Mississippi College

Chase Porter Receives Byrd Memorial Preaching Award

March 24, 2009

Mississippi College senior Chase Porter just about owns the Byrd Memorial Preaching Award. After all, he was named its recipient Tuesday for the third year in a row.

That's never been done before in the history of the award at MC. It is a cash award presented annually by the family of the late Mr. and Mrs. David Q Byrd, Sr., active supporters of Baptist-affiliated MC going back to the pre-World War II era.

"This is the third time in a row - that's unprecedented," said Wayne VanHorn, dean of the School of Christian Studies and the Arts. He was on hand with Byrd family members, President Lee Royce and others as Porter accepted the award. Moments later, Porter preached at chapel services at First Baptist Church, Clinton.

The award, VanHorn said, "is a testimony to his writing and communication skills. It is evidence of God's call for Chase to be a minister of the gospel."

Eric Pratt, vice president for Christian development, echoed those sentiments. Porter, a former Student Government Association vice president, displays superb writing skills, he said.

MC professors, including VanHorn, an MC student plus Dr. John Compton, pastor at First Baptist Church in Clinton, served as the contest judges. Students in the competition submit an expository sermon. Before making their selection, the judges didn't know the names of the students competing.

Majoring in Christian studies and philosophy, Porter is a talented speaker. He's won numerous awards and gained recognition around the South as captain of MC's debate team. He is the son of Mark and Donna Porter of Picayune, who joined him for the occasion at the church along College Street.

When he won the award for the first time two years ago, Porter said he always felt a calling to preach the Word of God. He noted he confirmed that calling with a public commitment to Christian ministry on July 28, 2002 after returning from a Centrifuge summer camp.

Members of the Byrd family taking part in Tuesday's award presentation included Harrell and Charlotte Byrd of Brandon and Ann Brian of Lubbock, Texas. The Texan attended MC as a freshman in 1962-1963, but returned home to earn her degree at Baylor University. She read a letter to the audience detailing her family's MC roots and deep love for the Christian university spanning several decades.

"This is our family's school and we do this because of our love for spreading God's word," Harrell Byrd said when presenting the award to Porter for the first time. Over the years - going back more than a decade - he's kept up with a number of the recipients. Many have become ministers.

For more information on the award, contact the MC School of Christian Studies and the Arts at 601.925.3297.

Photo: Dr. VanHorn, Ms. Ann Brian, Mrs. Charlotte Byrd, Chase Porter, Dr. Pratt, and Mr. Harrell Byrd

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