Two Charlotte ministers and the director of a local network of food pantries were honored Wednesday for their community work by Mecklenburg Ministries.
The group of about 100 congregations addresses social issues and seeks to forge interfaith relationships. During the annual awards breakfast at Park Road Baptist Church that drew nearly 300 people, the interfaith organization handed out the following awards:
• Beverly Howard, executive director of Loaves & Fishes since 1988, received the group’s Community Leader award. During her years heading the charity, the program’s network has grown from six food pantries to 19. The number of people served by Loaves & Fishes during her years at the helm has jumped from 20,000 to more than 120,000.
• The Rev. Russ Dean, who co-pastors Park Road Baptist with his wife, the Rev. Amy Jacks Dean, was the recipient of one of two Bridge Builder awards. Dean has served in leadership posts at several groups dedicated to social action, including Mecklenburg Ministries (two years as president). His church also has provided office space for the interfaith group as well as Crisis Assistance Ministry and Loaves & Fishes Food Pantry.
• The Rev. Rodney Sadler was the other Bridge Builder award winner. He’s an associate professor of Bible studies at Union Presbyterian Seminary and associate pastor at Mount Carmel Baptist Church. Sadler has also been a leader in mobilizing Charlotte clergy to participate in “Moral Monday” rallies to protest laws enacted by the N.C. General Assembly that they contend hurt the poor and minorities. Along with Dean, Sadler helped establish a clergy lunch program and participated in the first-ever interfaith clergy build for Habitat for Humanity.
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