Awards & Recognitions
While it cannot be done in person this year, the 224th General Assembly (2020) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is presenting the church’s Crystal Teardrop Awards to seven individuals for their contributions to making the world a better place.
Gun Violence Prevention
The Reverend Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the PC(USA), has recognized the Reverend Deanna Hollas, the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship’s coordinator of Gun Violence Prevention Ministry. Hollas is the first minister of gun violence prevention.
Through webinars, videos, newsletters, and other educational tools, Hollas works to encourage congregations to get more involved in their communities to end gun violence and restore safety to citizens.
A bi-vocational pastor, Donald Gaffney became involved in gun violence prevention following the shooting deaths of twenty-six people, including twenty children, at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Gaffney was an alumnus of the school.
He is the author of the book, Common Ground: Talking about Gun Violence in America, which offers a historical view on guns and gun violence, the legal issues around gun rights, and ways that people can work to resolve the problem of gun violence in America.
The Reverend Jim Atwood is a pastor, missionary, and author of several books about gun violence including, Gundamentalism and Where It Is taking America and America and Its Guns: A Theological Expose, among others.
A gun owner himself, Atwood says his work is not about taking guns away from gun owners, but helping them understand guns will not make their communities safer.
Women of NASA
Dr. Nelson also recognizes four women for their contributions to the U.S. space program. The four were mathematicians working for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and were featured in Margot Lee Shetterly’s, Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race, which was adapted into a biographical film in 2016.
Dr. Christine Darden
Dr. Christine Darden devoted most of her forty-year career at NASA focusing on aerodynamics, researching supersonic flight and sonic booms. She was the first African American woman at NASA’s Langley Research Center to be promoted into the Senior Executive Service, the top rank in the federal civil service. She was also one of the researches featured in Hidden Figures. Darden was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 2019.
Dorothy Johnson Vaughan
Dorothy Johnson Vaughan, was the first African American woman to supervise a group of staff working at Langley Research Center and helped introduce computers in the early 1960s. Seeing that computers were a part of the future, Vaughan became proficient in computer programming and taught her coworkers to prepare for the transition. She died in 2008 at the age of 98.
Dorothy’s daughter, Ann Vaughan Hammond accepted the award on her mother’s behalf.
Katherine Johnson’s mathematical skills and calculations were critical to the success of the first and following U.S. crewed spaceflights. Her calculations proved essential for John Glenn as the first American in orbit, along with the rendezvous path for the Apollo Lunar Module and command module on flights to the moon. Her work also helped with the beginning of the Space Shuttle program and plans for a mission to Mars. She died earlier this year at the age of 101.
Katherine Goble Moore and Joylette Goble Hylick, daughters of Katherine Johnson, accepted the award.
Mary Jackson was a mathematician and aerospace engineer at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), which was succeeded by NASA. Like Vaughan, she spent most of her career at the Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. In 1958, she became NASA’s first African American female engineer. In the latter part of her career, Jackson worked to influence the hiring and promotion of women in NASA’s science, engineering, and mathematics careers. She died in 2005 at the age of 83.