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Gambrell to receive Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary distinguished alumni award


PMA worship associate honored for work on new Book of Common Worship and Glory to God hymnal

by Paul Seebeck | Presbyterian News Service

David Gambrell, associate for worship, office of Theology and Worship. (Photo by Gregg Brekke)

LOUISVILLE — When David Gambrell heard he was to be honored by Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary as a distinguished alumni on Jan. 31, he quipped, “I guess I’m going to have to get a haircut.”

Notoriously self-effacing, the Presbyterian Mission Agency worship associate is one of two alumni who will receive the award this year. The award is given to those who have distinguished themselves by their service to the church or seminary.

“David Gambrell has had a huge impact on worship in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), including writing hymns that will be sung for generations,” says Austin alumna Carol Howard Merritt.

Gambrell also will be recognized for his work on the new Book of Common Worship, to be released in April, and the 2013 hymnal Glory to God. He will receive the distinguished alumni award nearly 20 years after he graduated in May 1998.

Gambrell is particularly touched to receive the award at the alumni association luncheon during Austin’s Mid-Winter lectures. In 2009, at the luncheon during Mid-Winter lectures, the seminary dedicated its liturgy lab to professor Stan Hall. Gambrell was close to the influential liturgical studies professor who died of a pulmonary condition on Feb. 3, 2008.

“Stan had a profound impact on so many of us,” Gambrell remarked. “He taught us to think deeply about worship, to ask critical questions and to embody the mystery of faith in our practice. On this 10th anniversary of his death, it is fitting to remember and give thanks for his transforming work.”

The Austin Seminary Association has been giving out distinguished alumni awards since 1975. Approximately 130 awards have been given. The award is not always given to Austin Seminary alumni, through preference is given to them.

The other winner this year is Valerie Bridgeman. As interim academic dean and associate professor of Homiletics and the Hebrew Bible at the Methodist Theological School of Ohio, Bridgeman is using her “prophetic voice” to speak about important issues in the church and world. She is also helping prepare future ministry leaders to find their voice as well.

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