Dr. Vinson Sutlive '53 - 2003 A Award Recipient

After graduating from Asbury College, Dr. Sutlive he attended Vanderbilt School of Religion and received a Bachelor of Divinity (Honors). After Vanderbilt, he and his wife Joanne ’52 studied for a year in the Kennedy School of Missions, Hartford Seminary.

In 1957, with their two children, they sailed to Sarawak where Dr. Sutlive was appointed by the resident biship to establish the Iban department of the Methodist Theological School. Following nine months language study, he opened the new department in January 1959 with the matriculation of 11 students. In 1960, he was appointed Vice-Principal of the School, and in 1962, he was elected Principal of the Seminary, a position he held until 1972.    

The Ibans were part of a “people movement,” and designated “A Land of Witness and Decision” by the Board of Missions of the Methodist Church for 1956-60.  Hundreds of people were accepting Christ and new churches were established in scores of longhouses. Working with the Theological School students and missionaries from India, Indonesia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, Dr. Sutlive participated in evangelism and church development. The number of churches in the Sibu District, to which he was appointed, grew from 18 in 1957 to more than 150 by 1972. In 1959, he was appointed District Superintendent and had administrative responsibility for 54 congregations. During the first tour, he developed interests in the Iban language and culture, and began work that was led to the editing and publication of A Handy Reference Dictionary of Iban and English in 1994. He also was invited to speak to the conference Methodist Youth Fellowship on religious syncretism, examining the interface between the Christian faith and traditional religion.  These lectures were published as Pebanding Pengarap Kitai (“A Comparison of our Faith”) by The Methodist Literature Office.      

In 1961, the Sutlives returned on furlough to Nashville, where Vinson took courses for an M.A. in Foreign Studies at Scarritt College for Christian Workers.  Encouraged by Dr. Ina Corinne Brown, he pursued graduate work in anthropology, entering the new program at the University of Pittsburgh in 1966 and completinghis doctorate in 1972.

 In 1962, the Sutlives returned for a second tour in Sarawak. Dr. Sutlives served as secretary for the Inter-Church Committee for Bible Translation, and developed four correspondences which later were published by the Methodist Christian Education Office as books. He translated seven books of the Hebrew Bible, and coordintated the work of the committee, which made possible a complete translation of the Bible in 1988 under the direction of a colleague.


Other 2003 A Award Recipients:

Mr. Kenneth Abraham '75
Mr. Roger Kusche '43