Alex Becker, a second-year Master of Divinity student at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, is the recipient of the E.L. Bell Memorial Prize for excellence in biblical studies. The award, which recognizes a student’s work in Hebrew Bible and the New Testament at the conclusion of their first year of study, was presented at the Opening Convocation Service, held September 9, 2010, in the Seminary’s Frank H. and Fannie W. Caldwell Chapel.
Established in 1953, the award is presented annually in memory of Edwin Lewis Bell (1864-1942), a deacon and elder of Old Stone Presbyterian Church in Lewisburg, W.Va., and the father of Margaret Bell Hanna of Lexington, Ky. Margaret Hanna was the spouse of Dr. C. Morton Hanna (1896-1964), a Louisville Seminary alum, professor, and pioneer of the supervised field ministry movement.
“Receiving the E.L. Bell Memorial Prize has connected me with a “cloud of witnesses” who have come before me. To me, receiving recognition for academic work means not only having the value of one’s work affirmed but also sensing the watchful eyes of those who have received this prize before me. My goal now is to stand up to the high expectations of such a group,” said Becker.
Becker, who began his studies at Louisville Seminary in the fall of 2009, first sensed a call to the ministry in high school. He participated in the Speech and Debate program as an extemporaneous speaker and completed the Burning Bush Program, offered by Presbyterian Church (USA) to high school students as a vocational discernment experience. He later served a chaplain at a Boy Scout summer camp and as a student pastor at a small congregation in Shelby, Ohio. All of these experiences, he said, helped him to develop his leadership skills.
In attending Louisville Seminary Becker has appreciated how the faculty and his classes confront practical issues and place a high expectation on field education and experiential training. Master of Divinity students at Louisville Seminary complete four semesters of field education in conjunction with their classroom study as part of their degree requirements.
“Every class at LPTS has challenged me to think about church and Christianity in new ways,” said Becker, who also is one of ten Rev. Arnold O. Schaap Presidential Scholars in the Seminary's Scholarships for Excellence program. “Chapel services at LPTS, in particular, have been incredibly influential. Every time I go to chapel, I learn something new about worship, and I feel inspired.”
Becker said that after he graduates, he will never forget the ways that the professors and students have challenged his theological assumptions and understood his shortcomings.
As part of the fall convocation, prizes were also presented to students for their work in theology; marriage and family and pastoral counseling theory and practice; and practical theology.