Since 1986, Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary has presented 80 alums with the Distinguished Alum Award that celebrates excellence in a variety of ministerial fields, including the pastoral ministries, seminary and denominational leadership, publishing, social and ethical activism, pastoral counseling, and teaching. On March 13, four more alums were added to the distinguished list
as they were recognized for their vision, accomplishments, and leadership in their respective callings.
The following individuals received the 2007 Distinguished Alum Award in the company of family, friends, church members, LPTS alums, and the LPTS community during the annual alum reunion and Festival of Theology.
Introduced by colleague Dean K. Thompson, The Rev. Dr. William J. Carl III (MDiv ’73) is the fifth president of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. Prior to assuming his presidential duties in February 2006, Carl served as pastor of the 1,700-member First Presbyterian Church in Dallas, Texas, from 1983 through 2005. During his pastoral tenure there, he helped the congregation nurture 22 church members into ministry and led it to increase its endowment reserves from $1 million to nearly $25 million. As the church’s pastor, Carl served as president and interim executive director of Greater Dallas Community of Churches and led the largest social ministry program in the nation serving the poor and dispossessed in downtown Dallas. For 22 years, he preached to as many as half a million people via television across Texas every third Sunday. Carl is the longest tenured pastor in the 150-year history of First Presbyterian Church in Dallas, surpassing the tenure of former pastor Andrew Pickens Smith, who was a chaplain in the Battle of Gettysburg.
Carl was also a member of the Louisville Seminary Board of Trustees for 18 years. In behalf of the Seminary, he led First Presbyterian Dallas to fund and name a room at Laws Lodge in honor of his parishioner, Rev. Snowden Isaiah McKinnon, the first African American graduate of Louisville Seminary.
Born in Broken Arrow, Okla., Carl grew up in Bartlesville, Okla., and graduated from the University of Tulsa with a bachelor's in religion and philosophy. At Louisville Seminary, he was a Patterson Fellow in New Testament Greek and graduated with his Master of Divinity in 1973. He was ordained in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in the same year. In 1977, he received the Doctor of Philosophy in rhetoric and communication from the University of Pittsburgh, where he also taught as an instructor.
Carl served as associate professor of homiletics and worship and instructor of New Testament Greek at Union Theological Seminary (Virginia). Three decades before his call as President, he was an instructor at Pittsburgh Seminary and while living in Texas, served as an adjunct professor at Austin Theological Seminary.
A pre-eminent example of the minister as pastor, leader, preacher, teacher, and scholar in Reformed and ecumenical traditions, he has lectured at Oxford, Princeton, Boston University, the Moscow Theological Academy, the Kerala United Theological Seminary in India, and dozens of other divinity schools and conferences both here and abroad. He serves as an ethics consultant for Duke University Medical Center and lectures on the brain and cognitive neuroscience at medical schools and conferences. Carl has published five books and more than 50 scholarly articles and reviews. He has served as guest chaplain of the United States Senate and his sermon, "So Help Me God," was published in The Congressional Record at the request of Sen. Howard Baker.
Inroduced by her pastor, Jane Larsen-Wigger (MDiv '83), The Rev. Dr. Marian McClure (MDiv ’95) is recognized as a global leader in worldwide ministries of the Presbyterian Church (USA), which she served from 1993 through 2006. As director of the denomination’s Worldwide Ministries Division for nine years, she had responsibility for more than 400 mission and field staff, 100 United States-based staff, 165 inter-denominational mission partnerships, and a $45 million budget through which she led the ecumenical visioning and implementation for international evangelism, education and health, global disaster assistance, anti-poverty work, and interfaith relations. In addition to helping the role of mission work in the Presbyterian Church flourish, McClure represented the denomination at worldwide meetings, such as the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, the General Assembly of the World Council of Churches, and as a delegate to the Vatican.
She was born in Knoxville, Tenn., but raised in Birmingham, Ala., where her father, Rev. Scott McClure, served as pastor of Independent Presbyterian Church. McClure earned her Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of the South, in Sewanee, Tenn. She earned her doctorate in political science at Harvard University and served five years as a program officer for the Ford Foundation in its Mexico City office. In her position there, she helped women’s organizations earn grants to address inadequate laws and practices affecting thousands of victims of sexual and domestic violence; research and pilot studies toward the eradication of rural poverty; and the need for graduate scholarships for study abroad.
She has been described as “a preacher's daughter, a preacher's sister, and a preacher herself.” But her sense of calling to ministry came after she had begun her career and with much discernment. She enrolled at Louisville Seminary, while her brother John McClure was serving there as professor of homiletics. As a seminarian, McClure received the David H.C. Read Preacher-Scholar Award and the Seminary’s award for academic excellence. A member of Mid-Kentucky Presbytery, she was ordained to the Ministry of Word and Sacrament in 1996.
