Methodist Theological School in Ohio has presented Paulette Buford-James, Grace Imathiu and David MacDonald with the John and Ruth Mount Alumni Awards for Distinguished Service, the school’s highest honor for graduates. MTSO President Jay Rundell presented the awards at a Sept. 26 luncheon during Alumni Day.
Buford-James, who earned a Master of Divinity degree from MTSO in 2013, is superintendent of the Starkville District of the Mississippi Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Rundell shared comments from Mississippi Conference Bishop James E. Swanson Sr., who wrote of Buford-James, “Her wisdom, insight, innovation, knowledge of the United Methodist Book of Discipline, love for her congregations and parsonage families, coupled with her deep commitment to live out a disciplined life in Christ Jesus, have been an asset to our team.”
“I’m honored and thankful for my journey here at MTSO,” Buford-James said. “Thank you all for this honor. Thank you all for allowing me to be stretched in many ways while I was here.”
Praising Imathiu, a 1987 Master of Divinity graduate, Rundell said, “Grace is pastor of First United Methodist Church in Evanston, Illinois, one of the storied pulpits of Methodism.” He called her address to MTSO’s 2022 graduating class “simply one of the most amazing commencement addresses I’ve ever heard.”
“I am honored beyond words,” Imathiu said, “and I am thankful that, with God’s amazing storytelling abilities, my story has got so many amazing, amazing threads – most of all, the beautiful thread called MTSO.”
MacDonald, who holds a 2002 Master of Divinity degree from MTSO, is university chaplain at Ohio Northern University. Rundell shared a letter from recently retired ONU President Daniel DiBiasio, who wrote of MacDonald, “His accessibility, relatability and dependable sense of humor are abundantly evident in his work, whether he is preaching, conducting a mindfulness workshop or meeting a student for coffee.”
Accepting his award, MacDonald said, “I think this is especially poignant because this is my 20th year since I graduated from MTSO in 2002. This place was the launching point for my ministry in so many ways, thanks to the excellent and caring faculty and staff and the ministry colleagues and lifelong friends that I made while I was here.”
The Mount Alumni Awards were created in 1990 to recognize graduates of MTSO who have achieved vocational distinction. The award program was created by the late John Mount, a founding MTSO Board of Trustees member, and his late wife, Ruth.
Methodist Theological School in Ohio provides theological education and leadership in pursuit of a just, sustainable and generative world. In addition to the Master of Divinity degree, the school offers master’s degrees in practical theology, social justice and theological studies, along with a Doctor of Ministry degree.
Danny Russell, communications director