VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 4/8/15)—The ABCUSA Committee on Christian Unity and Interfaith Relations received nominations for the Luke Mowbray Ecumenical Award to be presented at the Biennial Mission Summit in June 2015. The award is given to an individual for “sustained performance or special achievement” in “the cause of ecumenism.” In 2015 for the first time, two awardees have been named—Rev. Dr. A. Roy Medley and Rev. Dr. Molly T. Marshall. Both Medley and Marshall have contributed greatly to ecumenical and interfaith work locally, nationally, and internationally.
Rev. Dr. A. Roy Medley has served as General Secretary of the American Baptist Churches USA since 2002. During this tenure, and in prior ministries, Roy has worked tirelessly to widen the Christian circle to include all brothers and sisters, and he has reached across faith group lines to find common ground.
Medley currently also serves as Chair of the National Council of Churches Governing Board which brings together many Christian communions. He wrote, “In Christ we are shown a more excellent way—living for others. Living for others opens one to receive true community, true belonging as a gift through Christ whose invitation to his banquet table is the basis for our belonging to one another.” He helped to lead NCC board meetings in places where the healing touch of Christ is needed, connecting with local churches, such as Ferguson, Missouri.
Medley has led American Baptist leaders on international ecumenical and interfaith travel experiences involving such countries as Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, Republic of Georgia and Myanmar (Burma), among others. He communicates with national and world leaders on behalf of justice and peace, equity for minorities and persons marginalized in societies, and religious liberty and an end to oppression of religious groups. With leaders of other Christian denominations and other faith communities, he has advocated for victims and has visited many troubled areas of our world.
Two national, three regional, and many local Baptist-Muslim dialogues have been held under his leadership, building relationships of mutual respect and understanding. “Peacemaking is an essential element of our Christian vocation and the biblical motivation for our many efforts to work for peace with our Muslim neighbors,” said Medley of these Dialogues. A third national Dialogue is in the planning stages.
Rev. Dr. Molly T. Marshall currently serves as President of Central Baptist Theological Seminary in Shawnee, Kansas. Her presidency has been marked by outreach ecumenically within the Christian family and also with other faith traditions.
Marshall teaches a course bi-annually on Benedictine Spirituality at Conception Abbey in Missouri where various participants gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for Catholicism, experience different forms of worship, and engage in dialogue over issues common to the church at large today.
Under her leadership, Central Seminary hosted one of ABC’s three regional Baptist-Muslim dialogues in April, 2013. Just prior to this scheduled event the bombings occurred at the Boston marathon. She said, “In light of recent events in Boston, it is even more urgent that we grow in understanding and respect of one another’s traditions. Too often we demonize a whole way of faith because of the actions of a few. Our gathering today seeks to find common ground…”
Marshall was a featured speaker at the Islamic Center in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. The conference examined sacred texts and promoted understanding and tolerance among adherents of different religious traditions.
Marshall was a Fellow of the Christian Leadership Initiative, 2012-13, and with 17 others engaged in Jewish-Christian dialogue and study at Shalom Hartman Institute in Israel. Reflecting on this experience she wrote, “It is said that if a person only knows one religion, he or she really knows none. As I have viewed Christianity through Jewish perspective, I have discovered new aspects of my confessional faith and reading of texts.”
The Luke Mowbray Ecumenical Award was established in 1974 by his widow, Edna. They lived on a farmer in Kansas. There have been 20 previous recipients of this award at Biennial Conventions beginning in 1975. Medley and Marshall are the 21st and 22nd recipients. The awards will be presented on Friday, June 26, at the Christian Unity and Interfaith Relations Committee Dinner during the Biennial Mission Summit.
American Baptist Churches USA is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with more than 5,200 local congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.