and Asia.
The holder of numerous honorary degrees, Talbot has written three books, composed texts and music for several hymns, and produced a musical CD entitled A Bishop Sings of His Faith.
He holds a B.A. from Allen University in Columbia, SC, the M.Div. from Yale Divinity School, an S.T.M. from the Pacific School of Religion, and a D.Min. from Columbia Theological Seminary.
A naturalized citizen of the U.S., he is married to Sylvia Ross of St. Croix '57 M.S. since 1958.
Rita Ferrone '83 M.Div.
Rita Ferrone is a recognized leader in the U.S. Roman Catholic Church for her pioneering efforts in the area of adult Christian initiation during a time when the reforms of the Second Vatican Council have opened new avenues of ministry for lay people and women. Through her work as a writer, speaker, consultant and workshop facilitator, she has played a vital role in liturgical reform and the challenges of training clergy, parish staff and thousands of non-professional parish ministers.
Ferrone has worked tirelessly on the parish, diocesan, and national levels to promote liturgical renewal and to provide support for adult converts in their reception into local Christian communities. Implementation of the adult catechumenate has been a particular focus of her ministry.
She has visited more than 75 dioceses, inspiring church professionals and volunteers for the ministries of Christian initiation. But her writings have had wide influence on North American Catholics as well. Her most recent book is Liturgy: Sacrosanctum Concilium, in the series Rediscovering Vatican II.
Ferrone also co-authored the 18-volume series, Foundations in Faith, a series of resources aimed at developing parish ministers in the vision and praxis of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. Her book On the Rite of Election was an important contribution to Catholic liturgical celebration.
Ferrone is especially well known for her ability to communicate Catholic doctrines and practices in ways that are clear for audiences ranging from children to adult catechists to professional ministers.
Since 2001, Ferrone has been self-employed as a writer, speaker, consultant and workshop facilitator but remains a team member of the North American Forum on the Catechumenate. Previously, she held a variety of positions including, most recently, director of liturgy at he Cathedral of Saint John the Evangelist in Milwaukee, consultant to the Education Department of the Archdiocese of New York, and diocesan director in the Office of the Catechumenate of the Diocese of Allentown, PA.
She earned her B.A. at Fordham University and lives with her husband, Philip Swoboda, in Mount Vernon, NY.
Otis Young grew up on a small farm near Union, MO, the second oldest of seven children. He attended Westminster College in Fulton, MO, where he received an A.B. Degree with a major in philosophy.
After earning his B.D. from Yale Divinity School, he was ordained into the Christian ministry and set about organizing a new, racially integrated congregation for the United Church of Christ in Markham, IL on Chicago 's South Side. In 1962, he was called to be senior minister of the Evangelical United Church of Christ in Webster Groves, MO. Seven years later he was elected general secretary of the Division of Church Extension of the United Church Board for Homeland Ministries in New York City.
In 1972, he was called to be senior minister of First-Plymouth Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, in Lincoln, NE, serving in that capacity for 35 years until his retirement in 2006. During his tenure, the congregation grew from about 1,200 members to over 3,000. Under Young's leadership, the First-Plymouth church was at the forefront of the fight for equality for women and became one of the early congregations to welcome gay and lesbian people into its fellowship.
Following his retirement from First-Plymouth Church in 2006, Young began work with Sampson Construction Company, a large commercial building contractor in Lincoln, as its Community Relations Director.
Young has served on the Board of Trustees of Doane College for 35 years and also served for many years on the University of Nebraska President's Advisory Board.
In 1969, Westminster College awarded him an honorary Doctor of Divinity Degree for his distinguished work in parish ministry.
He and his wife, Rowena, have three children and nine grandchildren.
Joseph C. Hough, Jr. '59 B.D., '65 Ph.D.
Joseph C. Hough, Jr., has served since 1999 as president of New York's Union Theological Seminary, where he is William E. Dodge Professor of Social Ethics. On his watch, Union successfully completed a $39.6 million campaign in 2004 and developed a strategic plan that has made the Seminary fiscally viable while invigorating academic programs.
Hough played a major role in establishing the Henry Luce III Chair, an important new endowed chair in Reformation Church History and in securing full funding for two existing chairs: The Reinhold Niebuhr Chair in Social Ethics and The Paul Tillich Chair of Theology, World Religions, and Culture.
He began his career as an associate minister, at the First Baptist Church in Clarksville, Tennessee and is now an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. His teaching and research interests are in social ethics, theological education, the church and ministry. Hough is the author, co-author, or editor of several books, including Christian Identity and Theological Education; Beyond Clericalism; The Congregation as a Focus for Theological Education; Theology and the University; and Black Power and White Protestants. He is frequently called on to speak to media and public gatherings as a strong voice for religious tolerance.
Hough formerly served as dean of Vanderbilt University Divinity School and dean of the Claremont School of Theology. Honors include a Doctor of Divinity from Wake Forest University, the Centennial Medal for Distinguished Service from Claremont, and the Joshua Award from the Jewish Federation Council.
He earned his undergraduate degree from Wake Forest University, and his Ph. D. degree from Yale University.
Hough has been married to Heidi Nussbaumer for forty-seven years, and they have two sons and four grandchildren.