Published on April 26, 2021 by Kristen Padilla  
Abby Gatliff
Abby Gatliff, the James Earl Massey Student Preaching Award recipient, preaches the sermon, April 13.

Five Beeson Divinity School students were honored for outstanding achievement in various fields of study for the 2020-21 academic year.

The awards were presented to graduating Master of Divinity students during the community worship service on April 13 at Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School. One award was given during community worship on April 6.

Abby Gatliff received the James Earl Massey Student Preaching Award for excellence in preaching, which is awarded biannually. She preached a sermon entitled, “Who is this God?” based on Psalm 8 during the April 13 worship service.

“Abby is a diligent and gifted student of the Word with a deep love for the Lord,” said Douglas Webster, professor of pastoral theology and Christian preaching at Beeson. “She’s a delightful blend of sensibility, scholarship and spirituality.”

Ethan McVay received the History and Doctrine Award in recognition of his exemplary scholarship in historical and systematic theology. He was recognized on April 6 during community worship since he could not attend the service on April 13.

“The Beeson faculty was pleased to name Ethan McVay as the outstanding graduating student in the field of History and Doctrine because of his love for learning and his desire to know God more truly by studying the wisdom of the Christian past,” said Michael Pasquarello, III, Methodist chair of divinity. “This love and desire were demonstrated in the consistent quality of Ethan's work during his time as a member of the Beeson community.” 

Allison Davis received the William M. Todd Award for Biblical Languages in recognition for her mastery of biblical languages.

“Allison demonstrated hard work, facility of translation from Greek texts that were complex,” said Osvaldo Padilla, professor of New Testament at Beeson. “Her translations were not only accurate but had a flare of contemporaneity to them. This made it clear that she is a gifted linguist.”

Buck Poole received the Pastoral Ministry Award for his outstanding achievement in the study of pastoral theology and practice of pastoral ministry.

“Buck is an impressive person in a humble way,” Webster said. “He embodies what we all hope to be.”

Russell Mann received the Most Distinguished Student Award in recognition of his outstanding and holistic achievement in scholarship, Christian spirituality and ministry involvement.

“If one particular virtue can be isolated, he genuinely seeks first the welfare of the kingdom of God and not his own desires or ambitions,” said Sydney Park, associate professor of New Testament. “I look forward to seeing the fruit born from such devotion to God in the coming years.”

Watch Gatliff’s sermon and awards presentation.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.