ST. LOUIS
Stated Clerk J. Herbert Nelson, II stands with Ecumenical and Interreligious Service Award winners Wes Pitts, Margee Kooistra and Farzama Q. Safiullah.

Stated Clerk J. Herbert Nelson, II stands with Ecumenical and Interreligious Service Award winners Wes Pitts, Margee Kooistra and Farzama Q. Safiullah. —Photo by: Danny Bolin

Representatives of diverse religious traditions gathered Tuesday evening at an ecumenical dinner hosted by Stated Clerk the Rev. J. Herbert Nelson, II, and moderated by Associate Stated Clerk the Rev. Robina Marie Winbush. The occasion provided a platform for the presentation of ecumenical and interfaith service recognition awards on behalf of the General Assembly Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations (GACEIR).

Presbyterian leaders and staff interacted with Assembly participants from more than two dozen churches, communions and councils on five continents, as well as representatives of the National Council of Synagogues and the Islamic Society of North America.

The stated clerk thanked Assembly guests for bearing with this year’s organizational emphasis on returning Presbyterian structures. “We are an old mechanism trying to make a big turn,” he said.

The ecumenical and interfaith service awards were presented by ruling elder Dianna Wright, chair of GACEIR.

The Rev. Wes Pitts of First Presbyterian Church in Statesville, N.C., accepted the award for a program encouraging positive, community-minded dialogue in Statesville, "Water into Wine: Seeking Transformation through Conversation."

Awards were also given for multicultural, multireligious responses to hate crimes and threats of violence in Harrisburg, Pa. People in the area have come together to implement strategies and projects aimed at preventing bias and building unity. Margee Kooistra received the award for Market Square Presbyterian Church, and Farzana Q. Safiullah accepted on behalf of the Community Responders Network.