Laura Shelton Mendenhall ’69 received the Austin College James I. McCord Award during the Grace Presbytery meeting on campus last fall. The award, which honors alumni who have made outstanding contributions to the life of the Presbyterian Church (USA) on a national level, was established by the College’s Board of Trustees in 1999 in conjunction with the College Sesquicentennial.
Following her Austin College education, Laura earned graduate degrees at the Presbyterian School of Christian Education and San Francisco Theological Seminary, and a doctorate at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. She then served as a Bible professor in Virginia, a Presbyterian Church missionary in Zaire, and held numerous posts among Presbyterian congregations in Florida and Texas. She also served nine years as president of Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia, retiring in 2009. She now serves as senior philanthropy advisor at Texas Presbyterian Foundation.
Receiving the award, Laura thanked the Austin College community for “all the ways you have nurtured, encouraged, and challenged me and for the ways you have held me accountable for the education I received.” She added, “I wear the ACtivator T-shirt that says, ‘God gave us brains and expects us to use them.’ Therefore, I am grateful to the Presbyterian Church (folks like you) for your willingness to receive the offering I wanted to make. I do not take it for granted that I have been allowed to serve the church. What a great adventure it is to be part of what God is doing to bring reconciliation and hope and justice and peace.”