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Louisville Seminary Announces 2017 Distinguished Alums

Mar 14, 2017

Distinguished Alums 2017

Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary recently announced the recipients of the 2017 Distinguished Alum Award.

Established in 1986, the Distinguished Alum Award is given to graduates of Louisville Seminary who have made a lasting impact on the church and society through outstanding professional, volunteer or philanthropic accomplishments; and/or who have advanced the seminary's mission, thereby, enhancing Louisville Seminary's impact on the church and future generations of students. The 2017 Louisville Seminary Distinguished Alum Award recipients are:

Rev. Dr. Deborah A. Block (MDiv ’77) is pastor and head of staff at Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Since 1977, she has also served the congregation as co-pastor, associate pastor, and assistant pastor. Deborah preaches and teaches regularly and moderates the Session (church board). She provides pastoral support to the Board of Trustees and the Adult Education, Stewardship, Human Resources and Nominating committees. Deborah serves the wider church and community as a member of the Board of Trustees of both McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago (current board chair) and Carroll University in Waukesha, Wisconsin, where she received the P.E. MacAllister Distinguished Alumna Award for Service.

Rev. Dr. Kilen Gray (MDiv ’02, DMin ’16) is Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary’s dean of students, a position he has held since 2007, and pastor of Mount Zion Baptist Church of Shelbyville (Kentucky). During his 30+-year tenure at Mount Zion, the church has become recognized for its presence in the Shelbyville area through viable community ministries. As the seminary’s Dean of Students, Kilen joins other student support service personnel and the faculty in the formation of students for ministry and the pastoral care of students and their families. Kilen is certified as a domestic violence offender treatment provider, and serves as president of the Greater Shelby County Ministerial Alliance, an interdenominational fellowship of the African American ministers in that county. Previously, Kilen served as Human Resources and Community Coordinator for the Shelbyville County Public School district. Kilen is the co-founder and board president of GGT, Inc., the community development corporation of the New Mt. Zion Baptist Church. This organization seeks to reduce violence and provide support to families within communities with a high propensity for crime and violence. Gray also co-founded with his spouse the Creative Spirits Counseling Center, a state-licensed outpatient mental health facility in Shelbyville.

Rev. Dr. Karen Kokles Akin (MDiv ’79) has been actively involved in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) as a member of many different committees, councils, and task forces at Presbytery, Synod, and General Assembly levels including her service as chair of the Peacemaking Committee of the PC(USA), and as moderator of the Church Orders Committee at the 217th General Assembly (Birmingham, Alabama). Most recently, she completed a seven-year term on the Board of Trustees at Montreat Conference Center, where she chaired the Board Life Committee and served on several Youth Conference Planning Teams. Karen has greatly enjoyed supporting camp and conference ministry through her affiliation with Montreat as well as with Ferncliff Camp and Conference Center in Arkansas. She believes these ministries to be vital to the ongoing life of the PC(USA), where healthy dialogue is encouraged for all ages, and where people of diversity can connect and learn from one another, while being renewed in the midst of God’s gift of creation.

Karen has served the church in a variety of community settings and pastoral positions. She was ordained in Narka, Kansas, and her first pastorate was serving four small churches in northern Kansas. Over the years, she has served churches in Kansas, Texas, Colorado and Arkansas including a nearly 25-year term of service as associate pastor for Congregational Nurture at Second Presbyterian Church in Little Rock. Recently, Karen was installed as pastor at Grace Presbyterian Church in Little Rock, where she continues her passion for creating a space to dialogue about scripture and faith, caring for people, helping people to find their place in the church, encouraging the ministry of lay people, and creating space in people’s lives for re-creation and fellowship.

Louisville Seminary Distinguished Alum Award recipients will be formally recognized at the Distinguished Alum and First Decade Award Reception and Dinner, which will take place Tuesday, March 28, at Louisville Seminary’s Gardencourt. The reception begins at 5:00 p.m. with the dinner to follow at 6:00 p.m. Tickets for the event are $35 each. The event is part of Louisville Seminary’s 2017 Festival of Theology and Alum Reunion. The deadline to register is Wednesday, March 15. For questions, contact Alum, Church and Community Engagement Director Sandra Moon at smoon@lpts.edu. See www.lpts.edu to register and for more information.
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