On Sept. 29, the recipient of the Woods Leadership Award and the Freeman Award for Merit was announced during the School of Theology’s Alumni Lectures and Homecoming dinner.  For the second time in the recent past, one seminarian was the recipient of both awards—Kelton Riley, T’23. The news was announced by the Very Rev. James F. Turrell, dean of the School of Theology, and presented by the University Vice-Chancellor Reuben Brigety.


Riley is a middler-year seminarian from rural Limestone County in the Diocese of Alabama. Before coming to the School of Theology, he studied German at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama, and history, English, and religion at Athens State University in Athens, Alabama. Riley relayed gratitude to his sending parish St. Timothy’s-Athens, Alabama, and to his field-ed parish, Thankful Memorial Parish, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for their work in his Christian formation. Riley currently serves the School of Theology as a sacristan, a choir member, and that-guy-who-unjams-the-printer.  


Receiving these awards has been profoundly humbling and a great, great honor,” said Riley. “It has instilled in me an even deeper desire to serve my class, one so filled with amazing, brilliant students. I will strive even more to live up to the great trust that has been placed in me through these awards. Thank you. Thank you.” 


The Woods Leadership Award is presented annually to a middler seminarian who has successfully assumed a leadership role in the class during their junior year. The award defines leadership as the ability to bring people together into a cooperative community to accomplish assigned tasks and to identify and implement strategies, goals, and programs. Established by Granville Cecil Woods and James Albert Woods, the award recognizes students of the School of Theology who make a significant contribution to the quality of the community’s life.


 The Freeman Award for Merit was established in 1998 by Reed Freeman and his wife, Nancy, to honor and reward a rising middler student of the School of Theology who has demonstrated outstanding academic performance and promise. Freeman, T’96, T’05, was a recipient of the Woods Leadership Award while attending the School of Theology. Freeman and his wife made the trip to Sewanee this year for the Alumni Lectures and were in attendance at the evening’s dinner.


The awards’ recipients are decided each year by the dean and faculty of the School of Theology. “The faculty admire Kelton Riley’s work ethic and engagement, and it is a joy to be able to recognize him publicly for his contributions to the intellectual and community life of the School,” said Turrell.

Pictured above: Riley, center, with Reed and Nancy Freeman.


 September 2021