The ongoing generosity of Candler’s alumni and friends creates opportunities for current and future students to be transformed by a Candler education, and then use their experience and knowledge in service to God, the church, and the world. We are grateful to our partners who strengthen our mission, and are pleased to highlight some of the remarkable gifts of the past few years that are inspiring innovation and advancing excellence in our community.

Meet Your Candler Alumni Board

The Candler Alumni Board (CAB) works collaboratively with Candler’s administration, faculty, staff, students, and alumni to assist strategic efforts of the school in the areas of development, recruitment, lifelong learning, student programming, and leadership formation. Members prayerfully and financially support Candler and provide a representative alumni body that advises the Candler Alumni Association.

Current CAB members are:

The Rev. Susannah Davis 95T, Chair
The Rev. Dr. Dedric Amad Cowser 11T 17T, Vice Chair
The Rev. Nathan William Attwood 02T
The Rev. Dr. Emory Berry, Jr. 06T
The Rev. John Sherrod Boggs 79T
The Rev. Thomas William Dyer 08T
The Rev. R. Lee Fullerton 74T
The Rev. Brandon Harris 16T
The Rev. Stacey Irene Harwell-Dye 10T
The Rev. Juan Carlos Huertas 05T
The Rev. Dr. Ricky James 17T
The Rev. Susan P. Leonard-Ray 89T
The Rev. Dr. Jay F. Smith 88T
The Rev. Richard Mosson Weinberg 17T
The Rev. Guhyun Kwon 06T, Ex Officio
The Rev. William Joseph Conner 12T, Ex Officio, Nominating Committee Chair

Building Lasting Legacies

Candler has been honored with two generous gifts from emeriti faculty that will benefit the growth of religious education and Methodist studies at the school for years to come.

Courtesy Biola UniversityProfessor Emeritus of Religion and Education Chuck Foster and his wife, Janet, have established the Charles R. and Janet T. Foster Endowment for Engaging Religion and Education in Forming and Transforming Faith Communities and Public Life. This endowment will support the field of religious education at Candler, including initiatives preparing youth, seminary students, clergy, and scholars for leadership in theologically grounded educational ministries of ecclesial and public formation and transformation. Foster taught at Candler from 1988 to 2001, serving as director of the Christian education program, associate dean for faculty development, and interim dean (1999-2000). He also taught in Emory’s Graduate Division of Religion and chaired the organizational team behind Candler’s Youth Theological Initiative (YTI), now in its 27th year.

Photo credit: Cindy Brown 09TDean Emeritus and William R. Cannon Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Church History Russ Richey and his wife, Merle, have established the Russell E. and Merle Umstead Richey Professorship in Methodist and Wesleyan Studies, which will provide support for a faculty professorship. Richey has made enormous contributions to Methodism in his lifetime through both the church and the academy. He has authored, co-authored, or co-edited some 20 books on the denomination, as well as dozens of articles and reviews, and served as principal writer of the report of the UMC Task Force to Study the Episcopacy, which included recommendations to assist bishops in providing visionary leadership.

“We are thrilled that two of Candler’s most beloved and revered faculty members have chosen to invest in the school in this way,” says Dean Jan Love. “Chuck Foster and Russ Richey both had stellar Candler careers, and their legacies are only further enhanced by their generosity in supporting future generations of Candler students and faculty.”

Partnering in Possibility

Candler is committed to making seminary affordable by offering one of the most robust financial aid programs in theological education. In 2018-19, the school awarded $6.3 million in financial aid, with 95 percent of all students and 100 percent of master of divinity students receiving scholarship assistance. And this year, we’ve expanded the financial aid program even more—read about it in the News section of this issue. The possibilities continue to grow thanks to generous gifts such as these:

  • Four new scholarships covering tuition plus a stipend were created by a gift from an anonymous donor. The Dean’s Scholarship recipient is selected each year by the dean, while three Faculty Scholarships include faculty in the selection process.
  • In partnership with another anonymous donor, Candler established a permanently funded scholarship endowment to support students called to serve as Methodist Army Chaplains, with secondary consideration given to students called to serve as Methodist Navy Chaplains.
  • The Confluence Scholarship Endowment has been established with a gift from Shannon Mayfield 17T and Kristy Mayfield to provide financial support for first-generation graduate students in Candler’s MDiv program, one each from a rural and urban area. This gift enhances Candler’s ongoing dedication to the vital work of anti-racism by bringing together students from diverse backgrounds.
  • Photo credit: Orlando Evans 19T/Bowtie PhotosKaren Webster Parks 16T and Kenneth Parks established the Karen Elaine Webster Parks and Kenneth D. Parks Endowment to provide stipends for students enrolled in Candler’s master of religion and public life degree program.
  • The E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation has funded six cohorts of incoming master of divinity students identified as Carpenter Scholars in Community Engagement. Selection is based on proven academic excellence and a deep passion for social transformation.

The photo of happy 2019 graduates who received scholarships confirms it—these gifts and others like them make a huge difference!

Honoring Singular Commitment

Across the last few years, Dean Love has conferred the Candler Dean’s Medal on eight of our most steadfast supporters in recognition of their singular commitment and contributions to Candler.  We give thanks for the ways these individuals have transformed Candler and its students, and in doing so, have helped to transform the world. 

Mary and Jim Wesley were awarded the Dean’s Medal in January 2016. The Wesleys—faithful United Methodist laypeople, civic leaders, philanthropists, and visionaries—established two scholarship endowments providing financial support for master of divinity and doctor of ministry students. They also directed a gift to name the Wesley Teaching Chapel in honor of the 11 members of Mary’s family who entered Christian ministry. Mary Wesley died only a month after receiving the medal. The Candler community celebrates her memory and gives thanks for all she and Jim have done for Candler.

