MINNEAPOLIS, MINN – (May 17, 2017) – “When religion has been used to divide people, you have been a constant voice that can unite us,” said Saint Paul Mayer Chris Coleman to Rev. Canon Peg Chemberlin, retiring CEO of the Minnesota Council of Churches, at a reception in her honor at the Minnesota Church Center tonight.

 

Speakers including Mayor Coleman, Minneapolis Foundation President R.T. Rybak, Minnesota Conference United Church of Christ Conference Minister Rev. Shari Prestemon, Church of God in Christ Minnesota Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction Bishop Fred Washington and (by video) Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar shared their praise of Rev. Chemberlin. The wide array of speakers reflected the breadth and depth of the Minnesota Council of Churches’ relationships.

 

Reflecting on the Council’s role in organizing a public service after 9/11, Rybak, a former Minneapolis mayor, said “You put wind in my sails as a rookie mayor right after 9/11.” He went on to tell the group of 150 people that Rev. Chemberlin is “a warrior for peace.”

 

Bishop Washington read a proclamation from Governor Mark Dayton proclaiming May 17 “Minnesota Council of Churches Day” given that the Minnesota Council of Churches “represents approximately 37% of Minnesota’s faith community” and saying the Council’s “dedication to fostering compassionate, justice-oriented dialogue has enriched the lives of those in Minnesota and beyond” and that it “works to welcome refugees to our state” and to “bring Christians and Muslims together.”

 

Rev. Prestemon quoted Rev. Chemberlin’s ecumenical vision, saying “we cannot be the church without being the church together.”

 

Rev. Chemberlin also spoke, sharing the story of how after his negative comments about religion she had worked repeatedly to get in touch with then-Governor Jesse Ventura, who ultimately would only agree to a meeting if the heads of Minnesota’s other major religious groups were also present. That meeting, which the Minnesota Council of Churches put together, formed the basis of a relationship that months later led Gov. Ventura’s staff to ask MCC to partner with it in creating a post-9/11 event that would be more about hope than anger. Echoing a Bill Clinton campaign slogan, she said her working philosophy was “it’s the relationships, stupid.”

 

She concluded her comments by saying “Thank you for letting me walk with you on a journey that not only preaches the good news but lives it.”

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