Teens honored for service

Niles Interfaith Banquet

NILES — Local teens were recognized for their service not only to their churches but also their work in the community by the Niles Interfaith Committee.

The committee hosted its annual banquet where five high school seniors were presented the Thomas Murphy Youth Memorial Award of $500 each to Sabrina Boyd of Niles First Presbyterian Church, Tristen Hodgkinson of Mineral Ridge Church of Christ, Andrew Mohn of Niles First United Methodist Church, Kaylee Novicky of Mineral Ridge Church of Christ and Jimayzeya Ware of Valley Baptist Church.

Each of the teens is active at their church through vacation Bible school, community meals, church ushering, church work projects, praise team, praise dancing and back-to-school giveaway.

The annual event is held in honor of the Rev. Bernard Oaks and in memory of Murphy, who were co-founders of the first banquet. Today 10 Niles, Lordstown and Mineral Ridge area churches participate in the program.

The Rev. Paula Marbury of Niles First United Methodist Church said it is important to celebrate youth.

“When looking over the applications we had unique individuals in their own right who are such a blessing. Our young people are involved in so many ways and are wonderful examples of what it is to be a Christian youth,” she said.

Guest speaker at the event was the Rev. James Korda, administrator at St. Stephen Church, who spoke on the topic “What Does it Mean to Be Ecumenical?”

“I try to look at that question looking at my own personal experiences with the Jewish community, the interfaith dialogues, the Protestants and other communities, and others. We can answer that question in a number of different ways,” Korda said.

He said to be ecumenical one must pray regularly for the unity of the church.

“Humble prayer is important … Take an active part in the renewal of one’s church. There is a need for physical, emotional and spiritual renewal for all of us,” Korda said.

He said people are curious and fascinated by what is different from their own traditions.

“People in mixed marriages from different churches can learn about each other’s faiths. So many are fascinated by another person’s faith. Truth is seldom discovered in isolation. We can learn about one another and understand another’s faith and traditions,” Korda said.

Korda said being ecumenical means willing to learn, creating an awareness of other faiths that helps lead to common ground.

He said it is important for all faiths and denominations to be willing to work together and how respect and listening is crucial to having dialogue.

“We need to work for Christian unity. It takes time. Christ suffered for unity and at times so will we. The message of unity is our mission. When we work together in unity, that is God’s gift to us,” he said.

“Ultimately the church is a sign of God’s presence in the world. It takes Biblical patience to bring about unity in Christ’s church,” Korda said.