Bishop B. Michael Watson 74T received the Dean’s Medal in June 2016 in honor of his extraordinary leadership and service to Candler. He was bishop of the North Georgia Annual Conference of the UMC from 2008-2016, and bishop of the South Georgia Annual Conference from 2000-2008.  He served on the board of Emory University, as chair of Candler’s Board of Advisors, as a member of Emory’s Presidential Selection Committee, and as chair of Candler’s Campaign Committee during Campaign Emory, the most successful fundraising effort in the university’s history. Watson and his wife, Margaret, established the Allie and Excell Watson Endowment, a fully-funded scholarship endowment at Candler, in memory of his parents.

Elisabeth Hardin received the Dean’s Medal in August 2017, in recognition of the Hardin family’s longstanding commitment to Candler, particularly in providing generous scholarship support to students from the North Alabama Annual Conference of the UMC.

The Rev. James W. Giddens, Jr. 87T received the Dean’s Medal in June 2018 upon his retirement as senior minister of Skidaway Island United Methodist Church. A longtime member of Candler’s Committee of 100, Giddens was an early recipient of the Sherman Scholarship at Candler, which supports students preparing for local church ministry in The United Methodist Church. As pastor of Skidaway UMC for 30 years, he returned the favor for generations of Candler students who followed, encouraging his congregation to fund scholarships for students who are responding to God’s call to Christian ministry. To date, members of Skidaway Island UMC have directed more than $500,000 to Candler for scholarships.

Bishop Woodie W. White received the Dean’s Medal in October 2018 in recognition of his twelve years as Candler’s bishop-in-residence and his steadfast commitment to civil rights and racial inclusivity across a long career in The United Methodist Church. A scholarship at Candler also has been named for White. Read more about it in the News section of this issue.  

The Rev. Edward Ducree 68T. Photo credit: Cindy Brown 09TThe Rev. Edward Ducree 68T received the Dean’s Medal in October 2018. Ducree came to Candler as a transfer student and graduated with a bachelor of divinity degree in 1968, the school’s first African American graduate. He has served in numerous capacities in churches and nonprofit organizations across the United States, and is known and respected for his ongoing work for social justice, especially within marginalized communities.

The Rev. Dr. Otis Turner 69T 74G received the Dean’s Medal in November 2018. He enrolled at Candler in 1965 as the first African American student admitted to the school. He graduated in 1969 with a bachelor of divinity degree, and then continued his studies at Emory’s Graduate Division of Religion, earning a PhD in social ethics in 1974. He was the first black faculty member at Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina, and later worked in racial justice and legal aid ministries of the Presbyterian Church (USA).

The Ducree-Turner Scholarship was established in their honor. Read about it in the News section of this issue.

Enhancing Worship and Ecumenism

The worship of God is at the heart of life at Candler, sustaining our students for witness to the world. A recent gift from the Floyd family, given in loving memory of their parents William R. Floyd 54C 57T and Joyce H. Floyd, now supports the important ministry of Candler’s Office of Worship and Music, where students, faculty, and staff work together to design and implement meaningful worship experiences.

The Solon P. Patterson and Marianna R. Patterson Catholic-Orthodox Endowment has been established by Solon P. Patterson 57B 58B and Marianna R. Patterson 61C to support the programmatic efforts and activities focused on Catholic-Orthodox dialogue and understanding through Candler’s Aquinas Center of Theology.

Advancing Reformation Research

2017 marked the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, and the 30th anniversary of the Richard C. Kessler Reformation Collection at Candler’s Pitts Theology Library. Supported by the vision and resources of Richard and Martha Kessler and partners throughout the Southeast, the Kessler Collection provides a rich resource for scholars and for clergy and laity who seek to understand the history of the Christian faith. It now contains nearly 4,000 documents written by Martin Luther, his colleagues, and his opponents, all printed during their lifetimes.

In honor of the collection’s 30th anniversary, the Kesslers worked in partnership with Candler, the William I.H. and Lula E. Pitts Foundation, and other donors to raise $300,000 for its advancement, ensuring that the collection will continue to benefit Candler, Emory, and the broader world as it enters its fourth decade.

Leveraging Technology for Learning

Candler’s Rita Anne Rollins Building and Pitts Theology Library are instrumental resources in our educational mission. Our 128,600 square feet of state-of-the-art facilities support teaching, research, community life, and spiritual formation for students, faculty, staff, the wider Emory community, and our many visitors. A gift from the congregation of St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Orlando honored the ministry of their longtime senior pastor William S. Barnes 73B 76T on the occasion of his retirement by underwriting Candler’s distance learning classroom in his name. The room’s technology allows instructors to conduct remote video lectures, bringing in scholars from around the world by using the latest web-based conferencing tools.

Endowing the Deanship

Photo credit: Emory Photo/VideoFinally, as reported in the News section of this issue, a gift from the estate of Mary Lee Hardin Willard of Gadsden, Alabama, has created a permanently funded endowment supporting the Candler deanship. Jan Love was installed by Emory President Claire Sterk as the inaugural Mary Lee Hardin Willard Dean of Candler School of Theology during the school’s 2017 Fall Convocation, with members of the Hardin and Willard families in attendance to witness the historic event.

The generosity of members from every corner of the Candler community continues to fuel our mission to educate faithful and creative leaders for the church’s ministries throughout the world. Your gifts make a difference. Thank you.

Top image: Photo credit: Kay Hinton/Emory Photo Video