Gov. Jay Nixon and Rev. Traci Blackmon

Rev. Traci Blackmon prayed with Gov. Jay Nixon at her church, Christ the King United Church of Christ in Florissant, on August 14, 2014, the day he first declared a State of Emergency in Ferguson. The Center for Spirituality and Sustainability will honor Blackmon with its Spirituality Leadership Award on Saturday, April 14.

The Center for Spirituality and Sustainability will honor the Rev. Traci Blackmon and Sheila Voss at its 15th annual Leadership Awards Dinner on Saturday, April 14, at 7 p.m. in the LeClaire Room on the N. O. Nelson Campus of Lewis and Clark Community College in Edwardsville.

The center annually bestows awards for Spirituality Leadership and Leadership in Sustainability. These awards reflect the center’s mission to “promote humanity’s sacred connection to the Earth and each other.”

Blackmon, executive minister of Justice and Local Church Ministries of The United Church of Christ and senior pastor of Christ The King United Church of Christ in Florissant, will receive the Spirituality Leadership Award. Initially ordained in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Rev. Blackmon’s communal leadership and work in the aftermath of the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, received both national and international recognition, and earned audiences from the White House to the Carter Center to the Vatican.

She was appointed to the Ferguson Commission by Governor Jay Nixon and to the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based Neighborhood Partnerships for the White House by President Barack Obama.

“I am a called person of faith person who believes in justice, in fighting for justice in every way possible. You can’t just fight from the White House or any infrastructure, but you also can’t leave those opportunities out,” Blackmon told The American at the time of her White House appointment.

“It’s not more important than the street, it’s not less important. You have to do all of it. It’s a long way from Pennsylvania Avenue to West Florissant, but somebody has to be the link to what’s really happening.”

Voss, vice president of education at the Missouri Botanical Garden, will accept the Sustainability Leadership Award. She helps engage, educate, and inspire current and future generations of citizens to transition to a more sustainable world. She leads a team of diverse professionals, including environmental science educators, early childhood specialists, curriculum developers, teen program coordinators, public engagement strategists, exhibit designers and community outreach staff based at the Garden, Shaw Nature Reserve and the Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House.

The Center for Spirituality and Sustainability is a non-profit, multi-faith home for spirituality and sustainability efforts housed in the Buckminster Fuller dome on the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville campus.

For reservations, contact Juli Jacobson at 618-650-3246 or juljaco@siue.edu. Tickets are $55 and partially tax deductible.

North County Churches appreciate youth 

North County Churches Uniting for Racial Harmony and Justice (NCCU) will host its Annual Youth Appreciation Dinner 4 p.m. Sunday, April 15 in the Paul F. Detrick Atrium Building at Christian Hospital NE. The keynote speaker will be Nettie Collins-Hart, superintendent of Hazelwood School District. Pastor Monica Jefferson of St. Andrews UMC will emcee, and music will be provided by Gwendolyn Wesley (a well-known member of a choir in the St. Louis area).

NCCU will once again be recognizing 15 outstanding students in the areas of Education, Community Service, Citizenship, Artistic achievement, and Athletics from Hazelwood, Ferguson-Florissant, and Jennings school districts. Everyone is welcomed to attend. Tickets are $20 each and may be obtained by contacting Rance Thomas, at 314 238-6828 or Barbara Thompson, at 314 780-4464.

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