By Jessica Connor
ATLANTA — Two South Carolina United Methodist pastors are among the three 2011 recipients of the annual Candler Distinguished Alumni Award.
Dr. Tim McClendon, Columbia District superintendent and 2012 episcopal nominee, and the Rev. John Culp, senior pastor of Virginia Wingard Memorial United Methodist Church, Columbia, will receive their awards Oct. 11 in a ceremony at Candler School of Theology, at Emory University in Atlanta. McClendon s award is for service to the church, and Culp s award is for service to the community.
Retired Bishop L. Bevel Jones III will also receive the award, his for service to Candler.
Dr. Jan Love, dean of Candler and professor of Christianity and World Politics, will present the award along with Dr. Dee Shelnutt, past chair of the Candler Alumni Board. The award is given on behalf of the school and the alumni board.
Candler has almost 7,500 living alumni, many of whom are noteworthy elected church officials. Others create, tend and sustain vibrant church ministries, often with little recognition, and some establish or serve in distinguished ministries that transform people s lives in chaplaincies or social service settings, Love said. In this context, being a recipient of Candler s Distinguished Alumni Award is indeed a very high honor.
Megan Lineberry, director of alumni relations, said the award is an honor for recipients.
The great work that these folks do every day in their churches and in their communities really speaks to the faithful and creative leaders that we are shaping here at Candler, Lineberry said.
McClendon is a 1996 graduate of Candler; Culp is a 1971 graduate of Candler; and Jones is a 1946 graduate of Emory and a 1949 graduate of Candler.
McClendon is receiving the award for his service to church as an author, professor, promoter of missions and social justice, and leader of clergy and laity “ specifically for serving on numerous committees and task forces of the UMC; serving as delegate to General and Jurisdictional conferences five times; shepherding a new generation of ministers (mentor through candidacy process, and new ministers); advocating for Native American justice and recognition; mission work in the Philippines, Bulgaria, Mozambique, Grand Bahama Island and Nicaragua; his passion for ministry, the UMC and faith dialogue; contributing to United Methodist magazines; and serving five churches and five years as Columbia District superintendent.
McClendon feels the award is a high honor.
The people who nominated me are folks in South Carolina and in the Candler School of Theology community who, without my knowledge, write letters supporting this honor, McClendon said. The mere fact of that is honor enough, but to be recognized by Candler, which is so dear to me, is tremendous.
McClendon said he has tried to give his life to the church because the church has given him life “ through Christ.
Culp is receiving the award for his community work in the areas of AIDS, Shalom communities, civil rights, justice issues and equitable housing through Salkehatchie Summer Service program, which Culp started in 1978. That program grew from 40 youth and adults serving four families in 1978 to more than 3,000 volunteers serving more than 250 families in 2010. He is also helping to build water wells in Malawi in honor of his granddaughter.
A delegate to General Conference twice and Jurisdictional Conference three times, Culp is known as an advocate for all God s children.
Culp also feels extremely honored to receive this recognition.
When I finished Candler, one of my deep concerns was civil rights and how could we change South Carolina, and Salkehatchie came out of that vision, Culp said. Candler gave me a social conscience.
Given since 2007, previous recipients of the Candler Distinguished Alumni Awards include Bishop Robert C. Morgan, Rev. Gilbert L. Schroerlucke, Dr. Herchel H. Sheets, William S. Barnes, Bishop J. Lloyd Knox, Rev. Kenneth E. Marcus, Cecil McFarland, Carolyn Morris, Kenneth L. Samuel, Susan T. Henry-Crowe, Ginger Rogers Kaney, Eugene M. Zimmerman and Nelia T. Kimbrough.