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Ecumenical award goes to Church World Service leader

May 23, 2012

TAMPA, Fla.

The Rev. John L. McCullough, executive director and chief executive officer of humanitarian agency Church World Service (CWS), was honored May 1 by his denomination, the United Methodist Church, for outstanding global ecumenical leadership.

McCullough received the quadrennial Council of Bishops Ecumenical Award for 2012 during the international United Methodist General Conference, April 24-May 4 here.

He is “an amazing advocate for ecumenism,” under whose leadership CWS has gained a reputation as an innovator for its programs worldwide, said Bishop Mary Ann Swenson, president of the church’s General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns.

Swenson cited McCullough’s lead in CWS’s multi-year Africa Initiative, which in 2006 sponsored an Africa Summit that brought 53 church leaders from Africa to meet with U.S. policymakers in Washington, D.C.

She also said McCullough had led his agency to support humanitarian causes at the sites of major humanitarian crises, including a delegation to Guinea to assist the Christian Council of Guinea in the face of that country’s civil upheaval; leading a delegation of historic American black church leaders to Israel and Palestine; and assistance in helping regional faith leaders negotiate peace to end civil war in Liberia.

McCullough served pastorates in the U. S. and Kenya and held leadership positions at the denomination’s global mission agency before joining CWS in 2000.

McCullough praised the work of the United Methodist Church General Conference and the UMC people for their ecumenical commitment and spirit. He acknowledged the challenges of reaching consensus “just as United Methodists,” but encouraged them to “imagine trying to reach consensus with 36 additional communions,” the Reformed, Anglican, Orthodox, Peace and historic black churches who support CWS. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is one of those members.

He underscored the power of faith-based groups working ecumenically as an important means of “satisfying the pangs of people who are hungry, of children undernourished, and communities that are food insecure.”

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