Judith McCullough Receives Irving C. Lambert Award

Post a Comment » Written on June 26th, 2009     
Filed under: News
PORTLAND, OR (June 26, 2009) – Judith McCullough grew up in a small southern Michigan town, where she knew only one African American person and two Japanese Americans before she went off to college.

“However I was blessed with parents who always talked about ‘making the circle bigger’ and including everyone,” recalls the retired Evangelical Covenant Church pastor.

OneDuring a special presentation today during the denomination’s 124th Annual Meeting, President Gary Walter presented the small-town girl (top photo) with the Irving C. Lambert Award for her years of excellence in urban ministry. The Commission on Urban Ministries administers the award through the Department of Church Growth and Evangelism (CGE).

“This is not anything I expected,” she said in response, “but I am humbled. Thank you for this honor.”

She thanked her husband, Tom (lower photo), and five children for being so supportive. She also thanked those with whom she has worked over the years. “I have been blessed with great souls to journey with me in ministry,” she said. She also praised the support the denomination gives to its clergy. “It’s amazing and wonderful,” she said. “I have grown as a follower of Jesus Christ in this church.”

Recalling her childhood years, she noted a sandbox her parents placed in their yard, which was open to all of the children in the neighborhood. She likens the love of God to that sandbox – a place where everyone is welcome. “Everyone plays with the toys,” she noted, “and no one throws sand. Jesus calls us to be inclusive, to share the toys and never throw sand.”

TwoAfter graduating college, McCullough served as director of Christian education at a Presbyterian congregation in Pittsburgh. “I began early on working with African American pastors on the North Side to develop tutoring and summer Vacation Bible School programs,” she says. “I was involved in the Civil Rights movement through marches, enlisting support for fair housing covenants, and taking youth groups on urban work camps in several of our major cities.”

McCullough adds, “Everytime I went into Detroit or Pittsburgh or New York, I just knew that I felt alive and fulfilled. For all of my years in ministry, I was taking groups of kids and adults into the city to learn about the ways that God was working there in those neighborhoods, even though I couldn’t figure out how I could live there.”

She served for years as an urban retreat director at Grace House for youth in the Boston, Massachusetts, area. She continued her commitment to the urban community when she became senior pastor of the Covenant Congregational Church in the inner city of Boston.

During her eleven years at Covenant Congregational Church, she served as one of the leaders in Boston as part of the 10-Point Coalition, alongside the renowned Rev. Eugene Rivers. This coalition dealt with the incessant violence in the community, working toward racial reconciliation in a city that was racially divided.

She has also served her community through working for various candidates running for offices in the African American community.

McCullough’s experience of working cross-culturally has not been limited to the United States, however. Beginning in 1987, she traveled to El Salvador at least 10 times to work at a health clinic.

“Working there and getting to know another culture richly blessed my life and my ministry,” she says.

McCullough retired in 2005, but has continued to minister in local churches. She served as an interim pastor for 16 months at Covenant Congregational Church in North Easton, Massachusetts; preached seven weeks at Salem Covenant Church in Worcester, Massachusetts, during the pastor’s sabbatical, and is now developing a ministry for single adults at Cape Cod Covenant Church in Brewster, Massachusetts, where she is now a member.

McCullough says she was surprised when CGE interim Executive Minister John Notehelfer called to tell her that the commission wanted to honor her. “It was a very humbling experience since I don’t feel like I have done anything so special. But I know my mother would say, ‘Just say thank you.’ ”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Report This Post

Leave a Reply

Report This Blog