VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 5/18/17)—Rev. Dr. June Totten, chair of the American Baptist Committee on Christian Unity and Interfaith Relations, is the 2017 recipient of the Luke Mowbray Ecumenical Award. The award will be presented at the Committee on Christian Unity and Interfaith Relations Dinner on Friday, June 30, 2017, during the American Baptist Churches Biennial Mission Summit at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland, Oregon.
The Luke Mowbray Ecumenical Award was established in 1974 at the request of Edna Mowbray, in memory of her late husband to recognize their commitment to achieve Christian unity. Its purpose is to give recognition to a member of an American Baptist church who has made an outstanding contribution in ecumenical work at the local, state, national or international level as either a volunteer or paid professional. The Mowbrays were faithful members of First Baptist Church in Pratt, Kansas.
Dr. Totten has served faithfully in the position of chair of the Committee on Christian Unity and Interfaith Relations (CCUIR) since 2012. The CCUIR acts on behalf of the denomination to engage in ecumenical relationships through the National Council of Churches of Christ (NCC), Baptist World Alliance (BWA), World Council of Churches (WCC) and other organizations, to exemplify the Church’s oneness in Christ and to engage with interfaith partners such as the Islamic Society of North America and Shoulder to Shoulder to secure the blessings of religious liberty and peace for all. In addition to service on the CCUIR, she has served on the ABC General Board and Board of General Ministries since 2010, and will complete her second term in 2019.
Totten has represented American Baptist Churches USA on varying boards and committees of the World Council of Churches, the National Council of Churches, the Baptist World Alliance, and Christian Churches Together. Totten was involved in establishing the Baptist-Muslim Dialogue which is comprised of five Baptist denominations, including ABCUSA, and the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). The goal is to achieve mutual respect through national, regional and local dialogues between Baptists and Muslims. Under her leadership as chair of CCUIR, she was a strategic supporter of American Baptist participation in the development and founding of Shoulder to Shoulder, an interfaith organization composed of Christians, Jews and Muslims and has been in the forefront of efforts to address Islamaphobia in the United States and to advocate for Christians in Muslim-majority countries. She has also helped to reengage American Baptist work and partnership with Churches for Middle East Peace and the Church of the Brethren.
Having served Christ and the church for decades as a laywoman, Dr. Totten answered the call to serve Christ and became an ordained minister in 1981. As a pioneer woman in ministry, she helped pave the way for other women clergy.
Totten’s ecumenical involvements started at a young age in her neighborhood with childhood friends from differing faith traditions. In Rochester, New York, she worked ecumenically with the Rochester Area Council of Churches and its Board of Urban Ministry. There, she witnessed great cooperation between Protestants and Catholics and also worked closely with the Jewish community on racial reconciliation and civil rights.
She served American Baptist Churches as Director of Governmental Relations and worked cooperatively with representatives of many Protestant denominations, and several Catholic and Jewish groups. She was also elected chairperson of the Washington Interreligious Staff Council and helped to plan and direct its joint advocacy on legislative, administrative, and judicial governmental issues important to its faith communities.
Totten previously served as the director of the Women’s Department of the Baptist World Alliance, a global network which is responsible for linking together Baptist women from every continent in the development of faith, leadership, and service to others.
Throughout her years of service, in addition to national and international work Totten has been active in the life of the local church and ABC regions. She served as a pastor of the United Church in Hardwick, Vermont from 1989 – 2003. She held positions such as Trustee of the American Baptist Churches of Vermont and New Hampshire region and as Trustee at the Riverside Baptist Church in Washington DC; and she served on various committees and the Ministers Council of the District of Columbia Baptist Convention (DCBC). Dr. Totten is currently a faithful member of the Loraine Avenue Baptist Church in Glendora, CA. She is a volunteer worker in her retirement community, serving the community food center, environmental concerns, and is a chorale member.
General Secretary Emeritus A. Roy Medley said, “Dr. Totten, throughout her work for American Baptist Churches USA has exemplified the commitment we have to the unity of Christ’s church, cooperation in mission and ministry, and efforts to build peace through the promotion of religious liberty and interfaith understanding. She continues the long and proud American Baptist tradition of stretching forth the hand of Christian friendship to all in our desire to help achieve God’s will on earth in Dr. King’s words through the ‘beloved community.’”
American Baptist Churches USA is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with approximately 5,000 congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.