McClure is in great demand throughout the church as a speaker and preacher, and she has made numerous contributions to national seminaries as an instructor and lecturer, including serving as the 2006 Commencement speaker for Louisville Seminary. She is the author of many denominational policy statements and numerous articles, including “Creative Changes in International Mission” (The Presbyterian Outlook, August 14, 2006), “In the Picture, in the Halls, in the Home,” in Celebrating Our Call: Ordination Stories of Presbyterian Women (2006), edited by Patricia Lloyd-Sidle, and “Inside Harare—Compassion and Calling,” in International Review of Mission (January/April 1999).
Church member Steve M. Hays introduced The Rev. Dr. K.C. Ptomey, Jr. (MDiv ’67), who has served as pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Memphis, Tenn., for 26 years. This is his fourth call since graduating from Louisville Seminary in 1967 (MDiv). He has also served congregations in Collierville, Tenn., and Henderson and Arlington Texas.
Ptomey’s pastoral roots have been forged by the loving, nurturing, challenging, inspiring “faith and discipleship of my parents and the hundreds of faithful elders and deacons, Sunday school teachers, pastors, and experiences” he has found in the Church. He credits his parents, a Methodist and a Baptist, for “meeting in the middle” to raise him in the Presbyterian Church. When he followed a call to ministry, he enrolled at Louisville Seminary, another nurturing middle ground—the only seminary of the denomination that for more than 100 years was jointly supported by the conflicting northern and southern branches of the Church.
Raised in Birmingham, Ala., Ptomey earned his Bachelor of Arts from Southwestern College in Memphis (now Rhodes College). As a student there, during the most tense years of the civil rights movement, Ptomey, along with two other students, was credited for risking his life in order to escort African American students to worship at Second Presbyterian Church of Memphis.
As a student at Louisville Seminary, Ptomey was quite popular among his peers and earned a reputation for dynamic preaching and strong teaching. After earning his Master of Divinity in 1967, he later served on the Alum Association Board and as the alum representative to the Board of Trustees.
In 1980, Ptomey earned his doctor of ministry from McCormick Theological Seminary. He has served as an adjunct faculty member in the field of homiletics at Vanderbilt Divinity School, and was honored by Rhodes College with a postgraduate doctorate in 1989.
Throughout his pastoral leadership, Ptomey has served the wider Church, including a six-year-term on the General Assembly Council’s Congregational Ministries Division Committee and the Committee on Theological Education. He served as a commissioner to the 1973 General Assembly, Presbyterian Church (US), and the 1999 General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA). In 2004, Ptomey received one of the Church’s highest recognitions as he was nominated for Moderator of the 2004 General Assembly.
Dr. David A. Steere (BD ’56) was introduced by fellow alum and brother-in-law Jim Brown (BD '58). Steere is Professor Emeritus of Pastoral Care and Counseling at Louisville Seminary. As a member of the faculty, Steere led Louisville Seminary to national recognition in the field of pastoral care and counseling during a teaching career that spanned 24 years, before his retirement in 1996. He was the leading force in establishing at the Seminary a Marriage and Family Therapy program based on the integration of secular psychology and theology. Today, the American Association of Pastoral Counselors (AAPC) recognizes this program as one of the top seminary-based, accredited programs in the nation. Since the first graduating class of marriage and family therapists, in 1993, the program has become one of the most popular degree programs at Louisville Seminary, enrolling near-capacity numbers each year. It remains one of the most ecumenically representative and diverse programs on the campus.
Steere was born in Akron, Ohio. He earned his undergraduate degree from Centre College in 1953, and enrolled at Louisville Seminary that same year, earning his Bachelor of Divinity in 1956. He served as a supervisor of field education for Union Theological Seminary in New York, where he later earned the Doctor of Philosophy degree. In 1962, Louisville Seminary called Steere as Associate Professor of Pastoral Theology and as the director of its pioneering field education program. When he joined the faculty of Louisville Seminary, he also brought experience as pastor of rural churches near Lebanon, Ky., and Faith Presbyterian Church in Louisville.
Throughout his teaching career, Steere has been recognized as a preeminent scholar whose work became the leading edge in the fields of mutual supervision and the relationship of clinical life and teaching. He is the author of Bodily Expressions in Psychotherapy (1982), The Supervision of Pastoral Care (1989), and Spiritual Presence in Psychotherapy: A Guide for Caregivers (1997).
In retirement, Steere continues his ministry in private counseling. Louisville Seminary established The David A. Steere Scholarship Endowment Fund, in 1996, in honor of his retirement and exemplary contributions to the study of pastoral counseling at Louisville Seminary. At the 2006 Kentucky Association for Marriage and Family Therapy Annual Conference, Steere was also honored for his outstanding contribution to the field of Marriage and Family Therapy in the State of Kentucky.
View images from the Distinguished Alum Award Luncheon and other events during the annual Reunion and Festival of Theology on the Photo Gallery web page.
Learn more about past Distinguished Alums.