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Luncheon named for Claire Randall
honors women who led the way

New York, December 3, 2007 Claire Randall, the National Council of Churches' first woman general secretary, was an undisputed pioneer in the quest for a more visible unity among the churches.

Randall's death September 9 at the age of 91 prompted a number of memorials in her honor, including naming in her honor the annual women's luncheon of the General Assembly of the National Council of Churches and Church World Service.

This year the Claire Randall luncheon acknowledged the leadership of its namesake by honoring 24 women who also helped lead the way to Christian unity.

The women, who represented the wide spectrum of traditions represented by the NCC's 35 member communions, were selected because of their leadership in the NCC's Justice for Women Working Group and for the example they set for a new generation of ecumenists.

"Some of these women were active when the ecumenical movement was still a relatively new idea," said Clare J. Chapman, NCC Acting General Secretary. "They showed us the way and inspired other ecumenists women and men to follow them."

Among the honorees was Dr. Thelma Adair, a university professor who was the first African American moderator of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and a former president of Church Women United.

Several of the women honored were former members of the National Council of Churches staff, including Carol Fouke-Mpoyo (United Church of Christ), Karen Hessel (Presbyterian Church USA), Sarah Vilankulu (Episcopal Church) and Mary Anderson Cooper (Episcopal Church), who served in the NCC's Washington Office for 35 years. The Rev. Dr. Eileen Lindner, another honoree, is Deputy General Secretary of the NCC for Research and Planning.

Bernice Powell-Jackson (United Church of Christ), North American president of the World Council of Churches, was honored, as was Elenie K. Huszagh (Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America), a former president of the National Council of Churches. Dr. Thelma Chambers-Young (Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc.) is a vice president of the NCC.

Other honored women included heads of regional ecumenical organizations, former communion ecumenical officers, educators and denominational staff.

The honored women were:

Thelma Adair (Presbyterian Church USA), Else "Mia" Adjali (United Methodist Church), Thelma Chambers-Young (Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc.), Rothangliani Chhangte (American Baptist Churches in the USA), Joanne Chadwick (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America), Marge Christie (Episcopal Church), Mary Cooper (Episcopal Church), and Carol Q. Cosby (Christian Church, Disciples of Christ).

Also, Marsha L. Dutton (Episcopal Church), Eileen W. Lindner (Presbyterian Church USA), Joan Martin (Episcopal Church), Carol Fouke-Mpoyo (United Church of Christ), Peggy Halsey (United Methodist Church), Karen Hessel (Presbyterian Church USA), Elenie K. Huszagh (Greek Orthodox Church in America), Jane Lawrence (Christian Church, Disciples of Christ), and Jean Martensen (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America).

Also, Mary L. Mild, American Baptist Churches in the USA), Bernice Powell-Jackson (United Church of Christ), Peggy Shriver (Presbyterian Church USA), Rebecca J. Tollefson (Presbyterian Church USA), Sarah Vilankulu (Episcopal Church), Ellen K. Wondra (Episcopal Church), and Angelique Walker-Smith (National Baptist Convention USA, Inc.)

For more information contact Ann Tiemeyer, 212-870-3407
NCC News contact:  Philip E. Jenks, 212-870-2228