Laurel Bunker Receives Minnesota African-American Heritage Award
by Bethel News
Bethel University Dean of Campus Ministries and Campus Pastor Laurel Bunker has been named a Minnesota African-American Heritage Calendar honoree. She is one of 12 Minnesotans to receive this recognition for the year 2009, themed “The Year of Inspiration” by the sponsoring organization.
We “would like to commend you for your outstanding achievements, as well as your commitments to causes that are beneficial to Minnesotans,” wrote Kim White, chairperson of the Minnesota African-American Heritage Calendar Award Committee, in Bunker’s award letter. “We applaud you for overcoming barriers to excel beyond all expectations. We also applaud you for being an authentic role model for young people.”
Bunker joins well-known recipients including Rev. Dr. Earl F. Miller, former Minneapolis Mayor Sharon Belton, and musician Gary Hines. “It’s humbling for me to be named with some of these people,” says Bunker. “Many of them have been mentors to me. They remind me of the best of African Americans: strong, deeply spiritual. Everything I was taught by my parents is lived out by these people.”
Rev. Miller is the clergy member who ordained Bunker in the American Baptist Conference. “The formative years of my spiritual life were under him. He believed in my call when no one else would,” she says. “He believed in me when others would not. He gave me credibility and was the one who insisted I go to [seminary].”
“To be affirmed by my community felt really good,” concludes Bunker. “I wanted to make the Lord and others who knew me proud of me.”
A St. Paul native, Bunker received her undergraduate degree from Hamline University and an M.A. in Cross-cultural Ministries from Luther Seminary. For years she has been in ministry with youth, holding positions at Macalaster, the YMCA, and Young Life. Bunker joined Bethel University’s staff in August 2008.