Garrett-Evangelical News

Seminary Establishes Award for Leadership in Racial Justice and Understanding

EVANSTON, Ill., Oct. 15, 2009 - Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary has established the Bishop Edsel A. Ammons Award for Leadership in Racial Justice and Understanding.

ammons-amersonThe award was announced during a service on Wednesday, October 14th celebrating the 39th year of the seminary's Center for the Church and the Black Experience. It will be presented annually by the Garrett-Evangelical president during the spring meeting of the board of trustees to an individual who has distinguished herself or himself as a leader of racial justice and understanding. The president, in collaboration with trustees, will determine the award recipient.

Reading from a proclamation about the new award named to honor Ammons' long and extraordinary service to the church, the academy and the world, seminary President Philip A. Amerson said Ammons "stands among the most distinguished alumni of Garrett-Evangelical. ... Throughout his remarkable career as pastor, urban missioner, professor, denominational leader and ecumenical champion, (he) has acted with tireless energy and distinction in seeking to do that which is (from Philippians 4:8) 'true, honorable, just, pure, commendable and pleasing to God' "

Amerson called Ammons a "trailblazer in the formative organizational years of United Methodism." He cited Ammons' visionary leadership as a young pastor when he organized 14 Methodist congregations in an unprecedented collaboration in urban ministry in Rockford, an effort that is known today as the "Rockford Experiment" and that still exists 40 years later; his appointment as director of the Church in the City in downtown Chicago; his teaching and leadership as Professor of Urban Ministry at Garrett-Evangelical;  his election as a United Methodist bishop in 1976, followed by 16 years of years of distinguished leadership in Michigan and Ohio; and his work as a Garrett-Evangelical bishop-in-residence and trustee.

The proclamation also says Ammons was a "courageous visionary, challenging the seminary to initiate programming through the Center for the Church and the Black Experience, increase racial minority presence on the faculty and provide resources for African American students."

Ammons was educated at Chicago area schools and colleges. Among his degrees, he received a bachelor of divinity from Garrett Theology Seminary in 1957 and a doctor of ministry from Chicago Theological Seminary in 1975. He is married to Helen Fannings Ammons. Between them, they have eight children.

Garrett-Evangelical is a graduate school of theology of The United Methodist Church founded in 1853. Located on the campus of Northwestern University, the seminary serves more than 500 students from many denominations and various cultural backgrounds, fostering an atmosphere of ecumenical interaction. Garrett-Evangelical creates bold leaders through master of divinity, master of arts, master of theological studies, doctor of philosophy and doctor of ministry degrees. Its 4,500 living alumni serve church and society around the world.

UMC Logo Garrett-Evangelical, a seminary related to
The United Methodist Church, welcomes
students from a wide range of faith traditions.