Awards offered by Presbyterian Writers Guild 1

David Steele Distinguished Writer Award

The biennial David Steele Distinguished Writer Award, named after the late poet, essayist, and humorist, is given to recognize the cumulative work and influence of a Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) writer.

The Writers Guild Board selects a member of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) who has distinguished himself or herself in the fields of journalism, literature, or scholarly writing. At the biennial General Assembly luncheon, the writer is presented with a plaque and a check for $1,000 and is asked to make a speech.

Recipients of the David Steele Distinguished Writer Award in recent years:

2021-2022  No award given

2019-2020 Jane Kurtz, author of more than 35 children’s books and daughter of Presbyterian mission workers in Ethiopia

2017-2018 James E. “Jim” Atwood, a Presbyterian minister, author, and nationally recognized voice on the subject of gun violence prevention

2015-2016 Mary Ann McKibben Dana, a Presbyterian minister, blogger, and author of Sabbath in the Suburbs (Chalice Press, 2012)

2013-2014 Kathleen Bostrom, a Presbyterian minister and author of more than three dozen books, most for children

2011-2012  John Buchanan, editor/publisher of The Christian Century and former pastor of Fourth Presbyterian Church, Chicago

2009-2010  Eugene H. Peterson, author of more than 30 books including The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language (NavPress Publishing Group, 2002)

2007-2008  Marj Carpenter, former director of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) News Service and winner of more than 150 writing awards

2005-2006  Gayraud S. Wilmore, theological school professor and author of scholarly articles and books on African-American religion

2004  Eva Stimson, editor of Presbyterians Today

2003  Bill Tammeus, Kansas City Star columnist and author of Eyes to See and Ears to Hear: Writing that Offers the Gift of Meaning

2002  Jack Rogers, author of Presbyterian Creeds: A Guide to the Book of Confessions and other books

2001  Edwin G. Burrows, co-author of the 1999 Pulitzer Prize winning book, Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898 and history professor at Brooklyn College

2000  Gustav Niebuhr, writer on religious affairs for the New York Times

1999  Holmes Rolston III, professor of philosophy at Colorado State University and author of Genes, Genesis and God

1998  Doris Betts, author of the novel The Sharp Teeth of Love

1997  Kathleen Norris, author of Dakota: A Spiritual Geography, Cloister Walk, and Amazing Grace

1996  Ann Weems, poet and most recently author of Putting the Amazing Back in Grace

Best First Book (formerly Angell) Award

This award is given biennially to a Presbyterian author whose first book (published during the previous two-year period) is judged to be outstanding. Here are the winners since 1996:

2021-2022 Bill Chadwick, for his book Still Laughing, Still Learning (Still Looking for a Good Title) (Beaver’s Pond Press)

2019-2020 Caroline Kurtz, for her book A Road Called Down on Both Sides: Growing Up in Ethiopia and America (Catalyst Press)

2015-2016 Jeanne Bishop of Winnetka, IL, for her book Change of Heart: Justice, Mercy, and Making Peace with My Sister’s Killer (Westminster John Knox Press)

2013-2014 Robert John Andrews of Danville, PA, for his book Nathaniel’s Call (self-published)

2012  Kenneth E. Kovacs of Catonsville, MD, for his book The Relational Theology of James E. Loder: Encounter and Conviction (Peter Lang)

2011  Gregory Anderson Love of San Francisco for his book Love, Violence, and the Cross: How the Nonviolent God Saves Us Through the Cross of Christ (Cascade Books)

2010  Rebecca Barnes-Davies of Louisville, KY, for her book, 50 Ways to Help Save the Earth: How You and Your Church Can Help Make a Difference (Westminster John Knox Press)

2009  Linda Raymond Ellison and Bill Ellison of Louisville, KY, for their book Like Jacob’s Well: The Very Human History of Highland Presbyterian Church (Beechmont Press)

2008 Mary Frances Chupick Bennett of Kerrville, TX, for her book Invitation to Cat Spring: From European Tyranny to Freedom to Civil War (AuthorHouse)

2007 Bud Frimoth of Portland, OR, for his book Bring in the Clowns: A Metaphor for Ministry (Pleasant Word, a division of Wine Press)

2006 Laurel McKay Horton of Seneca, SC, for her book Mary Black’s Family Quilts: Memory and Meaning in Everyday Life (University of South Carolina Press).

2005  John H. Barden of Fulton, MO, for his book ‘Postle Jack Tales: Gospel Images in New Appalachian Folktales (KiwE Publishing, Ltd)

2004 Ruth Linnea Whitney, of Port Townsend, WA, for her book Slim (Southern Methodist University Press)

2003 Carol J. Morrison of North Bend, WA, for her book Catching On: Love With an Avid Fly Fisher (Freestone Press)

2002 Gary Charles of Alexandria, VA, for his book The Bold Alternative: Staying in Church in the 21st Century (Geneva Press)

2001 Stephen P. McCutchan of Winston Salem, NC, for his book Experiencing the Psalms: Weaving the Psalms into Your Ministry and Faith (Smyth & Helwys)

2000  James O. Chatham of Louisville, KY, for his book Sundays Down South: A Pastor’s Stories (University of Mississippi Press)

1999  Cathy Cummings Chisholm of Vandalia, IL, for her book Landscapes of the Heart (Bridge Resources)

1998  Duke Robinson of Oakland, CA, for his book Good Intentions: The Nine Unconscious Mistakes of Nice People (Warner Books)

1997  Bard Young of Nashville, TN, for his book The Snake of God (Black Belt Press)

1996  Shelly E. Cochran of Rochester, NY, for The Pastor’s Underground Guide to the Revised Common Lectionary (Chalice Press)

TO NOMINATE a book and author for the Best First Book Award, contact Jerry Van Marter: 

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