LOUISVILLE (PNS) The Ecumenical and Interreligious Service Recognitions of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) are a public acknowledgement of the significant service to the causes of Christian unity and interreligious relations rendered by presbyteries, congregations, and individuals as affirmed by ecumenical and interreligious stances of the denomination.
The awards are made every other year and Recognitions are presented during the Stated Clerk’s Dinner at the General Assembly, to be held this year June 21 in Portland, Oregon. The Recognitions are made every General Assembly, however, after a hiatus of several years the 221st General Assembly (2014) in Detroit marked the reinstitution of the Recognitions.
In making these recognitions, the General Assembly:
- Bears testimony to its belief that the Church of Jesus Christ is one, holy, catholic, and apostolic; that the Lord of the Church wills that it be visibly one in the world; that Christians ought to be in relationship with people of other religions; and that it is the duty of believers to be obedient to that Divine will.
- Affirms its commitment to presbyteries and congregations as the most appropriate means whereby the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) may demonstrate its obedience to the divine will that the Church be visibly one in each place and in all places and that faithful Christians relate fruitfully to entities of other religions.
- Gives help and encouragement to those within the Church who are looking for practical examples of ways the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) can move beyond affirmation to action in manifesting the unity that we both have and seek in Jesus Christ.
- Advocates positive relationships with people of other religious traditions. We have seen these relationships as a specific instance of Christ’s universal command to “…love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” and to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37, 39).
Nominations are made to the General Assembly Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations (GACEIR.) The committee reviews the nominations and selects those who will be recognized.
This year’s Ecumenical and Interreligious Service Recognitions are awarded to:
The Rev. Carolyn Winfrey Gillette of Wilmington, Delaware
Recognized for her ecumenical commitment to writing hymns used by many congregations, especially at times when the church can best express unity. Her hymns have been incorporated into hymnals and worship guides from the World Council of Churches, the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA, Churches Uniting in Christ, Unity for Presbyterian Church, and many others.
The Rev. Burns Standfield of South Boston, Massachusetts
Recognized for his work with the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization (GBIO), a broad-based organization of churches, synagogues, mosques and community organizations that work across religious, racial, ethnic, class and neighborhood lines for the public good. Stanfield as served as GBIO’s president since 2012
NorthPark Presbyterian Church in Dallas, Texas
Recognized for hosting interfaith luncheon and dialog with Masjid-al-Islam mosque in south Dallas and, at the invitation of the Islamic Association of North Texas, entering into dialog with Muslim youth at an ice cream social attended by youth and Girl Scouts from the congregation
Presbytery of Chicago (Illinois)
Recognized for formation of the Interfaith Solidarity Network; continued dialog with Jewish congregations and partners; and a formal covenant of dialog, mutual education and practice, and collaboration on social justice causes with the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago.
by Gregg Brekke