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May 03, 2012 | Union of Black Episcopalians

Four Women to Receive Inaugural Awards Named for Episcopal Trailblazers

The Rev. Altagracia Perez, Canon Bonnie Anderson, the Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas and Deborah Harmon Hines, Ph.D, are set to become the first recipients of the Pauli Murray Humanitarian Service Award and the Verna Josephine Dozier, Anna Julia Haywood Cooper and Mattie Hopkins Honor Awards, respectively.

“As varied as the reasons were for selection of each recipient, the UBE Board and selection committee overall felt that each person’s life work and journey exemplified the spirit of her award namesake,” said John E. Harris, Jr., president of the Union of Black Episcopalians.

UBE Partners in Mission, including the Union of Black Episcopalians, Episcopal Women’s Caucus, Episcopal Women’s History Project, Episcopal Church Women, Episcopal Church Foundation, Church Pension Fund, Consortium of Endowed Episcopal Parishes and others, will present the awards at the Legendary Tribute & Gala set for 6 p.m. on July 3 at the Indianapolis Marriot Downtown.

The Rt. Rev. Barbara Clementine Harris, retired, and the Rt. Rev. Catherine Maples Waynick of the Diocese of Indianapolis will serve as honorary co-chairs for the event.

Perez, rector of Holy Faith Episcopal Church, in Inglewood, CA, said when she learned she had been selected, “I was so proud and moved . . . Pauline Murray is one of my heroes and I was honored to accept.”

Perez is an Episcopal Church Foundation Fellow, and led the faith-based community in the “call to action” against policies instituted by the Walton family and Wal-Mart Corporation. Her ministry has focused on developing resources to support the work in urban congregations, understanding that leadership in urban multicultural, multilingual, theologically diverse congregations need training and support in order to do their ministries.

Anderson, president of the House of Deputies of the Episcopal Church said, “I am surprised and humbled to accept the invitation of the Union of Black Episcopalians to receive the Verna Josephine Dozier Award.” She said she met Dozier years ago at St. Mark’s when her daughter was part of the community service program at the national cathedral.

“We went to church at St. Mark’s Sunday morning and my daughter steered me into the pew right next to Dr. Dozier. When we exchanged the peace, I told her how much I valued her ministry and saw her as a living saint. After the service, she took my hand and walked with me out of the Church while we talked about being lay people.”

Anderson said “when the going gets tough” she reads from Dozier’s books where is able to “gain renewed courage and inspiration.”

Douglas, professor and director of religion at Goucher College and associate rector of Church of the Holy Comforter in Washington, D.C., said, “I am overwhelmed and humbled to be honored in such a way. It is with sincere humility and deep gratitude that I accept the invitation to be so honored as a recipient of the Anna Julia Cooper Award. Her pioneering witness as a proto womanist has been very important to my work. I thank you and the committee for this gracious honor.”

Douglas was the first black woman ordained a priest in the diocese of Southern Ohio. Her literary boldness and leadership in the development of a ‘womanist’ theology are a force to reckon with when discussing the complexities of Christian faith in African- American contexts.

Hines, vice provost for School Services and professor of cell biology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, said “I am humbled to receive the Mattie Hopkins Award.”

Hines was the first elected lay president of UBE and ignited a movement when she joined with Hopkins, Myrtle Gordon and Bishop Barbara Harris (then Rev.) at the 1981 Task Force on Women conference and addressed the distrust of the feminist movement and unveiled what became known as “The Black Women’s Agenda” – a challenge to white feminism.

For more information about the gala and to purchase tickets click here.