A leader against economic injustice and two longtime advocates on the Council’s board have been chosen to receive the North Carolina Council of Churches’ highest honors.
Gene Nichol will receive the Faith Active in Public Life Award. Barbara Volk and Sydnor Thompson II will be recognized with Distinguished Service awards. All three will be presented at the Council’s 2013 Legislative Seminar which takes place April 11 at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in Raleigh.
Nichol is the Director of the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Law. He founded the Center for Civil Rights at UNC-CH in 2001 and was Dean of the Law School from 1999-2005. Nichol, who is Catholic, is also the Boyd Tinsley Distinguished Professor of Law. The most recipients of the Faith Active in Public Life Award include NC Representatives Jennifer Weiss and Rick Glazier, NC Senator Bill Purcell, the Rev. Dr. William Barber, and Representative Alma Adams.
Volk was a longtime member of the Council’s board, serving as a representative of Church Women United. She was board president from 2003-2005 during which time the Executive Board endorsed statements opposing the use of torture as an instrument of war as well as the Iraq War. Volk presided over the Council board’s deliberations and decision to oppose constitutional bans on same-sex marriage. She is a member of Raleigh’s Pullen Memorial Baptist Church.
Thompson is also a veteran of the Council’s board and a vocal advocate for interfaith outreach and cooperation. At his urging, the Council added language to the purpose within its Constitution, “To encourage fellowship and cooperation with other religions and faiths in North Carolina for building mutual respect and promoting the well-being of all people in North Carolina.” An attorney and former judge on the North Carolina Court of Appeals, he is a member of Myers Park United Methodist Church in Charlotte.
The most recent Distinguished Service Award winners include Father Joe Vetter, the Rev. Charles Smith, Cy and Carolyn King, the Rev. Vernon Tyson, Dr. David Forbes, and Jimmy Creech.
“The Council gives only two awards, so those who receive them represent the highest level of service to our organization and to the people of North Carolina that we could ever expect and hope for,” said George Reed, the NCCC’s Executive Director. “Gene, Barbara and Sydnor exemplify leadership for those who believe our faith calls us to serve the least of these, to work for peace and reconciliation, and to live in a community of respect and understanding with all our sisters and brothers. We are grateful for this opportunity to recognize them.”
–Aleta Payne, Development and Communication