2012 Honor Roll of Donors
Rev. JACKIE LEONARD:
SFTS alum supports seminary
through endowed chair
By Kay Carney
ackie Leonard, a PC(USA) min-
ister, SFTS alumna (M.Div. ’88)
and seven-year member of the
SFTS board of trustees, remembers
her call to ministry and the major
event that led to her decision to at-
A graduate of the University of
Nevada, she moved to San Francisco
for graduate school in theater and re-
turned to Reno in 1977. Three months
later Leonard’s life would be forever
changed after her brother was killed
by a drunk driver. “Dealing with my
brother’s death caused me to reevalu-
ate my own life.”
“St John’s pastor, Rev. Bill Barrett
(BD ’55), preached on Romans 8:38-
39 the first Sunday after my brother’s
death. When Bill preached on that
pericope, the world shifted for me.
I still had a lot of grief work to do
but I realized that my world had not
Leonard became very
involved in the life of St.
John’s Church and began to
look at new career choices.
Through a process of dis-
cernment, she realized that
she had a call to ministry.
“When I told Bill this, he
said ‘No. You don’t go to
seminary and go into ministry until
it is the last thing on your career list.’
And I told him that it was. Then I be-
gan my journey to seminary,” stated
“A friend and I made a trip
through a blizzard to attend a Fron-
tiers in Ministry conference at SFTS.
After this trip through snow and rain,
we arrived on campus. The grass was
green, the sky was blue, and the tulip
trees were blooming. I knew I had
come home,” said Leonard. She en-
rolled at SFTS in 1984.
Leonard first got to know the
Rices at SFTS where Howard was
professor of ministry and chaplain.
Rice became a mentor and friend and
preached at her ordination in Octo-
ber 1988. “Howard preached on the
Samaritan Woman at the Well, and
I have no memory of what he said.
What I DO remember is the laying
on of hands, and his hands on my
head and the other ministers and el-
ders laying their hands on my shoul-
ders,” added Leonard. Howard Rice
passed away in 2010.
Leonard credits the Rices for hav-
ing a lasting impact on her ministry.
In 2002, the Rices were in Reno fol-
lowing a Companions on the Inner
Way spiritual retreat at
Lake Tahoe. “I was hav-
ing a bizarre experience
with various physical
problems. I think How-
ard and I both knew
that it was MS., and I
was diagnosed on Sep-
tember 12, 2002, several
days after the Rices had
returned home. Nancy was a wonder-
ful support to my mother and now,
Howard and I had one more thing in
In honor of the Rice family,
Leonard has endowed the Rice Fam-
ily Chair of Christian Spirituality at
SFTS. Doing so will keep their lega-
cies alive for generations to come. “I
am more than halfway toward my
pledge of $2 million,” she added.
“My time at SFTS was one of the
best times of my life. It challenged
me intellectually and spiritually. The
preaching was the best I’ve ever heard.
I began a love affair with JS Bach; I
made lifelong friends.” Leonard add-
ed, “I hope that all students of SFTS
will experience seminary life as rich
and life-changing as mine was. To
this end, I have served on the Board
of Trustees and continue to make a
financial investment in the seminary.
It is my prayer that we will graduate
students with a passion for the proc-
lamation of the Gospel and the will-
ingness to give back to the institution
that has formed them.”
Kay Carney is vice president of communications.
SFTS CHIMES | Fall 2012