Barbara Wheeler, recently retired president of Auburn Seminary and founder of the Center for the Study of Theological Education, was given the Excellence of Theological Education Award at the 219th General Assembly (2010) on Wednesday.

The Rev. Cynthia Campbell, president of McCormick Theological Seminary, applauded Wheeler as “someone who has done more than almost anyone else to shape theological education in the United States and Canada.”

Wheeler, who served for 30 years as Auburn’s president, thanked the Assembly for the standing ovation and urged attendees to feel satisfaction — and even that most un-Presbyterian of emotions, pride — in having the best theological school in the nation, and, perhaps, the world. 

“The real, most memorable excellence of theological education is not those who lead our institutions, but those who were formed by them,” said Wheeler. “Every minister who was trained in our seminaries, every elder who has read a book written by one of our theologians: You are the mark of excellence. I am proud to be in your company.”

The award was presented during the report of the committee in charge of reviewing General Assembly permanent committees. The assembly approved all recommendations by voice vote to commend the four committees for their work and to adopt new directions to adjust to changing times. The four committees are the Committee on Theological Education, the General Assembly Nominating Committee, the General Assembly Committee on Ecumenical Relations and the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy.