This past Saturday I attended the memorial service of Pastor Emeritus Richard A. Bradford, a man who served for over 50 years in different leadership capacities over the course of his life. Most recently he served as Senior Pastor at St. Ashworth Church of God in Christ. Someone shared at this God-glorifying service how they wish they would have given Pastor Bradford this kind of recognition when he was alive to hear it. I left the service moved by the life and legacy of Pastor Bradford and also motivated once again of the need to tell those I love and appreciate “thank you” on this side of heaven.
Speaking of showing appreciation and saying “thank you,” an unlikely entity that is good at doing this is Hollywood. They recognize and honor people for their talents, whether on the big screen or in music or other areas. Ever hear of the Oscars, the Grammys, the Tonys, the Academy Awards, the Emmys… You could become an awards show junkie if you so desired. Some reading this might roll their eyes and think it’s just one more opportunity for celebrities to walk the red carpet in all their glitz and glamour. While that may also be true, no matter how you may feel about these awards shows, the fact of the matter is, people’s gifts and talents are acknowledged.
Each year The Love Akron Network provides an opportunity to acknowledge servant leaders in our community at our Annual Servant Leadership Awards Breakfast. This year’s event, our seventh, will take place on Tuesday, October 2, at the John S. Knight Center. While we don’t roll out the red carpet and invite the paparazzi, we do draw 600+ people from all sectors of the Greater Akron Area. I’m excited about our focus for this year’s event, which is “Akron Thanks Her,” celebrating and honoring women leaders in our community.
We will be presenting two awards at the Breakfast. The first is the Burnham Unruh Servant Award, which is given in honor of the life and legacy of Judge Brenda Burnham Unruh, an amazing woman of God. Brenda modeled for all of us what love for Christ looks like, as lived out through a posture of servanthood in the community. Brenda demonstrated a tough faith in God and a love of people all throughout her life, even in her hard-fought battle with cancer; she went home to be with the Lord on March 13, 2011. We will be sharing a special tribute to Brenda at this year’s Breakfast. It was her life that became the inspiration for the Love Akron Breakfast.
Who, in your opinion, is known as both an outstanding community servant leader and also a committed Christ follower? They deserve special recognition, and I’m asking you to submit their name for this award, which you can do so here. (You can also request an email copy to be sent to you if you prefer to print out the form and send it in that way. Send that request to email@example.com.) Since Brenda’s vocation was in the marketplace, this particular award is presented to a marketplace leader who is recognized by their peers as someone who demonstrates the following qualities:
- Must be a Christian and a devout disciple of Jesus Christ.
- Must be a person of utmost integrity and good moral character.
- Must be bold in his or her Christian faith and witness in the community.
- Must have demonstrated servant leadership in the community at large as is evidenced by their involvement on boards, committees, and initiatives and other like responsibilities.
- Must treat people with dignity and respect regardless of their faith status.
- Is not a clergy in a compensated ministry position in a local church or para-church ministry.
The other award is the Fowler-Larson Allies Award, which is presented in honor of two of the original founders of The Love Akron Network, Dr. Ronald Fowler and Pastor Knute Larson. These two giants in the Church and community became best friends and as a result, became known as bridge-building allies. Two men of different color, pastoring churches of different denominational stripes, laid aside their differences and have left a legacy for building bridges across areas that too often separate the Church and the community. Since these two men served as vocational pastors, the Allies Award will be presented to two people who serve in positions of spiritual leadership in their church or Christian ministry.
What spiritual leaders have captured your attention and respect as one(s) who tear down walls that too often separate the colors, cultures, congregations, and classes of people; and who is their ally? This is your opportunity to express your appreciation for their example by nominating them for the Fowler-Larson Allies Award, which you can do here. (You can also request an email copy to be sent to you if you prefer to print out the form and send it in that way. Send that request to firstname.lastname@example.org.) The nominees for the Fowler-Larson Allies Award must meet the following criteria:
- Must have demonstrated or are demonstrating an intentional effort to build bridges with another individual or institution of diverse color, culture, or congregational tradition.
- Must be in a recognized ministry position with a local church or para-church ministry within the Christian community in the greater Akron area. Bi-vocational individuals are eligible.
- Individuals who serve on The Love Akron Network support staff or Board of Directors are eligible for this award. The Executive Director of The Love Akron Network is not eligible for the Allies Award.
All nominations are due by 5 pm on Tuesday, May 15.
The Bible tells us to give honor to whom honor is due. Help us honor people in our community who are worthy of our admiration and respect. Whether or not you choose to nominate anyone, won’t you take time out of your busy day to say “thank you” to someone in your own life for the ways they have made your life better and richer? Let’s not wait until it’s too late to express our gratitude and appreciation for the people God has placed into our lives.