The 2011 Hal Brook Perry Award
Paul Benson Wehner
Priest, pastor, servant leader, comforter in word and deed. You were called in 2003 to lead Grace Church, Galveston, Texas not long after your graduation from this seminary. For five years, you led and cared for the congregation and its many ministries. Then, in 2008, a storm of great proportions dramatically intensified your leadership among the people you had been serving and the Galveston community.
Hurricane Ike did not spare you and your family, and it brought you face to face with significant damage to the historic church property and devastating personal loss for your parishioners. The storm hit the island on Saturday, and you ministered to a shocked congregation on Sunday morning.
You were in touch with your parishioners every day following the storm. Through email you reached out to locate each one scattered by the destruction. You kept them apprised of the status of their homes and the rebuilding that followed.
With your parishioners you transformed the parish hall into a food, help, and prayer distribution site. When people came to the church for assistance and comfort, you formed teams to respond. You coordinated local, diocesan, regional and national assistance during the days, weeks and months that followed the storm. You coordinated repairs to the church and facilitated Episcopal Relief and Development assistance to people in need.
The website for Grace cites its history on the island, where major storms have defined the identity of the people, the land, and the structures:“A survivor of the 1900 Storm and more recently Hurricane Ike (2008), Grace continues to stand strong in our community and serves as a spiritual home for a diverse congregation.”
In hospital rooms, in sanctuaries, and in homes, in times of recovery and in ordinary time, you share hope, compassion and the grace of God with your people. In recognition of your faithful ministry, we are delighted to award you the 2011 Hal Brook Perry Distinguished Alumni Award.
Douglas Travis Chad Vaughn
Dean and President Alumni Association