2016 Hal Brook Perry Distinguished Alumni Award
Susan G. McCann
Alumna, priest of the church, advocate for the dignity of all people. Your ministry at Grace Episcopal Church in Liberty, Missouri has been characterized as justice-making, and the nomination for your award stated, “When I think of Susan, I see someone who truly embodies Jesus’ mandate to love all our neighbors – to be Jesus’ hands, feet and voice in our world.”
You were ordained to the priesthood in 1996 six months after your graduation from Seminary of the Southwest. Then Bishop of the Diocese of West Missouri John C. Buchanan appointed you vicar of Church of the Messiah, a self-described struggling mission. Four years later with your leadership that mission became a parish with a new name, Grace Church.
Earlier this summer, Grace Church celebrated the 20-year anniversary of your ordained ministry and your leadership and pastoral care among them. The proclamation for the celebration highlighted the physical and spiritual expansion the congregation has enjoyed: successful capital campaigns to build a new worship space, to improve the parish hall, and to create a playground for their children; outreach ministries focused on feeding hungry people which has led to a Jubilee Center designation by the Episcopal Church; and for the first time in its 30-plus year history, women and girls serve fully in all aspects of the parish’s life.
You have led the parish to hospitality and full incorporation of all people. Your passion for justice has led you to work with other community leaders to confront the payday loan industry, to support a livable minimum wage and health benefits for workers, to reform immigration laws, and to support rights for LGBTQ persons and same sex marriage rights. You were among the 23 faith leaders arrested in 2014 for your peaceful protest in the Senate Gallery pressing for Medicaid expansion in the State of Missouri.
Your own advocacy has received praise and recognition, but you shine the light on workers doing the holy work of fighting for justice for their families and their communities. Speaking for faith leaders supporting this work, you said, “We need you to win because when you win everyone in the community wins . . . we share the same vision, a moral economy.” Your seminary and its Alumni Association are honored to present this distinguished alumni award to you who gives the whole of yourself to your ministry, epitomizing the spirit of Hal Brook Perry.
Cynthia Briggs Kittredge Stephen Kidd
Dean and President Alumni Association President