Saddleback Church pastor Rick Warren and his wife, Kay, are set to receive honorary degrees at Biola University's Spring 2014 Commencement. The late Prison Fellowship Ministries founder, Charles W. "Chuck" Colson, will also be honored with a reward that celebrates him as a "heroic Christian leader."
"Kay Warren embodies a life of faith and courage, demonstrating what it means to fully embrace God's greater narrative," said Biola President Barry H. Corey. "Her work for the global church and those suffering from HIV and AIDS across the world is a model of the kind of conviction and courage that Biola seeks to develop in all of our graduates."
Warren is set to deliver the Christian university's Spring 2014 Commencement address on May 23. Both she and her husband, Rick, who is the best-selling author of The Purpose Driven Life, will receive honorary doctorates.
Biola, which has over 6,300 students at its Los Angeles-area campus and around the world, says that 230 students will attend the graduate ceremony in the morning and another 735 will attend the undergraduate ceremony in the evening.
In addition to their work combating HIV and AIDS in places like Africa, the Warrens most recently hosted a mental health conference to tackle the stigma of the condition in the church.
Following the suicide of their son, Matthew, in April 2013, they hosted the Gathering on Mental Health and the Church in March, which was designed to encourage individuals living with mental illness, educate family members, and equip church leaders to provide effective and compassionate care to any who face the challenges of mental illness.
Christopher Colson will meanwhile accept the inaugural Charles W. Colson Conviction and Courage Award on behalf of his late father.
"My father was extremely uncomfortable accepting accolades," Colson said. "And if he were standing here today, he would immediately give all the honor to Jesus Christ, and to the thousands of men and women whom he inspired to bring the gospel to the least, the last and the lost. In that spirit, I and the Colson family gladly accept this inaugural award on his behalf."
Colson, who died in April 2012 at the age of 80, was a born-again Christian who previously spent time in prison over his involvement in the Watergate scandal in 1973. Following his conversion, he set up the non-profit Prison Fellowship, which minsters and provides support to people in jail in the U.S. and around the world.
In 2008, Colson received the Presidential Citizens Medal, the second highest honor to a private citizen, given to him by former president George W. Bush.
"Through his (Colson's) strong faith and leadership, he has helped courageous men and women from around the world make successful transitions back into society," the White House stated in the recipient citations at the time. "The United States honors Chuck Colson for his good heart and his compassionate efforts to renew a spirit of purpose in the lives of countless individuals."
Biola will offer a live video stream of both ceremonies on its website.