2012-2013 ESSAY PRIZE-WINNER FOR DOCTORAL CANDIDATES
photo by Kim Schmidt
melanie a. howard
"Jesus Loves the Little Children:
A Theological Reading of Mark 9:14-29 for Children withSerious Illnesses or Disabilities"
Melanie A. Howard, a PhD student in Biblical Studies (New Testament) at Princeton Theological Seminary, has been named the 2012-2013 winner of the annual Word & World Essay Prize for Doctoral Candidates. Word & World: Theology for Christian Ministry is the quarterly journal published by the faculty of Luther Seminary, Saint Paul, Minnesota.
Howard’s winning essay will be published in the journal’s Summer 2013 issue. With the essay, Howard examines Mark’s story of the boy mute since childhood (Mark 9:14-29) with the goal of providing pastors with a resource, perhaps an undiscovered one, to use when counseling children with illnesses or disabilities and their caregivers.
Howard’s essay emerged as the winner from a group of entries submitted by doctoral candidates in religion and theology from major US seminaries and universities. In addition to having her essay published, Howard will receive a cash prize of $1000.
Melanie Howard holds a BA degree in biblical studies from Messiah College (2007) and an MTS degree in biblical studies from the University of Notre Dame (2010). She is an adjunct instructor at Messiah College and a teaching assistant at Princeton. Howard is a member of the Mennonite Church USA and has served both past and present churches as a worship coordinator. She continues to exercise her “passion for meaningful and creative worship” by writing the weekly liturgy for her present congregation in Kingston, New Jersey.
Howard’s concern that her scholarship not be separated from the real-life difficulties of her neighbors in the pew has led her to work on a dissertation examining the role of mothers in the Gospel of Mark, especially the role of Mary, the mother of Jesus, who appears so little in that gospel. Howard writes, “I am keenly aware of the struggles and sacrifices of women who have risked much for the sake of their children’s well-being. My dissertation is but a meager acknowledgement that it has often been nameless mothers who have instigated radical change throughout the course of history.”
Howard was born and raised in south central Pennsylvania, where much of her family still resides. A marathon runner, she now lives in Princeton, enjoying the support of her husband Jeremiah and her “faithful maltipoo Muffy.”
The annual Word & World essay contest, now in its thirteenth year, was designed by the journal’s editorial board to provide incentive for doctoral candidates to write directly for the Christian church during a time in their careers when their work is generally focused more specifically within the academic world.
Doctoral students interested in entering the 2013-2014 essay contest can find more information here.
Copies of the Summer issue, which will contain Howard’s essay, can be ordered from Word & World, 2481 Como Ave., St. Paul, MN, 55108 (651-641-3482; firstname.lastname@example.org).