McCall Humanitarian Award Presented At Commencement

Aug. 17, 2009

The Baylor Alumni Association presented the Abner V. McCall Humanitarian Award to three Waco women during summer commencement ceremonies on Aug. 15, at the Ferrell Center.

Receiving the award were Sherry Castello, Susan Cowley and Marsha Martie, the co-founders of Waco's CrossTies Ecumenical Church. The McCall Humanitarian Award is presented annually to recognize alumni who have exhibited a Christian response to those situations and persons around them in ways exemplified by the late Baylor president, Abner McCall.

The three women founded a faith community whose call was to be with the poor, and in 1988, CrossTies Ecumenical Church moved into the heart of the neighborhood that surrounds the Kate Ross government housing complex. Among the better-known ministries of the church are The Gospel Café and Talitha Koum Institute.

The Gospel Café, begun in 1996 at the corner of 10th and Cleveland, serves meals three days a week and also provides free nursing consultation, psychological counseling services, emergency financial aid, jobs and educational assistance. The Café also serves as worship center and home to CrossTies Servant Leadership School.

In 2003, the church opened Talitha Koum Institute in a vacant Boys Club in the neighborhood. The institute -- which is named from the Aramaic words that Jesus spoke to Jairus's daughter that translate "My child, get up!" -- includes a mental health therapeutic nursery, a comprehensive parenting program and a summer swimming program.

Castello '58, MA '60, previously taught journalism and English at Baylor before serving as editor, and later as senior editor, of the Baylor Line from 1968 until her retirement in 1995. She is volunteer coordinator and kitchen administrator for the Gospel Café. She is married to Don Castello '62, and they have four children, including Laurie Castello Tsuchiya '86, MA '90, and Charles Castello '93; seven grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

Cowley, a 1971 Baylor graduate, is married to John Cowley '71, JD '73, and they are co-owners of The Cowley Group, a Waco marketing firm. One of the founders of Talitha Koum's therapeutic nursery, she is also spiritual director for CrossTies. She has served on the board of the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce and was one of 10 Americans honored in 2003 with the national Louis Hine Award for Service to Children and Youth.

Martie, a 1979 Baylor graduate, serves as pastor, teacher and preacher. She received the YMCA Pathfinder Award in 1998, and in 2001, she was given the Eugene Jud Award for Community Service and the first annual PAVE (Projecting a Voice of Equality) Award from Baylor University.

For more information about this or any of the other awards presented by the Baylor Alumni Association, call (254) 710-1121 or go to

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