Candler Honors Distinguished Alumni
On Sept. 28, Candler will honor three alums with the Distinguished Alumni Award. The recipients for 2012 are Thomas A. Summers 59T for Service to Community; B. Wiley Stephens 65T for Service to Candler; and W. Waite Willis Jr. 75T 83G for Service to Church.
Thomas A. Summers served as a hospital chaplain and Director of Clinical Pastoral Education with the South Carolina Department of Mental Health for 41 years; he published the book Hunkering Down: My Story in Four Decades of Clinical Pastoral Education (2000) about the experience. He has also been deeply involved with social justice issues, including advocacy for gay rights, immigration reform, and racial healing. Each year, Summers organizes clergy participation in the South Carolina’s annual gay pride march, and he has also facilitated a group called Openings, which draws LGBT advocates and their straight allies for dinner and discussion.
In nominating Summers for the award, one person wrote, “His prophetic ministry reflects the best evidence of the high standards which Candler sets for its graduates and the servant role so desperately needed in our diverse culture.”
B. Wiley Stephens is the senior pastor of Dunwoody United Methodist Church. He has served churches in Georgia since 1965. He has also served on numerous boards and agencies of the North Georgia Annual Conference and The United Methodist Church, including the Board of Ordained Ministry, the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, and the Personnel and Policy Committee of the North Georgia Conference. He is also a frequent contributor to the radio program Day 1. Stephens taught preaching for 16 years in the Course of Study program at Candler and served on the school’s Clergy Advisory Committee. In 2010, Dunwoody UMC made a gift to Candler to support the construction of Phase II of Candler’s building program, which Stephens noted at the time reinforced the strong relationship between Candler and Dunwoody UMC; all but one of the church’s senior pastors and most of the staff graduated from Candler.
“Wiley is loved and respected by the congregation at Dunwoody,” wrote one of his nominators. “The success of our church is due, in large part, to the skill and dedication that he has displayed in leading us since his arrival in 1990. I have no hesitation in saying that Wiley Stephens has no equal in the North Georgia Conference and possibly anywhere else.”
W. Waite Willis Jr. is Edward Pendergrass Professor of Religion at Florida Southern College, a historic United Methodist college located in Lakeland, Fla. Having taught there since 1978, Willis has helped mentor 125 students into ministry. (Of these students, 49 chose their professor’s alma mater of Candler!) In addition to his teaching at Florida Southern, he has taught in the Course of Study program at Candler for 20 years. Willis is also the director of the weekly contemporary worship service at First United Methodist Church in Lakeland, which averages 800 people in attendance each week.
“I am not being hyperbolic when I say that Waite Willis has had a life-changing effect on several hundred United Methodist ministers, through the gifts of teaching, mentoring, leadership, and music,” said one of his nominators.
The Distinguished Alumni Awards will be presented at a luncheon on Sept. 28 in Candler School of Theology Room 102. The luncheon is open to alums at no cost; please email firstname.lastname@example.org to register.
To nominate an alum for next year’s Distinguished Alumni Awards, please visit http://candler.emory.edu/alumni/get-involved/alumni-awards.html.