Harvard Divinity School Announces Alumni/ae Award Recipients


Harvard Divinity School has announced recipients of the three alumni awards that will be presented on its Alumni Day, June 5, 2002. At a luncheon held on the HDS campus, the First Decade Award will be given to Robert Ellsberg, Editor-in-Chief of Orbis Books, and the Rabbi Martin Katzenstein Award will be given to the Reverend Paul D. Kennedy, retired senior pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Worcester, Mass. In addition, the first Black Alumni Award will be presented to Preston N. Williams, Houghton Professor of Theology and Contemporary Change, who is retiring after more than 30 years on the Faculty of Divinity. 

The First Decade Award was established in 1983 by the Alumni Association of the Divinity School to recognize a graduate from the previous 10 years “whose vocation confirms our hope that God is present as justice, peace and beauty and whose achievement inspires our striving for truth, compassion, and service.”

Ellsberg, ThM ’94, has been Editor-in-Chief of Orbis Books in Maryknoll, New York, for 15 years. In this position, he has edited writings of world-renowned religious leaders, theologians and writers including Gandhi, Dorothy Day, Jean-Bertrand Aristide and Flannery O’Connor. He has also developed his own reputation as an author and a speaker in the field of spirituality. Orbis’s booklist, and Ellsberg’s own writings, show his commitment to a kind of publishing that is in service to the church and the world—a commitment that was formed during years spent at The Catholic Worker in New York City, a period of travel in Latin America on a Sheldon Traveling Fellowship, and time studying religion and literature at HDS. Ellsberg grew up in Los Angeles and received his undergraduate degree from Harvard College. He currently resides in Ossining, New York, with his wife, a professor of religion, and their three children. 

The Rabbi Martin Katzenstein Award was established in 1979 to recognize a Divinity School graduate who exhibits “a passionate and helpful interest in the lives of other people, an informed and realistic faithfulness, an embodiment of the idea that love is not so much a feeling as a way of acting, and a reliable sense of humor.” It honors Martin Katzenstein, ThM ’58, who died in 1970 while he was the School’s acting dean of students.

The Reverend Paul D. Kennedy, STB ’61, was the senior pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church in Worcester, Mass., the largest Lutheran church in New England, for 12 years. Prior to his time at Trinity, he served other Lutheran churches in New England, as Assistant to the Bishop of the New England Synod (1969-1974) and as Director of Planning and Fiscal Management for his denomination at the national level (1974-1982). In addition to being a beloved minister, preacher, and administrator, Kennedy is known in Worcester for his community work, which is so extensive that it seems there is not a facet of religious, civic, or communal life in the city that has not been touched by him. His tireless advocacy for “the least of these,” especially children and the elderly, is all the more admirable given his struggle with multiple sclerosis since 1985. Kennedy lives in Worcester where he continues to serve on several boards and assist at a local church. He is dedicated to his wife, three children, and two grandchildren.

The new Black Alumni/ae Award has been created by the HDS Black Alumni Network as an annual opportunity to recognize the contribution of a black alumnus or alumna to the HDS community at large. Although he is, indeed, a Harvard alumnus (PhD ’67), there have been myriad dimensions to Williams’s influence on the Divinity School’s life since he became the first black member of the Faculty of Divinity decades ago. An ethics professor and noted expert on the theology of Martin Luther King, Jr., he has also served as Acting Dean; primary adviser to the black student organization Harambee; and, in general, as a quiet but persistent advocate of greater diversity at HDS. He is also the founding director of HDS’s Summer Leadership Institute, an intensive two-week training program for clergy and lay leaders from across the country who are involved in faith-based community and economic development.