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The Paula Kent Award for Social Justice

Paula Kent retired in 2018 and was Calumet’s longest serving staff member. Her parents were among the decision-makers back in 1959 when the Lutheran church bought Calumet for use as the church camp for the New England Synod. She and her siblings served on the staff in Camp Calumet Lutheran's earliest days. Others in her family to serve: her spouse, her son, her nieces & nephews, and now her grand-nieces and grand nephews are campers and counselors, too.

During her year-round staff tenure, Paula was a longtime advocate for justice, diversity, and sustainability. This was the inspiration behind Calumet’s decision to create "The Paula Kent Award for Social Justice." The intent: to honor Paula's long-time service to Calumet by recognizing the service of another. Each year, the award recipient will receive a one-time gift from an endowment fund created for this purpose. It can be used however the recipent chooses to use it.

It is a wonderful thing that Calumet Nation can come together now and again to celebrate a person from among Calumet Nation who has impactfully made special efforts in the area(s) of justice, diversity, and/or sustainability. Who is eligible for nomination? Anyone who has some kind of connection/relationship with the ELCA and/or its ministries. Calumet is just one of thousands of ministries to be found across the country.

Nominees are lifted up by the Calumet community using a nomination form which goes to a task force. The task force has the responsibility of stewarding this whole effort. It meets, and discerns, and then makes a recommendation to Calumet's Board of Directors. The recipient receives the award at an appropriate time when Calumet Nation can celebrate together.

To learn more about the nomination process, contact Knute.

Boom Chicka Boom!


2023's awardee of the Paula Kent Award for Social Justice was Pastor Nelson Rabell-González of Lodi, California.

A Zoom Celebration took place on December 27, 2023 at 7 PM and included Pastor Jon Hopkins of Concordia Lutheran in Concord, NH and Pastor Marjo Anderson of Salem Lutheran in Bridgeport, CT who offered remarks.

Upon learning that he was awarded the 2023 honor, Pastor Nelson described a sense of humility --  and deep thanks for being recognized. During the event, he reminded the attendees that "the work for justice continues."


The awardee for the 2022 Paula Kent Award for Social Justice was Calumet alum Pastor Steph Smith.

A Zoom Celebration took place on November 1st at 7 PM and included special guest Pastor Jon Niketh of First Lutheran, Lynn, MA who offered remarks.

Upon learning that Steph was the 2022 awardee, a delighted Paula Kent shared: "I very much admire Pastor Steph and her ministry." At the November Zoom event, Calumet Nation was reminded of the ELCA's long-time commitment to Social Justice.


The 2021 Paula Kent Award for Social Justice was granted to Calumet alum Chris Wu during a Zoom event.

Chris was a Peace Corps volunteer and was a highly respested summer staffer during his time on staff. It was a joy that Chris could be with us for the online event. Among the many who attended were his proud parents!

Special guests at the event were Paula Kent, alum Michelle Weagle who shared aspects about her life of service as a public school teacher, and alum Pr Jessica Lambert who offered a reflection about the ELCA's long-time commitment to Social Justice.

Nominations for the 2024 Award

Is there someone you would like to nominate for the 2024 Paula Kent Award for Social Justice? It's easy to do it. Nominations will be accepted by the task force beginning in the spring of 2024 and the award will be granted later in the year. The task force members are: Ginger Brownell, Ron Cashman, Don Johnson, Sammy Kalisa, Knute Ogren, Sharon Plante, and Jennifer Pressey. To nominate someone for this wonderful award that celebrates goodness in the area of Social Justice, look for an announcement that nominations are open beginning in the Spring of 2024.