Thursday, June 7, 2012
Chelsea Loub, a Westminster College senior biology major, is one of 12 students nationwide who received a 2012 Samuel Robinson Award from the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
The award is open to Presbyterian students completing their junior or senior year at a Presbyterian-related college or university. It was created from a gift made to promote the memorization of the Westminster Shorter Catechism from The Book of Confessions.
In addition to memorizing and reciting the 123 questions and answers of the catechism, each applicant must submit a 2,000-word original essay on an assigned topic. For this year's award, applicants were asked to select a question-answer pair in the Westminster Catechism that speaks most directly to the PC (USA) today and explain why. Each essay was evaluated by a team of experienced readers who were asked to consider how the student incorporated the catechism and Scripture in the discussion of the topic.
Loub wrote on question 98 that asks what prayer is and is answered: "Prayer is an offering up of our desires unto God, for things agreeable to his will, in the name of Christ, with confession of our sins, and thankful acknowledgement of his mercies."
The paper examined the views of the Torah, which considers prayer as a process and a cleansing practice with specific instructions, and the New Testament, that regards prayer as a positive command focused on bonding with God.
Loub wrote: "Currently, prayer is based on individual preference with consideration of how the Torah and New Testament view it. Some people were taught to bow their heads, fold their hands and kneel when they pray. Others, like myself, open their hands, palms facing heaven, close their eyes and just focus on their words and just being in the presence of God. Some use Old English and sound very formal talking to God. Others drive and talk to God for hours as they go from one place to the next."
Chaplains at each Presbyterian-related college and university provide invaluable assistance both to the PC (USA) and the student by consulting on essay topics, serving as readers of the essays, and providing opportunities for students to perform the recitation.
Loub was mentored through the process by the Rev. Jim Mohr, Westminster chaplain. Mohr suggested dividing the catechism into sections, making the memorization less overwhelming. Mohr provided proof-reading and feedback to help Loub fine-tune the essay before submission.
"I would share with you how difficult it is just to complete the process," Mohr said. "Either memorizing the catechism or writing the essay would be a big project, but these students have to do both. Over the years, we've had a few students participate and Chelsea is only the third from Westminster to win it."
Loub is a daughter of Greg Loub and Annie Akers-Loub of Pittsburgh and a graduate of Plum High School.
Contact Mohr at (724) 946-7116 or email for additional information.