Published on April 19, 2017 by Kristen Padilla  
Divinity Alumni 2017 Combined

This spring semester, Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School recognized three alumni for their service and ministry to the Lord.

Jason R. McConnell (D.Min. 2011) received the Doctor of Ministry Distinguished Alumnus of the Year Award during community worship Tuesday, April 18. McConnell has served as pastor of two small churches in rural Vermont for the last 14 years. His dissertation was on rural church ministry and speaks on the topic of rural ministry across the country.

In 2016, Franklin United Church received a Lilly Endowment grant to enable McConnell to participate in the 2016 National Clergy Renewal Program, which will allow him to be on sabbatical this summer. 

“Jason is a solid preacher and teacher of God’s Word who practices serious theological reflection on the practice of ministry,” said Mark Searby, director of D.Min. Studies at the divinity school.

On Feb. 28, Wayne and Mary Splawn (M.Div. 2007) were the first corecipients of the Master of Divinity Distinguished Alumni of the Year Award. It is also the first time Beeson Divinity School has given this award to a married couple. Ten years earlier, they were the first corecipients of the divinity school’s Distinguished Student Award in 2007.

Wayne Splawn is associate minister of Mountain Brook Baptist Church, where he works with young professionals, young married couples and associate deacons. He also preaches monthly in the contemporary worship service.

Mary Splawn is minister of connections at Mountain Brook Baptist Church, where she provides leadership for the varied women’s ministry programs, helps new members connect with service and discipleship opportunities, and manages the Christian Life Center and family life programs. She also serves on the divinity school’s alumni advisory board and as a peer-group mentor for the supervised practicum component of its curriculum.

“Wayne and Mary Splawn are both God-called ministers of the gospel who serve the Lord’s church with integrity and compassion,” said Dean Timothy George. “I am delighted that they have been chosen to receive and to share Beeson’s prestigious Distinguished Alumni Award for this year.”

Kristen Padilla is marketing and communication coordinator for Beeson Divinity School.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.