Date: May 31, 2023
It was a joy this May to award Prof. James W. Farwell, Ph.D., the Suzanne F. Thomas Award for Faculty Research. Established in July 2005, the prize honors Suzanne F. Thomas and her commitment to excellence in education and the mission of the Episcopal Church.
The award is given in light of two recent and significant texts by James, namely, Ritual Excellence: Best Practices for Leading and Planning Liturgy (Seabury, 2003), and a volume co-edited with Martha Moore-Keish: T&T Clark Handbook of Sacraments and Sacramentality (T&T Clark, 2023).
The Handbook is a large and significant contribution to the academic study of the sacraments. Farwell and Moore-Keish bring together 37 thoughtful and field-influencing articles dealing with sacramentality, the biblical and historical foundations of sacraments and sacramentality, and issues related to particular sacraments.
Ritual Excellence is aimed at a broader audience, namely all who plan, lead, and engage in worship. Approaching liturgical leadership as “the primary act of pastoral care,” Farwell sets out the major principles at work in good liturgical practice, and gives guidance for making liturgical choices. One reviewed aptly noted that the book is “marked by profound theology and deep humanity,” and I have thoroughly enjoyed reading it this spring.
These recent publications stand alongside Farwell’s other contributions in the area of liturgics, including This is the Night: Suffering, Salvation, and the Liturgies of Holy Week (T&T Clark 2005); and The Liturgy Explained (2nd ed. Morehouse 2013). Please join me in congratulating James on receiving the Thomas Award this year.
The Rev. Melody D. Knowles, Ph.D.
Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Chief Academic Officer
Associate Professor of Old Testament
Virginia Theological Seminary and General Theological Seminary