Three tapped for Presbyterian Welcome awards

NEW YORK – Presbyterian Welcome, a Manhattan-based ministry that works to promote tolerance, will present its 2011 Faithful Servant Awards to three people who have worked to dismantle barriers based on sexual identity within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

The honorees at the Nov. 10 award ceremony will be the Rev. Tricia Dykers-Koenig of The Covenant Network of Presbyterians, Patrick Evans of Yale University’s Institute of Sacred Music and the Rev. Anna Taylor Sweringen of the Presbytery of New York City.

In a press release on the awards, the Rev. Mieke Vandersall, minister director of Presbyterian Welcome, called 2011 “a watershed year because of the passage of Amendment 10-A,” which changed language on ordination in the Book of Order, the denomination’s constitution.

Approved by the 219th General Assembly of the PC(USA) in 2010 and ratified by a majority of the denomination’s presbyteries earlier this year, Amendment 10-A makes it possible for people living in same-gender relationships to be considered for ordination.

The amendment “puts equality on the books,” Vandersall said, adding that “it is now in the hands of the church’s leadership to make it a reality.”

Dykers-Koenig is national organizer for the Covenant Network of Presbyterians. She was a key advocate for passage of Amendment 10-A and has worked for more than a decade for equality within the denomination for Presbyterians of all sexual orientations. The Rev. Dr. David Colby, board member of The Covenant Network, credits her with keeping “a laser focus on what was needed to change the ordination standards in the PC (USA).”

Evans is an associate professor in the practice of sacred music at Yale and minister of music at Broadway Presbyterian Church. He has served the LGBTQ movement in the Presbyterian Church through song, musical liturgy, composition and education. Michael J. Adee, executive director of More Light Presbyterians, said Evans “adopted his home state of Alabama for outreach and 10-A won in that state in no small part because of Patrick.”

Sweringen, a native New Yorker and graduate of Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York, provided public witness that contributed to the recent passage of the New York State Marriage Bill. Kate McDonough, lead organizer of the Empire State Pride Agenda, has called Sweringen “the heart and soul of our work for marriage equality in Queens.”

The Faithful Servant Award recognizes leadership for the inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons in the PC(USA) and throughout the world.

Presbyterian Welcome, a 14-year old ministry with offices in Manhattan, represents 20 supporting congregations in the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut area in efforts to support, educate and equip persons to combat homophobia, exclusion, and bullying in their churches, communities and schools. It also supports lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender person across the country who are pursuing ordained ministry in the PC (USA).

The Nov. 10 Faithful Servant Award ceremony will be held at 7 p.m. at Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, 7 West 55th St. in Manhattan. Tickets begin at $50 and can be purchased online.