Interfaith Council Awards Honors at Power of One Banquet
By Margaret Snider
The four faith leaders being honored at the Interfaith Council of Greater Sacramento’s Power of One banquet are (left to right) Mary Wesley, president of Jericho Foundation, Pastor Rick Cole of Capital Christian Center, Dr. Ephraim Williams, pastor of St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church, and Beth White, pastoral associate at Our Lady of Assumption Parish. They received their awards at this year’s venue, the Sacramento Cordova Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Photo by Margaret Snider
RANCHO CORDOVA, CA (MPG) - The Interfaith Council of Greater Sacramento paid tribute to four honorees at this year’s Power of One 2014 banquet on May 15. The Sacramento Cordova Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints provided the venue. More than 200 people attended representing a variety of religions, traditions and organizations.
Recipients of this year’s awards given to members of the Interfaith Council for outstanding service in the community included Mary Wesley, Pastor Rick Cole, Dr. Ephraim Williams, and Beth White.
Wesley has been a humanitarian and a doer all her life, involved in many functions in the interfaith arena, and has been president of Jericho Foundation for several years.
“The Interfaith Council brings to the table the issues that affect our community and our greater human needs,” Wesley said. “Our concerns overlap and our voices mingle.”
Rick Cole of Capital Christian Center took over the pulpit from his father, Pastor Glen Cole, who founded the Sacramento area’s first mega-church 34 years ago. Rick Cole sees two important ingredients in the work and purpose of the Interfaith Council.
“One is to break down barriers of misunderstanding among faith groups so that we can appreciate one another and celebrate the work each is doing in our community,” Cole said. “The other is to encourage collaboration in our efforts to meet the needs of the underserved in our community.”
Williams, pastor of St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church, said that having multiple groups assisting in projects builds positive relationships.
“There are several urgencies within the Sacramento area,” Williams said. “(One is to) give one-on-one guidance and assistance to help our young people in the areas of education, citizenship, and how to become a responsible adult. (Another is) to help guide people to become aware of God and establish a relationship with Him.”
White is now pastoral associate at Our Lady of Assumption Parish of the Catholic Church in Carmichael, after 12 years as associate director of Catholic Charities of Sacramento.
“I consider her in the same league as Mother Teresa,” said the Rev. Michael Kiernan of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sacramento, “living the gospel here in Sacramento, serving the downtown poor, refugees, immigrants and others in her Catholic Charities work.”
The Interfaith Council also presented a “Giving Back to the Community” award of $2,500 to Women’s Empowerment of Sacramento, represented by Kate Towson.
The evening began with music by the Camerata Chamber Choir of Sacramento, directed by Mary Wesley, and the Folsom Lake Youth Choir.
Youth of the LDS church, attired in black and white, served dinner and attended tables throughout the evening.
Brandon Singer, 17, who attends Del Campo High School, was one of the many Mormon youth who received training the night before and helped out that evening.
Someone asked Singer if he didn’t have a problem spending his Wednesday and Thursday nights doing this.
“No, in our church we’re very prone to giving service,” Singer told the person. “It was great to be able to see all these different religions meet under one roof. With all the publicity you hear about all these different religions not liking each other – being able to see everybody communicate with one another in one building was great. I was just grateful for the organization that puts this on.”
The Interfaith Council of Greater Sacramento was incorporated in 1911 as the Federation of Churches. Jon Fish, a member of the LDS church, is president of the council, and served as master of ceremonies for this event.
“I had ‘in person’ compliments; I have had phone calls today, and two dozen e-mails all commenting on the quality of it all,” said Fish. “Each time they say it was so ‘beautiful’ and ‘elegant’ and ‘well managed.’ Everyone was pleased with the young people serving. Two Catholic priests told me in separate e-mails that they believe what we’re doing with interfaith is absolutely essential to our community and its people.”
To learn more about the Interfaith Council, visit www.sacramentointerfaith.org.