Servant Leadership Award presented to Irit Umani

September 8, 2014
Dean and President Cynthia Briggs Kittredge, left, with Ms. Irit Umani.

Dean and President Cynthia Briggs Kittredge, left, with Ms. Irit Umani.

[Seminary of the Southwest] Servant leadership, “the disposition of the heart to put the good of the whole at the center of one’s vocation” is front and center at Seminary of the Southwest’s Matriculation Evensong each September. Since the retirement of much loved professor of pastoral theology, the Rev. Charlie Cook in 2008, the faculty of the seminary has chosen someone who exemplifies a ministry of servanthood to receive the Charles J. Cook Award in Servant Leadership.

This year, the faculty selected Ms. Irit Umani, executive director of Trinity Center in Austin, Texas to receive the 2014 award. Trinity Center cares for Austin neighbors who are living on the streets or in shelters near the downtown St. David’s Episcopal Church, which birthed the outreach ministry years ago.

“Humanitarian, peace activist, spiritual guide, educator, advocate for the marginalized and friend of the homeless” began the citation for the Israeli-born Ms. Umani. “You have said that the path of service is not that of the preacher or the prophet; rather, it is the path of the Levite who keeps the temple clean and makes certain that there is oil for the lamp.”

Accepting the award at Matriculation on September 7, Ms. Umani expressed her hope that the students beginning or continuing their studies and formation would find themselves at graduation “more in love with God and more in love with their neighbor” than they are today.

Previous recipients of the Cook Award in Servant Leadership include Judith A. Rhedin, the Rev. Helen Appelberg, Jennifer Long, the Rev. Zane Wilemon and George L. McGonigle.