In the era of participation trophies, one more award might seem just that. This is not your ordinary award, however, nor is the recipient your ordinary participant. The Distinguished Service Award is given once a year by the NC Council of Churches to an individual who does much more than participate. The recipient embodies service toward the high aim of God’s Shalom, a world where each one created in the Image of God flourishes. Such a world assumes individuals have the tools with which to flourish and are surrounded by communities that enable such flourishing. On the ground that looks like access to health care, food, and shelter; fair wages for fair work done in a safe environment; an environment free from toxins, pollutants, and violence; and acknowledgement of the great diversity of humanity – just for starters.
People who spend their lives working toward this kind of world seldom become rich or famous. Doing so would be antithetical to the core of their being. Instead these folks live purposefully and hopefully toward the world they know God has already provided. Recognition this year for the one among us who has lived this way goes to George Reed, retired Executive Director of the NC Council of Churches. We will present it to him on April 23 at our Critical Issues Seminar in Greensboro.
For those who don’t know George, it’s worth noting that he began working for the Council almost 20 year years ago after he resigned from a state-level position with his denomination rather than say no to a friend who asked George to perform a holy union service for him and his partner.
It took almost two decades for the highest court in our land to resolve the legalities of that issue, but in doing so, the justices validating the vision of George Reed who was courageous enough to live into God’s purpose for human flourishing while he waited on the rest of society to catch up. We remain grateful that George’s prophetic call led him to act courageously and to spend the remainder of his working years with the NC Council of Churches. Thanks be to God.