Since 1985 the Rev. Michael “Mike” Aiken (’71) has been executive director of Greensboro Urban Ministry, a nondenominational agency providing crisis intervention and outreach services. As one nominator wrote, “He is out to put himself out of a job as he works to end homelessness and poverty in Greensboro and Guilford County.”
In accepting his award, Aiken praised the requirement that he study religion when he was a student: “It was at Wake Forest that I came to truly understand my calling in life to bring good news to the poor, liberty to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind. Our Lord is a champion of the underdog … I guess an extension of my passion for justice and my love of the Lord is my passion for Wake Forest … I pray for the day soon when the hungry will be fed and the homeless housed so that we can indeed roll the Quad in celebration of the victory in the spirit of Pro Humanitate.”
Aiken, who majored in biology, holds a Master of Divinity degree from Duke and interned in the School of Pastoral Care at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. In 2000, with the support of a grant from the Tannenbaum-Sternberger Foundation, the divinity school established a partnership with Greensboro Urban Ministry creating pastoral care internships in the diverse setting. Wrote Jeanne Tannenbaum, board chair of the foundation, “Mike exemplifies the best in our community and the best as a Wake Forest graduate.”
In addition to his community activism, Aiken leads at church, in his Rotary Club and in volunteer capacities including Wake Forest’s Ministerial Alumni Council. “Mike lives Pro Humanitate every day through his work with individuals and families who require food, clothing, shelter and emergency assistance,” said one nominator.