It was The Reverend Kristen Gerner Vaughn, a 1999 alumna of Catawba College, a United Church of Christ minister and a mother of three, who was honored February 14 as the recipient of the 2011 Catawba's Campus Ministry Church/College Award.
Vaughn, pastor of Brick UCC in Whitsett, was lauded for her service to both the Church and Catawba College during a dinner event held in Peeler Crystal Lounge on campus. She was the fifth recipient of the award presented to her by College President Dr. Craig Turner.
The event was an opportunity to affirm and nurture the long-standing relationship between Catawba and the people who founded the College nearly 160 years ago. Representatives from churches that support the campus ministry and the Lilly Center at Catawba gathered with members of the Catawba Board of Trustees and Catawba students who are preparing for vocations of service to the Church to celebrate. They enjoyed an informative presentation by students about the work that is being done at the College to prepare students to serve in a variety of ministry roles. The celebration included the awarding of Catawba's Campus Ministry Church/College Award and the Paul Fisher Service Awards.
Vaughn became a student at Catawba because of the college's relationship to her home church, Mt. Hope UCC in Whitsett. While a student, she demonstrated her commitment to service by coordinating the campus Fellowship of Christian Athletes organization and helping to plan and lead spiritual growth retreats for her classmates. As a student, she was a Catawba Singer and served as the swim coach for Special Olympics of Rowan County. She was consistently named on the Presidential Honor Roll for her academic success and was the recipient of the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award. She also found time to serve as a youth director for First Presbyterian Church in Salisbury.
After graduating from Catawba, she was accepted as a student in the inaugural class of the Wake Forest University Divinity School and was a member of the first graduating class of that institution. Her first job was as a chaplain at Wake Forest Baptist Hospital in Winston–Salem and then as the Cancer Center Chaplain for Forsyth Regional Hospital. Even as she worked, she continued her education with courses in counseling.
She was called to serve as Youth Minister at Peace UCC in Greensboro and then to serve as Associate Minister for Youth and Children at Pilgrimage United Church of Christ in Marietta, Georgia. During this time, she was the driving force behind the development of the Southeastern Winter Youth Retreat that since its inception has brought thousands of youth to the mountains of North Carolina to be nurtured in their faith and to grow spiritually. In 2008, she was called to her current pastorate at Brick UCC.
Since her graduation, Vaughn has continued to give back to Catawba, by involving Catawba students in leadership growth opportunities and by returning to campus to speak to classes and groups about vocations. She has also assisted in promoting the college to prospective students at various receptions.
Catawba's Campus Ministry Church/College Award was presented for the first time in 2008. Its inaugural recipients were Claude Abernethy, Jr. and Wade Hampton Shuford, Jr. '50. Other recipients include the Reverend Dr. Richard Albright Cheek '47 in 2009 and The Reverend Dr. Thomas R. Hamilton '55 of Newton in 2010.
Paul Fisher Service Award Recipients
A former First Lady of Catawba College and this year's president of the senior class were honored as recipients of Paul Fisher Service Awards. Mr. Paul Fisher, chairman of the Catawba College Board of Trustees and the person for whom the awards are named, made the presentations to former First Lady Jean Wurster, widow of Catawba's 18th President Dr. Stephen H. Wurster (1981-1992), and Kendrick Mayes of Fayetteville.
Fisher, who serves as chairman of the board of F&M Bank, set an example for volunteerism through his own life, and his bank makes possible these awards as a way of honoring him and encouraging others to follow his example. The awards are presented annually through Volunteer Catawba.
Wurster's Paul Fisher Service Award was presented in recognition of her commitment to service as demonstrated by her personal investment of time and talent in serving as a dedicated volunteer and on the Board of Directors for various nonprofit organizations including: Rowan Helping Ministries, the ARC of Rowan, Communities in Schools, and the Center for the Faith in the Arts. The award also recognizes her service as a member and leader in the congregation of First Presbyterian Church where she serves as a church elder, a member of a mission team traveling to Brazil, and a member of the adult and bell choirs. At Catawba, Wurster is a committed member of the Staff Council, the Chiefs Club and numerous other campus organizations.
Mayes' Paul Fisher Service Award was presented in recognition of his commitment to volunteerism and service to others as demonstrated by his personal investment of time and talent in visiting residents of the Lutheran Home at Trinity Oaks and assisting participants in the Visually Impaired Population Putt-Putt Tournament, and other monthlyEvents sponsored by the Special Populations Program of the Salisbury Parks and Recreation Department. As president of both the senior class and the Catawba College Majors Club, Mayes provides leadership and serves an as example to other student-volunteers through projects benefitting Habitat for Humanity and local schoolchildren through the "Hoop it up for Books" initiative.