Virginia seminary recognizes Harry G. Chase for lay leadership, Joseph S. Pagano for preaching

January 27, 2010

Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria has awarded the 2010 Lettie Pate Whitehead Evans (LPWE) Award to Harry G. Chase from East Tennessee, while the Rev. Dr. Joseph S. Pagano, rector of Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Baltimore, Maryland, was named the 2010 recipient of its John Hines Preaching Award.

"We warmly congratulate Mr. Harry Chase and thank him for the crucially important ministry he is providing," said the Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, VTS' dean and president. "It is thanks to people such as Mr. Chase that the church has the impact it does in society."

Chase was selected by the LPWE Committee because he has dedicated his life to volunteering as an independent family advocate with rural communities in the Central Appalachia, supporting families through a range of programs and a summer camp. Since retiring from business in 1998, he has worked hard to break the cycles of "generational poverty" which trap and isolate children, often times just outside official organizations reach.

"I remain independent," explains Chase, "because it detaches me from the formalities and history attached with formal establishments. Over the years groups and individuals have come in, tried to solve a problem, and left without achieving their aims. Cycles of coming in and backing out have created a wall of distrust of outsiders and residents. There continues to be a lack of knowledge about the gravity of the social problems that exist."

Further information about Chase and the LPWE award is available here.

The John Hines Preaching Award was named in honor of the former Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church and celebrates the ministry of preaching and its importance in the church by recognizing outstanding sermons that are deeply grounded in scripture and focused on the seen and unseen needs of the worshipping community, the nation and the world.

Pagano's sermon, "Babushkas and Other Prophets," tells the story of James Billington, a Librarian of Congress, who was in Moscow during the closing days of the Cold War. He witnesses an amazing act of bravery from the older women -- "The Babushkas" -- who kept the Orthodox Church alive in Russia during the Communist period. "Some of the Babushkas climbed onto the tanks and peered through the slits at the crew-cut men inside, and told them that there were new orders, these from God: Thou shall not kill."

"There is a popular misconception that prophets are people who predict the future," said Pagano. "A prophet is someone who speaks on behalf of their religious tradition, speaks on behalf of God, speaks on behalf of justice and mercy, and speaks on behalf of those who have no one to speak for them, folks like the widow, the orphan and the sojourner."

Further information about Pagano, the award and for the full text of the sermon, click here.