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Barbara Wheeler receives award for theological education from COTE

Former Auburn Theological Seminary president called a 'bold, resilient leader'

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Former Auburn Theological Seminary president Barbara G. Wheeler received the Committee on Theological Education Award for Excellence in Theological Education.

She is “a bold and resilient leader,” the Rev. Lee Hinson-Hasty, coordinator for theological education and seminary relations for the PC(USA), told those gathered Thursday morning at the Theological Education Awards Breakfast at the 219th General Assembly.

Wheeler is director of the Auburn Center for the Study of Theological Education, which she founded in 1991. She also served as Auburn’s president for 30 years.

Seminary leadership has especially been at the forefront of Wheeler’s recent research, and she shared some of the results of her work at the breakfast.

“Where does excellence come from?” asked the PC(USA) elder. “It does not come from inside me.”

Our faith teaches it comes from God and Jesus, and there has to be a conveyance for the word of Jesus to come alive, Wheeler said. “What makes that (conveyance) happen is other people.”

 “We must teach the truth to each other,” she said. “We learn it from the words and by the example of others.”

Other recognitions were made at the breakfast, including to Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Milwaukee, Wis., for being the largest contributing church in 2009 to the Theological Education Fund. Immanuel is led by the Rev. Deborah A. Block.