John Harry Gunkel

Date: 
2010-09-21

The 2010 Hal Brook Perry Award

John Harry Gunkel

Physician, pilgrim, faithful Christian. You are a missionary who takes the Great Commandment to heart as a call on your life.

You dedicated your life to the healing arts as a neonatal pediatrician, medical school teacher, and pharmaceutical researcher. After years of that ministry, you returned to San Antonio for what could rightfully be called an active retirement. 

An ad for the 1999 Harvey Lectures led you to friends of the seminary who directed you to the seminary's website which led you to call then Master of Arts in Pastoral Ministry director, Corinne Ware. You signed up for the program during that phone call. 

While a student, you made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Your life has not been the same since.

Like the Good Samaritan, you saw the suffering of the people and were moved to respond. For nearly two years, you patiently wrestled with discerning the exact nature of your response. Finally, after testing the shape of your call by serving in a variety of local ministries, your experience led you to seek training from the Episcopal Church Mission Personnel Office.  You then asked for and were assigned to the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem.

As you commented regarding your missionary experience for a story in the seminary's magazine, Ratherview, "It changes your world...You hear the Gospel differently. You hear the Word of God differently."

You have formed relationships, worked in medical clinics and helped out as needed in villages. You have "become friendly with what's alien." One of your former classmates writes, "Harry Gunkel represents the best the church has to offer in terms of committed lay people working for peace in one of the most war torn, oppressive societies in the world. Harry is a true soldier for Christ."

You have served and loved as the Good Samaritan, and we are pleased to present you with the 2010 Hal Perry Distinguished Alumni Award.