On Oct. 7, 2020, the recipients of the Woods Leadership Award and the Freeman Award for Merit were announced following the Wednesday Holy Eucharist in the University of the South’s All Saints’ Chapel. The awards were announced by the Very Rev. James F. Turrell, dean of the School of Theology, and presented by the University’s Vice-Chancellor Reuben Brigety.


Ashley Simpson, T’22, was named the recipient of the 2020 Woods Leadership Award, presented annually to a middler seminarian who has successfully assumed a leadership role in the class during their junior year.


Receiving this award is a tremendous honor and incredibly humbling,” said Simpson. “I have said that the community at The School of Theology is what drew me here. When I arrived, I wanted to give back to the community that would help form me in my ministry for the larger Episcopal Church. I want to thank The School of Theology community for allowing me to grow and flourish.


Simpson is an M.Div. student and a postulant for Holy Orders from the Diocese of East Carolina. She grew up in Roper, North Carolina, before going to boarding school at the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics in Durham, North Carolina. From there, she studied Marine Biology at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Simpson is currently a working group member of the University’s Roberson Project on Slavery, Race, and Reconciliation.


The Woods 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.


Christopher Schwenk, T’22, was named the recipient of the 2020 Freeman Award for Merit, an award honoring a rising middler student that has demonstrated outstanding academic performance and promise.


Schwenk shared, “I am humbled and honored to be recognized with the Freeman Award, and I thank Reed and Nancy Freeman for their generosity. I feel indebted to the School of Theology's brilliant faculty for their teaching, prayers, and encouragement. What a gift it is to be formed for ministry to God's people in a community like this.”


Schwenk is an M.Div. student from the Diocese of Pennsylvania. He is a 2017 (B.A.) and 2019 (M.A.) graduate of Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida. He recently participated in a project funded by the Episcopal Evangelism Society, Ministerios Latinos, and Trinity Church Wall Street to publish the first English translation of the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil's 2015 Book of Common Prayer. He serves the seminary community as a member of the School of Theology Schola Cantorum and as a tutor for students of pastoral Spanish. 


Reed Freeman, T’96, T’05, and his wife, Nancy, established the Freeman Award for Merit in 1998. Freeman was a recipient of the Woods Leadership Award while he was attending seminary at the School of Theology. 


The awards’ recipients are decided each year by the dean and faculty of the School of Theology.