The annual Jo Dawson Service Award honors Fellowship members who have been generous with their time and talents to support our covenantal community. There are so many who contribute so much it is difficult to single out one person or family to honor.

This award was first presented to Jo Dawson in 1999 upon her retirement from serving 18 years as the editor of our Fellowship newsletter. When the Board wanted to honor her, they realized that many members should be thanked for their contributions, and the best way to do that was to establish an annual award. This would allow us to both recognize Jo in a special way and provide the opportunity to honor many others in the years to come. This is our 22nd presentation, and the first time we’ve selected a recipient in December instead of in May.

In order to give this award the consideration it deserves, the Board established a committee of past award recipients who accepted and reviewed your nominations. Membership Manager, Caron Armstrong, convened the 2020 task force. Ann Barefield, Pat and Tom McKay, and Andi and Ken Ostberg agreed to serve on the task force in this unconventional year. In the past, the Board president has presented the award, but in these unusual times in 2020, Board President Mary Law reached out to Loretta Arnn and Chris Kelsey, last year’s recipients, to start a new tradition!

Though members who share generously of their time and talents do not expect recognition, we need to celebrate their hard work and remember why we do the work we do. This is especially true in 2020, a time when our community has been challenged and has strived to stay connected in beloved community. To quote Jo in her response to the Board upon presentation of the award, she said: “As longtime members realize, there is no amount of volunteer time or effort that can adequately match what the Fellowship gives to those who choose it as their family. It is, in my opinion, how the ideal family ought to be: free thinking, forgives silly mistakes, awakens compassion and offers a foundation from which to challenge narrow-mindedness and meanness. May it ever be so.”

This year’s recipient of the Jo Dawson Service Award is Kathy Orms. As chair of the Leadership Development Committee, she has worked with both the Fellowship Coordinating Council and the Committee on Ministry to identify and train potential leaders. Kathy is active in EcoSolutions and also attends the Forum at times. She was instrumental in getting our successful Women’s Retreats implemented. Currently, she is an instrumental leader in the Social Action Council’s racial justice work, The Shape of Justice.

Kathy has served our Fellowship in so many ways, but her expertise is in the area of healing interpersonal relationships and facilitating a pathway to leadership. In both official and unofficial capacities, she has demonstrated enormous talent for negotiation and helping parties resolve differences. To reach a state of harmony in the world, Kathy sees that we must first establish that within our personal lives and within our Fellowship. She has dedicated her energy, time and expertise to help our congregation.

Thank you, Kathy, for your dedication to our beloved community. And thank you, members and friends, for your nominations. The plaque with Kathy’s name on it will be hung in the Fellowship foyer and we look forward to the day we can all gather there safely to see it!