Posted by William Nunnelley on 2006-09-25

Dr. William Robbins Sims, pastor of Whitfield United Methodist Church of Montgomery, Ala., has received the first James A. Auchmuty Fellowship for continuing education and professional renewal among congregational leaders.

The $5,000 award is funded by the James A. Auchmuty Fund for Excellence in Congregational Leadership, established in 2005 by Shades Crest Baptist Church in conjunction with Samford University's Resource Center for Pastoral Excellence.

Dr. Sims is participating in the two-year Academy for Spiritual Formation offered by the Upper Room Ministries of Nashville, Tenn. He is focusing research and study on "Nature and Spirituality."

Sims has served as a pastor since 1974, including some 25 years at Methodist and Baptist congregations in Alabama. He is a graduate of Troy State University with master of divinity and doctor of ministry degrees from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. He has further study at Candler School of Theology of Emory University and with the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry.

The Auchmuty Fellowship program is open to clergy and laity of any Christian denomination, race and gender with at least 15 years of exemplary congregational leadership experience. Designed to help both clergy and laity counteract burnout, the fund is named for the retired longtime pastor of Shades Crest Baptist Church, a Samford graduate.

For information on the program, contact the Resource Center for Pastoral Excellence.

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. The Wall Street Journal ranks Samford 1st nationally for student engagement and U.S. News & World Report ranks Samford 66th in the nation for best undergraduate teaching and 104th nationally for best value. Samford enrolls 5,683 students from 47 states and 19 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.