Candler School of Theology has established two new scholarships honoring three individuals who have played important roles in the school’s history. The Bishop Woodie W. White Scholarship, named for Candler’s longtime bishop-in-residence, and the Ducree-Turner Scholarship, named for Candler’s first black graduate, the Rev. Edward Ducree 68T, and first black student, the Rev. Dr. Otis Turner 69T 74G, were announced by Dean Jan Love on October 11. All three honorees also received the prestigious Dean’s Medal, an award reserved for persons whose efforts on behalf of the school have had a transformative effect. 

The Bishop Woodie W. White Scholarship

Bishop Woodie WhiteThe Bishop Woodie W. White Scholarship honors White’s legacy and tireless commitment to civil rights and racial inclusiveness across his decades-long career in The United Methodist Church. It will be awarded to Master of Divinity students who have discerned a vocational call to ministries of racial justice, inclusiveness, and reconciliation. 

As bishop-in-residence at Candler from 2004 to 2016, White served as a teacher and pastor to the Candler community. He instructed students about The United Methodist Church and race, taking his students to visit important civil rights sites sites in Alabama, a tour that culminated in Selma to participate in the annual march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in commemoration of “Bloody Sunday.” An active participant in the civil rights movement, White continues to provide critical leadership for the church and larger society.

White grew up in New York City, then completed undergraduate studies at Paine College in Augusta, Georgia, and graduate studies at Boston University School of Theology. He was appointed associate pastor and later pastor of East Grand Boulevard Methodist Church in Detroit. In 1968, White was selected to be the first general secretary of The United Methodist Church’s newly created General Commission on Religion and Race. In this role, he led the denomination in dismantling segregated structures and discriminatory practices to create a more racially and ethnically inclusive church. He served in that capacity until 1984, when he was elected to the episcopacy. He served as bishop to the Illinois Area from 1984 to 1992 and the Indiana Area from 1992 to 2004.

White holds eight honorary doctoral degrees and numerous other honors, including a Distinguished Alumni Award from Boston University, an Award from the United States Office of Economic Opportunity, and the Distinguished Service Award from the United Committee on Negro History.

The Ducree–Turner Scholarship

The Ducree–Turner Scholarship honors the Rev. Edward Ducree 68T, Candler’s first black graduate, and the Rev. Dr. Otis Turner 69T 74G, the first black student to be admitted to and enroll at Candler. Both men paved the way for the generations of black students who followed. The scholarship will be awarded to Master of Divinity students who have discerned a call to serve within historically black denominational traditions and will provide support during their ministerial education and pastoral leadership development.

Rev. Edward "Ed" DucreeThe Rev. Edward Ducree came to Candler as a transfer student and graduated with the bachelor of divinity degree in 1968. He was the first African American graduate of Candler School of Theology. Ducree has served in numerous capacities in churches and within organizations across the United States. He is known and respected for his ongoing work for social justice, especially within marginalized communities. His commitment to the work of racial healing and justice found expression even while he was still a student at Candler. 

In 1968, inspired by the witness and accomplishments of Martin Luther King, Jr., who was assassinated just weeks before Ducree’s graduation, Ducree and other Candler students, staff, and faculty founded the organization Christian Realism Involving Students in Society (CRISIS). They applied for a grant to create a community center in the Buttermilk Bottoms neighborhood, a marginalized community in Atlanta, to contribute to the alleviation of poverty and to model, in their own words at the time, “racial reconciliation.” They tried hard to follow the leadership of those already well-established in the community, to avoid bureaucracy and paternalism, and to stress the love of Jesus Christ. Ducree and the work of CRISIS were featured in Emory Magazine in the fall of 1968.

After graduating from Candler, Ducree returned to his home neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn, New York as a street gang worker for the New York City Youth Board. He is a prolific developer of needs-based programming, and is certified in Anger Management, Conflict Resolution and Cultural Competence. The New Jersey Department of Corrections hired him as a consultant and teacher to address racial tensions among corrections officers, administrative staff, and inmates. 

Ducree was on the ministerial staff at Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, in June 2015, when a gunman murdered nine parishioners at a prayer meeting. After the massacre, Ducree was appointed as the Charleston Chapter Co-Organizer of the Murder Victims’ Families for Reconciliation (MVFR).

Rev. Dr. Otis TurnerThe Rev. Dr. Otis Turner enrolled at Candler in the fall of 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 University’s Graduate Division of Religion, earning a PhD in social ethics in 1974.

Turner began his career as assistant professor of religion at Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina, the first black faculty member appointed at the school. He later worked as assistant dean and director of the Division of Student Affairs at the South Carolina School for the Deaf and Blind, directed the Council on Church and Race for the Presbyterian Church (USA) in Atlanta, and provided leadership for racial justice policy development and served as the administrator of the Fund for Legal Aid in the Racial Ethnic Ministry Unit of the Presbyterian Church (USA) in Louisville, Kentucky.

Turner has received several awards and fellowships, including the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) Award, the Rockefeller Fellowship, and the Presbyterian Graduate Fellowship. In 2005, he was the recipient of an award from Candler’s Black Church Studies Program.

The scholarships will be awarded to selected recipients beginning with the Fall 2019 entering MDiv class.