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Presbyterian Voices for Justice Awards luncheon

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Photo of a man and woman holding an award

Ann and Manley Olson from Roseville, Minn., received the Andrew Murray Award during the Voices for Justice Luncheon. —Photo by Dennis Sanders.

Members of two Minnesota churches were honored at the Presbyterian Voices for Justice awards luncheon Sunday at the 219th General Assembly (2010).

The Andrew Murray Award went to Ann and Manley Olson of Falcon Heights, Minn., for their outstanding leadership in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). As members of North Como Presbyterian Church in Roseville, the two have been longtime, active Presbyterian leaders at congregational, presbytery and national levels. Manley Olson is currently serving as co-chairperson of the Committee on Local Arrangements (COLA), and Ann serves on the COLA executive committee.

And it was from their joint suggestion in 2009 that the Witherspoon Society merged with Voices of Sophia to become Voices for Justice.

Members of the Kwanzaa Community Church, Minneapolis, were honored with the Whole Gospel Congregation Award for commitment to living out the radical, liberating good news in our society and the wider world.

The Rev. Bebe Baldwin, Presbytery of Twin Cities Area, introduced the Kwanzaa Church as a different way to “do” church. She described how a community garden has flourished in a vacant lot near the church. She likened this ministry to the miracle performed with the loaves and fishes, feeding all the children.

Kwanzaa’s newest project, the Northside Women’s Space, is a drop-in safe haven for women and teens trapped in prostitution.

The lunch presentation included speaker Mary Elva Smith, acting general presbyter for the Sierra Mission Partnership. She encouraged the audience to “listen, pay attention and wonder.”

“What is God calling us to do right now?” Smith asked. “Have we (the church) changed anything since the year 2000? The world has changed. Have we? We are all called to make a difference.”