Ken Kovacs wins First-Book Award Reply

Ken Kovacs wins First-Book Award     

Kenneth E. Kovacs

The winner of the First Book Award this year is Kenneth E. Kovacs, for his book The Relational Theology of James E. Loder, Encounter and Conviction, published in July of 2011 by Peter Lang.

The Presbyterian Writers Guild (PWG) panel of judges voted to give the award to Kovacs for superior writing skills evident in this effort to make a scholarly work understandable and interesting. In a letter accompanying his book, the winning author told the judges: “Although it was written for an academic audience, it was really composed with the Church in mind.  I see myself as pastor-theologian and approached the text with this kind of awareness.”

Kenneth Kovacs is pastor of Catonsville Presbyterian Church inCatonsville,Maryland. He has also served churches inSt. Andrews,Scotland, andMendham,NJ. He studied atRutgersCollege,YaleDivinitySchool, theUniversityofSt. AndrewsinScotland, and Princeton Theological Seminary, where he encountered the relational theology of James E. Loder.

The First Book Award, formerly called the Angell Award, is given for the best first book published by a Presbyterian author. Books for this year’s award had to have been published in calendar year 2011. The Presbyterian Publishing Corporation has agreed to take over funding for the award and to give the award a new name. Previous funding came from the late Jim Angell, a noted writer and Presbyterian minister.

Two writers from opposite geographical corners of the country tied for second place this year.  Craig L. Godwin, in Spokane, Washington, wrote A Year of Plenty, describing thoughts, adventures and challenges during the year his family pledged to consume only what was local, used, homegrown or homemade. Their adventures in simple Christian living are described with thoughtful humor in this book, published by Spark House in 2011; and in his popular blog ( 

Nancy Kilgore, a minister member of Boston Presbytery living inVermont, had a novel, Sea Level, published by Quinnebec Press and The Resource Center for Women and Ministry in the South. The setting for Sea Level isRichmondand a small town across the bay inVirginia. The novel follows the joys and struggles of a young woman minister and her family in the early 1980’s. The PWG panel of judges thought it was interesting, well crafted and true to the realities of that decade.

Honorable Mention goes to Charles Davidson, Beth Patton, and Mark W. Stoub.  Davidson wrote a book based on letters from Vincent Van Gogh to his brother, entitled Bone Dead and Rising: Vincent Van Gogh and the Self Before God, published by Cascade Books in 2011. Davidson is a member of Peaks Presbytery, currently teaching pastoral theology and history at Virginia University of Lynchburg.

Beth Patton wrote and had published in 2011 a series of educational materials for women about women in the Bible, entitled The Red Tent Gathering. She lives inFullerton,CA, and is currently a candidate for Teaching Elder under the care of Los Ranchos Presbytery.

Mark W. Stoub wrote a mystery novel about a presbytery executive who became theTexasversion of Hercule Poirot when he investigated murders in Blood Under the Altar,  published by Bald Angel Books.  A Presbyterian minister for 35 years, Stoub lives inBay City,Texas

PWG board member Jane Hines, who convened the panel of First Book Award judges inNashville,TN, said, “Reading the books was a pleasant task; the hard part was choosing just one winner. They were all winners.”