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Notes about people

July 1, 2009

The Rev. Fahed Abu-Akel, moderator of the 214th General Assembly (2002) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), was elected moderator of the National Middle Eastern Presbyterian Caucus (NMEPC) June 11 during the Big Tent event in Atlanta. He will serve a two-year term.

The NMEPC was recognized as the PC(USA)’s fifth racial ethnic caucus during the 208th General Assembly in 1996. The caucus acts as the official representative body and voice of Middle Eastern Presbyterians. The caucus’s mission statement is: “As Christian Middle Eastern Americans who trace their faith origin to the apostolic age, we have a particular responsibility to be faithful disciples of Jesus Christ; to actively support the mission, witness, and stewardship of the PC(USA); and, to be a voice of justice, peace, and reconciliation in the USA and the Middle East.”

The PC(USA) has been engaged in mission work in the Middle East for 180 years. The caucus’ work is currently staffed in Louisville by Amgad Beblawi, associate for Middle Eastern congregational support in the Racial Ethnic and Women’s Ministries ministry area of the General Assembly Mission Council.

Other officers elected by the NMEPC are vice-moderator : the Rev. Fakhri Yacoub; secretary: the Rev. Raafat L. Zaki; treasurer: Joseph Faragalla; peacemaking chair: the Rev. Fuad Khouri; funds development chair: Zohny Hanna; communication chair: Tamara Abhari; women’s chair: Lucy Janjigian; Christian education & youth chair: Noha Khoury.

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The Rev. Linda Ellen Regan, an honorably retired minister who served as moderator, vice-moderator and chair of the council for San Francisco Presbytery, died June 13 after a lengthy illness. She was 68.

A “second career” minister, Regan served as a home teacher for emotionally disturbed high school students after receiving her teaching certificate from San Francisco State University. She graduated from San Francisco Theological Seminary in 1983 and served pastorates in Sacramento and San Francisco presbyteries until her retirement in 2002. She was named Pastor Emerita of Clayton Valley (CA) Presbyterian Church in 2005. Some of her most valuable service was as chair of the Cameron House Healing Task Force, created in the wake of a child sex abuse scandal that was uncovered decades after it occurred.

A memorial service for the Rev. Linda Regan will be held at the Clayton Valley Presbyterian Church on July 18.

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Galen Carey, an expert on refugee resettlement and international relief operations, has been named director of government affairs for the National Association of Evangelicals.

Carey, 53, succeeds the Rev. Richard Cizik as the NAE’s top lobbyist in Washington. Cizik resigned under pressure last winter after angering some evangelicals with his outspoken work on the environment and by seeming to signal support for same-sex civil unions in a National Public Radio interview.
   
Carey has served for 25 years with Baltimore-based World Relief, the NAE’s humanitarian relief agency. He lived in six countries, addressing floods in Mozambique, working to prevent HIV/AIDS in Burundi and overseeing relief efforts after the 2004 tsunami hit Indonesia.
   
The NAE’s Washington agenda, laid out in a document called “For the Health of the Nation,” prioritizes religious freedom, peacemaking and human rights, as well as caring for the poor, protecting the environment and opposing same-sex marriage.

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The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) and the United Church of Christ (UCC) both made history recently by selecting minority presidents at their annual meetings.
   
The Boston-based UUA elected its first Latino president, the Rev. Peter Morales. The Cleveland-based UCC nominated its first African-American president, the Rev. Geoffrey Black, as its next general minister and president.
       
Both leaders will be the second minorities to helm their faith traditions. The Rev. William Sinkford, an African-American, preceded Morales in the UUA’s top post. Black is the second African-American leader of the UCC. The first, Joseph H. Evans, served only a partial term after the death of an acting president.
       
Both liberal denominations have overwhelmingly white constituencies. The UCC estimates that 9 percent of its membership is made up of minority racial and ethnic groups. The UUA said roughly 7.2 percent of its membership identifies as people of color.
   
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U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has appointed Fara Pandith as special representative to Muslim communities. Pandith has worked in the state department’s European Bureau.
   
President Barack Obama has made outreach to Muslims a priority, highlighted by his speech in Cairo in early June in which he quoted from the Quran and emphasized the importance of religious freedom.

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