From the Worldwide Faith News archives

New York congressman receives Faith and Public Service Award

From Worldwide Faith News <>
Date Thu, 29 Apr 2004 12:24:26 -0700

Thursday, April 29, 2004

by Nicole Seiferth

ENS 042904-1

[ENS] Members of Congress and the Washington community came together April 
28 to honor Congressman Amory Houghton Jr., as the Most Rev. Frank T. 
Griswold presented him with the Presiding Bishop's Award for Faith and 
Public Service. Bishop M. Thomas Shaw of Massachusetts and Congressman John 
Lewis of Georgia were guest speakers at the ceremony.

The Presiding Bishop's Award for Faith and Public Service is given to a lay 
member of the Episcopal Church who, in his or her public life, has 
demonstrated the profound influence of faith as shaped by the Anglican 
tradition. The award was last given in 2000 to Pamela P. Chinnis, president 
of the Episcopal Church's House of Deputies from 1991 to 2000.

Houghton was elected to Congress for the state of New York in 1986, 
following a long career with Corning Glass Works (later Corning 
Incorporated). Well known as a moderate Republican, he is a founding member 
of the Republican Main Street Partnership, which fosters centrist values 
within the party. He is also, along with Lewis, co-chair of the Faith and 
Politics Institute, an organization created to support and empower 
political leaders through spiritual reflection and discernment. Houghton 
announced in early April that he will retire from public office at the end 
of this year.

Among those attending the ceremony were Episcopal members of Congress, 
members of the New York congressional delegation, Faith and Politics 
Institute, and the Republican Main Street Partnership, as well as family 
and friends. Fresh Start Catering, a non-profit organization that trains 
the traditionally unemployable for careers in food services and uses its 
profits to support the DC Central Kitchen for the homeless, catered the 

Always building bridges

Shaw, a longtime friend of Houghton and his wife, Priscilla, opened the 
ceremony at the Lutheran Church of the Reformation. "His kindness, his 
pastoral care, his sense of fairness, his civility...all of that Amo 
Houghton learned from the master, our Lord Jesus Christ, in inviting Christ 
deeper and deeper into his life," Shaw said.

He also addressed the importance of recognizing Houghton's commitment to 
dialogue in government and beyond. "We so deeply need, with all the 
polarization in the church, in government, in our society, an icon like 
Amo, who is always building bridges, always trying to get people to talk to 
one another and come together," Shaw said.

Lewis, who met Houghton in 1987 when they were both freshmen 
representatives, spoke eloquently of his work in Washington. "I believe Amo 
sees his involvement in politics as an extension of his faith. He is a 
believer that...we come into this world to make a contribution, to do some 
good," he said.

Houghton told of passing the Lincoln Memorial on the way to an orientation 
meeting, and asking Lewis if he, too, had been there the day Martin Luther 
King Jr. spoke in 1963. He recounted his chagrin at discovering that Lewis, 
a civil rights activist from an early age, was actually one of the speakers 
that day. The congressmen have worked together often, most recently in 
co-chairing the Faith and Politics Institute.

"When historians pick up their pens and write about this period in our 
history," Lewis concluded with obvious emotion, "they will have to write 
that a man--a gentleman, a leader, a friend...tried to make a difference, 
tried to bring people together."

Griswold then presented the award--a garden statue of St. Francis of 
Assisi--to Houghton and also read letters of greeting from Bishop Jack 
McKelvey of Rochester and former president Bill Clinton.

"You have been a beacon for both your commitment to the faith of Christ and 
for the many ways it can be lived out in real life," McKelvey wrote.

Griswold explained to the audience the philosophy behind the award and 
Houghton's appropriateness as a recipient. "The Anglican tradition has at 
its heart...the diverse center... It is able to contain divergent points of 
view and seeks to bring those points of view together in creative tension 
that serves the common good," Griswold said. "That Anglican consciousness 
is perfectly embodied in Amo."

Houghton accepted the award and accolades of his peers with characteristic 
modesty and humor. Thanking Griswold, he said, "Bishop, you're our 
leader--outgoing, far reaching, gutsy, strong. I'm so honored to be part of 
your flock, so I thank you."

--Nicole Seiferth is communications aide for the Office of the Presiding 

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