The Cresset, Valparaiso University’s journal of literature, the arts, and public affairs, received nine “Best of the Church Press” Awards at an April 11 ceremony in Chicago, including three first-place awards of excellence.

Presented by the Associated Church Press at the organization’s annual convention, the awards honor the top work of religiously affiliated North American newspapers, magazines, journals, news services, and online publications.

The Cresset swept the Theological or Scholarly Article category, which was open to all media. Caroline J. Simon received an honorable mention for her essay, “‘Can Two Walk Together Unless They Be Agreed?’ Traditions, Vocations, and Christian Universities in the Twenty-First Century” (Michaelmas 2018). David Heddendorf won the award of merit for his essay, “Joyce Carol Oates and the Springs of Belief” (Trinity 2018). Stephanie Paulsell won the award of excellence for her essay, “The Unknowable More: Contemplation, Creativity, and Education” (Easter 2018). Paulsell’s essay also won the award of excellence in the Professional Resource category.

Two current Valpo faculty members received awards: Ashleigh Elser, Lilly Postdoctoral Fellow and lecturer in humanities, won the award of merit in the category of Biblical Interpretation for her column, “Deuteronomy 22: A Tale of Two Cities” (Advent-Christmas 2018). John Ruff, professor of English, received the award of merit in the Critical Review category for “Two Old Friends Hanging Together Again: The Rediscovery of Takuichi Fujii’s Art” (Trinity 2018), which reviewed a recent exhibit at Valparaiso University’s Brauer Museum of Art.

Debra Dean Murphy won the Critical Review award of excellence for her essay, “Our Sentimental Poet? Mary Oliver in an Age of Excess” (Lent 2018). In the Poetry category, Tania Runyan won the award of merit for “Let Go and Let God” (Easter 2018). All of the Cresset’s individual winners won in categories that were open to all media; the Cresset also received an honorable mention in the “Best in Class” category for journals. The 2018 publication staff included editor Heather Grennan Gary, poetry editor Marci Rae Johnson, art editor Gregg Hertzlieb, copy editor Ian Roseen ’13, assistant editors Grace Biermann ’21 and Claire Van Wagoner ’21, and office manager Gabbi Wilcox ’19.

“It’s very gratifying to get such positive feedback on our work,” said Gary. “These awards underscore the fact that the Cresset fills an important and distinctive niche in the landscape of North American religious publications.”

Now in its 82nd year, the Cresset was originally published by the Walther League, the youth ministry organization of the Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod. Valparaiso University assumed publication of the journal in 1951. Visit for more information.