Nominated by fellow alumni, McCormick’s Distinguished Alumnus/a Award represents a special acknowledgment of the importance and impact McCormick alumni have within the church and their world as Christ’s hands and feet. This year, McCormick honors Dr. Pauline Coffman (MA ’64) and Rev. Trey Hammond (MDiv ’80).
An educator, author, and activist, Dr. Pauline Coffman is known for her faithful service to the regional and national bodies of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and her commitment to peace and justice in the Middle East. Her many accomplishments include coordinating an alliance that helped integrate schools in Dallas, leading the Middle East Task Force of the Presbytery of Chicago, and serving as the Dean of Student Life at McCormick Theological Seminary for six years. Over her professional career, she worked for five educational institutions, using her many degrees in profoundly effective ways for students, colleagues, and her community. She is one of the authors of Zionism Unsettled: A Congregational Study Guide, and Zionism and the Quest for Justice in the Holy Land. Dr. Coffman is a member of the Chicago Faith Coalition on Middle East Policy and serves as the moderator of the Syria/Lebanon Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
“All who know Dr. Coffman know of her very extensive knowledge and devotion to a peaceful and just resolution to the long-standing conflict in the Middle East,” says Rev. David Bebb Jones (MDiv ’62), pastor emeritus of Presbyterian Church of Western Springs. “She has been a leader in religious efforts to understand and address the complex issues that face that region of the world.”
Dr. Coffman and her husband, Rev. Dr. Robert Coffman (MTS BD ’63), have been a part of the faith community of First United Church of Oak Park for 28 years. She’s served on her church council as a ruling elder and was responsible for planning and maintaining the church’s ongoing relationship with a mosque in a nearby community. Her commitment to the work of the church has been local, national, and international in scope.
For his relentless work alongside homeless, poor, and disenfranchised people, and his belief that the church exists for others, Rev. Trey Hammond models a shepherd’s love for his congregation and a prophet’s hunger for social transformation.
Before coming to Albuquerque in 1999 as pastor of La Mesa Presbyterian Church, Rev. Hammond served in the Urban Ministry Office of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and as pastor in three urban parishes in Dallas. He helped found Uncle Calvin’s, a church coffeehouse that has been an acoustical music showcase for 33 years. He was involved in the start-up of three homeless programs, as well as providing leadership for rehabbing an abandoned property into 300 units of affordable housing. Rev. Hammond’s passion has always been focused on helping urban congregations in multicultural settings engage issues of hunger, homelessness, poverty, education, housing, and community organizing. Rev. Hammond is the founding president of the Albuquerque Opportunity Center, a men’s shelter that coordinates a citywide “housing first” model. For 14 years, he has co-chaired Albuquerque Interfaith, a community organization working on immigrant rights and public education. At the church, he helped initiate the La Mesa Arts Academy, a free after-school arts program with a neighboring elementary school, as well as the La Mesa Neighborhood Garden Park. Working with the Presbyterian Hunger Program, Rev. Hammond supports community organizing efforts nationally. In 2001, he edited “Homelessness: The Church Responds to an Enduring Tragedy” for Church and Society. In 2008, he wrote a study guide for the book Places of Promise, Finding Strength in Your Church’s Location.
“Rev. Hammond is a servant leader, community builder, pastor, organizer, a lover of urban communities and their people,” says Rev. Phil Tom (MDiv ’76), interim pastor of Eastchester Presbyterian Church, Bronx, N.Y. “Who knows how many people in Dallas and Albuquerque have a home because of his work. To Rev. Hammond and the La Mesa Church, congregational transformation and serving the larger community go hand in hand. McCormick has prepared him well for this work.”
This article was written by Maisie Sparks and first appeared in the McCormick Annual Report for 2015.