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RSV Bible Anniversary, Awards, Resolutions Conclude NCC Assembly

November 16, 2002, TAMPA, Fla. -- Joy and reverence marked the National Council of Churches General Assembly's celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, as translators shared what it means to them to work so closely with the Bible's sacred texts.

"Translation is a serious business," Dr. Walter J. Harrelson reflected at the dinner celebration in Tampa, Fla., Nov. 16, Marvin Roloff, at microphone, and Walter Harrelson, at far right, were among those who spoke at the 50th anniversary celebration of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, an NCC project.which concluded the assembly's Nov. 14-16 annual meeting.  The Bible is "a reality so mysterious and powerful that it has opened the eyes of many through the centuries.  It's a text that has claimed our own lives."

The NCC holds the copyright on the RSV -- of which the Old and New Testaments were published Sept. 30, 1952 -- and its successor, the New Revised Standard Version Bible, published in 1989. 

The Rev. Arthur (Bud) O. Van Eck, former director of the NCC's Bible Translation and Utilization work, described the decision to keep the Revised Standard Version in print, not terminate it upon publication of the New Revised Standard Version.  "People love it," he said of the RSV.

A second celebration of the golden anniversary of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible is slated for a luncheon on Monday, November 25, during the meetings in Toronto of the American Association of Religion and Society of Biblical Literature.

Also at the Saturday night dinner:

  • NCC President Elenie K. Huszagh, Esq., honored Mrs. Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis, Ambassador of Cyprus to the United States, with the 2002 NCC President's Award, hailing her "struggles for justice and peace" for the people of the MediterraneanElenie Huszagh, left, and award recipient Ambassador Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis of Cyprus island nation.  Turkey invaded Cyprus in 1974, and continues to occupy one-third of the country in defiance of United Nations resolutions.  Now, with both Turkey and Cyprus seeking membership in the European Union, there is renewed pressure for a resolution.  The Ambassador, addressing the General Assembly, said, "We want to see our people -- Christian and Muslim, Greek and Turkish, build a common home in unity and cooperation, build bridges of tolerance and understanding.  We need justice and the rule of law, where the human rights of all citizens are fully safeguarded.  We need peace, demilitarization, a culture of inclusion, respect and dignity." 

  • NCC General Secretary Robert W. Edgar honored Dr. Jack McConnell, Founder of Volunteers in Medicine, with the 2002 NCC General Secretary's Award.  Dr. McConnell led the team that invented Tylenol and was among architects of the Human Genome Project, Dr. Edgar said.   Retirement led Dr. McConnell to Hilton Head, S.C., where he realized that the affluent community also was home to thousands of poor people who lacked medical care of any kind.  "He became an evangelist for medical service for those who had none," Dr. Edgar said.  In 1993, he recruited retired healthcare professionals to staff the first Volunteers in Medicine Clinic there, which now provides "free, dignified and technically cutting edge medical service to those without health care."   Since 1996, his Volunteers in Medicine Institute has replicated that model, establishing some more 30 clinics with another 40 to 60 clinics in the process of development.  Dr. McConnell sent his appreciation for the award and regrets at not being able to be present to receive it.

On Saturday, the NCC General Assembly also:

approved establishment of an NCC-wide planning commission to recommend next steps in ecumenical work around the issue of genetic engineering. The commission is to bring its recommendations to the May 2003 meeting of the NCC Executive Board.  Click here for the resolution's text.

voted unanimously to call on the Israeli government to recognize the August 2001 canonical election of His Beatitude Irenaios as Patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem.  Without that recognition, explained NCC President Elenie Huszagh, the Patriarchate is unable to function as a legal entity in Israel, and is thus unable to oversee properly the Holy Shrines and other property under its jurisdiction and to operate the schools, hospitals and other institutions through which is serves Greek Orthodox Christians in the Holy Land.  The American Jewish Committee repeatedly has asked the Israeli government to recognize Patriarch Irenaios, she noted.  Click here for the resolution's text.

Also on Saturday:

  • The Rev. Bertrice Wood of the United Church of Christ, Executive Director of Churches Uniting in Christ, led worship, and the Church of the Brethren delegation led Bible study on the theme "Working for Peace," drawing on Matthew 5:9: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God."


Index to Stories and Documentation from the 2002 General Assembly:

NCC General Assembly Meets Nov. 14-16 Under the Theme "For the Common Good"

NCC to U.S.: "Do All Possible, Without Going to War" to Resolve the Iraq Crisis
Full text: "After September 11, 2001: Public Policy Considerations for the United States of America"
Full text: "Resolution Expressing Appreciation for the U.S. Catholic Bishops' Statement on Iraq"

NCC General Assembly Concludes with Awards, RSV Celebration, Resolutions
Full text:
Resolution Recognizing the Patriarch of Jerusalem
Full text: Resolution Establishing an Exploratory Commission on Human Genetic Technologies

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