Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago master of divinity student L. Cuttino Alexander is the 2013 winner of the $20,000 David H.C. Read Preacher/Scholar Award, presented by Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church, New York, N.Y. The award is made annually to a student in the final year of a master of divinity program at a Protestant theological school in the United States or Canada who demonstrates exceptional distinction in both preaching and biblical scholarship and is committed to parish ministry.
“For Cuttino, preaching is an opportunity to assist people in making sense out of God’s involvement in their lives,” said Mark Bangert, John H. Tietjen Professor Emeritus of Pastoral Theology: Worship and Church Music, Alexander’s preaching instructor. “I believe more and more that good preachers begin their formation at baptism and continue to be formed in their lives of faith; the only thing a preaching professor does is help to clear away the unhelpful, the needless as the voice of the preacher begins to become public.”
“I want to express my deep gratitude to the faculty and staff at LSTC as well as my internship and field education supervisors for helping me find my voice in the pulpit and the classroom. This award has been a thrilling way to end my time in Chicago. Wherever I end up next, I leave here feeling well equipped to proclaim the Gospel,” Alexander said.
Preaching with sensitivity to each context
L. Cuttino Alexander began to discern a call to ministry while attending the University of North Carolina. A student of history and Russian language, he applied his linguistic gifts serving in the U.S. Peace Corps as an advisor to a non-profit educational program for street children in Gori, Georgia. When war broke out between Georgia and Russia, he returned to the U.S. and enrolled at LSTC. Alexander returned to Georgia for his internship year of seminary, serving as vicar at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tbilisi. There he learned to preach in Russian and helped design multilingual worship services.
In a letter for recommendation for the prize, Professor Barbara Rossing wrote, “Cuttino is an outstanding theologian, full of theological and biblical insights relevant to diverse contexts. . .He tailors his sermon for each context, showing great sensitivity and thought to the needs and expectations of his audience.”
Alexander will graduate from LSTC on May 19. He has been assigned to the North Carolina Synod and is awaiting a full-time call to a congregation.
About the David H.C. Reach Preacher/Scholar Award
Each year, theological schools may nominate up to two candidates for the David H.C. Read Preacher/Scholar Award. Candidates provide seminary records, biographical statements, recommendations by two professors, two written and recorded sermons (one based on an Old Testament text and the other on a New Testament text) and brief exegetical papers in support of each sermon. A lay committee of Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church reviews the materials and chooses four finalists. A panel of distinguished New York City preacher/scholars choose the winner from among the four finalists. The 2013 award panel included the Rev. Dr. Stephen Bauman, Christ Methodist Church; the Rev. Dr. Brenda Husson, St. James’ Church; the Rev. Laura Jervis, West Side Housing Federation; the Rev. Michael Lindvall, Brick Presbyterian Church; and the Rev. Dr. Jon M. Walton, The First Presbyterian Church in the City of New York.
The award was established by Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church to honor the Rev. Dr. David H.C. Read (1910-2001), an internationally renowned preacher, scholar, author and ecumenist, upon his retirement in 1989 after 34 years as the church’s Senior Minister.
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The Lutheran School of Theology (LSTC) is dedicated to bearing witness to the good news of Jesus Christ. Based in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood, it is the leading urban Lutheran seminary training students for purposeful vocations in the global community. Aligned with its Lutheran heritage and built on a foundation of intellectual rigor, LSTC’s innovative, nationally recognized curriculum gives students skills for visionary Christian leadership in the public sphere.