The National Middle Eastern Presbyterian Caucus (NMEPC) has elected its new officers and executive committee for the Aug. 2011-Aug. 2013 biennium.

The following officers were elected: Dr. Nahida Gordon, moderator; Elder Joe Faragalla, vice-moderator; Elder Lucy Janjigan, treasurer; the Rev. George Bitar, secretary; the Rev. Adel Abraham, chair of Christian dducation and youth; Mrs. Irene Roufaeal, chair of peacemaking; Mrs. Marta Soliman, chair of Presbyterian Women; Mr. Zohny Hannah, chair, fund development; and the Rev. Raafat Hanna, chair of communications.

NMEPC’s mission statement reads: “As 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 support the mission, witness, and stewardship of the Presbyterian Church (USA); and to be a voice of justice, peace, and reconciliation in the USA and in the Middle East.”

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The Rev. Robert Bluford, Jr., 92, has been named Virginian of the Year by the Virginia Press Association. “I’d really rather the focus not be on me,” he said, “but if this increases awareness of various causes I’ve supported, it’s all right.”

In years past, Bluford’s passions have include a free clinic he helped found in 1968 and Civil War site preservations. More recently he’s championed better treatment of Virginia’s Native Americans and a Civil War memorial.

“We need to make amends for the rather shabby treatment we’ve given our Native Americans in Virginia,” he said. His Civil War memorial dream is to plant a tree for every American killed during the war along a 100-plus mile stretch of U.S. Highway 15.

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Ruth Schmidt and the Rev. Buddy Hughes will be posthumously honored as recipients of the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta’s 2010 Peacemaker of the Year Award at the presbytery’s Sept. 22 meeting.

Born in Mountain Lake, MN and educated at Augsburg College, the University of Missouri, and the University of Illinois, Schmidt served as a high school teacher, college professor, dean of humanities of the State University of NY at Albany, provost and professor at Wheaton College, and from 1982 to 1994, the first female president of Agnes Scott College in Decatur, GA.  After her retirement, Ruth traveled extensively, often working in developing countries, and devoted herself to advocating peace and nonviolence. Every Friday at noon for seven years, beginning with the advent of the Iraq war, Schmidt stood at the corner of Peachtree and 14th Streets in Atlanta, holding a sign that read, “Keep Working for PEACE.”  She died May 24, 2010.

Hughes, a native of Roanoke, Va., served as a PC(USA) missionary in Latin America and during his tenure as Area Secretary for Latin America in the former Presbyterian Church in the United States, new ecumenical missions were established in Peru, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua and Ecuador. Educated at Hampden Sydney College and Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, he served as a parish minister, a missionary to Latin America, a General Assembly staff member and a campus minister. Hughes and his wife, Anne,  retired to Decatur in 1994. He died in April 2010.

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William H. Millsaps, moderator of the Permanent Judicial Commission of the Presbytery of the James and former sports editor at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, has received American sports writings top award, the Red Smith Award. The award is given annually by the Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) for “major contributions to sports journalism.

Millsaps received the award earlier this summer at APSE’s annual convention in boston. He retired in 2005 after serving as managing editor and executive editor of the Times-Dispatch.

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The Rev. Dora Arce Valentin, a leader in the Presbyterian Reformed Church of Cuba, has been elected executive secretary for justice and partnership for the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC).

The WCRC, which includes the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), was created last summer by the merger of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches and the Reformed Ecumenical Council. It is based in Geneva, Switzerland.

Arce, who is currently pastor of Luyano Presbyterian Church in Havana, was the first woman to serve as moderator of the Presbyterian Reformed Church of Cuba. She is also a professor at the Matanzas Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cuba.

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Kathryn Mary Lohre has been named director of ecumenical and inter-religious relations for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, effective Oct. 2011.

Lohre is currently assistant director of the Pluralism Project at Harvard University, a research project on the changing religious landscape in the U.S. She has been on the staff since 2000. She is also president-elect of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. (NCC). She will be installed as NCC president in November.

Lohre is currently serving on behalf of the ELCA as a member of the Central Committee of the Geneva-based World Council of Churches and is a member of the Bishop's Communal Discernment Task Force. She previously served on the Bishop's Global, Ecumenical and Interfaith Relationships Roundtable, the Commission for Women Steering Committee and as an assistant to the ELCA Youth Gathering (2000). She is a graduate of St. Olaf College, Northfield, Minn., and earned the Master of Divinity degree at Harvard Divinity School.

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The Rev. Robert Chalmers, who served the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) with distinction as a minister for more than 60 years, died Aug. 26 at the age of 95. 

Born in Madison, Minn., Chalmers graduated from Dubuque Theological Seminary in 1950 and was ordained as a Presbyterian minister that same year.  He served congregations in Minnesota and Iowa for 45 years and was among a number of young pastors who helped to start Presbyterian Homes.

Robert  is survived by three children, eight grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren.He was preceded in death by his wife, Shirley. A memorial service was held Sept. 2 at Christ Presbyterian Church in Edina, Minn.