From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
New York congressman receives Faith and Public Service Award
Worldwide Faith News <email@example.com>
Thu, 29 Apr 2004 12:24:26 -0700
Thursday, April 29, 2004
by Nicole Seiferth
[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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