Ecumenical line-up for papal prayer service in NYC announced

On April 18, Pope Benedict XVI will lead an ecumenical prayer service at St. Joseph’s Church in Manhattan with some 250 national and regional Protestant and Orthodox leaders.

Today, the U.S. Bishops Conference identified the 10 national and 5 New York-based ecumenical leaders who will greet the pope at the end of the ceremony.

The 15 leaders (with descriptions provided by the USCCB) are:

Archbishop Demetrios of America, Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in America and Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. In June 2003, the Archbishop led the delegation from the Ecumenical Patriarchate to the Vatican for the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul. He serves as Chairman of the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas.

Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America. Archbishop Barsamian is a member of the international dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches, and is Chairman of the Standing Conference of Oriental Orthodox Churches in the United States.

Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, legate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern) in Washington and ecumenical officer. He became President of the National Council of Churches USA January 1, 2008.

Rev. Dr. Donald McCoid, representing Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, is Director of the Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Relations Office of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

tjndc5-5bwqjs6v9gke8whsk07_layout.jpgBishop Jeremiah J. Park (that’s him), Bishop of the New York Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.

Rev. Dr. Wesley Granberg-Michaelson, General Secretary of the Reformed Church in America since 1994, and one of the five Presidents of Christian Churches Together in the USA, representing the historic Protestant family.

Rev. Dr. Clifton Kirkpatrick, Stated Clerk of the Presbyterian Church (USA) since 1996.

Rev. Dr. William J. Shaw, President of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc., since 1999. Dr. Shaw serves as one of the five Presidents of Christian Churches Together in the USA, representing the Racial/Ethnic family of churches.

Bishop James Leggett, General Superintendent of the International Pentecostal Holiness Church, a position he had held since 1997. Bishop Leggett is the Evangelical/Pentecostal President of Christian Churches Together in the USA.

Dr. Leith Anderson, President of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) and senior pastor of Wooddale Church in Eden Prairie, Minnesota since 1977.

Leaders from the New York area who will personally greet the pope include

tjndc5-5b4dn9wibkh19ismnb6_layout.jpgBishop David H. Benke, president of the Atlantic District of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. Rev. Benke was elected president of the Atlantic District in 1991, and has been re-elected five times, most recently in 2006. He is also the primary ecumenical leader for the Nehemiah Project which provides housing for the poor in New York City.

Rev. Dr. A. R. Bernard Sr., President of the Council of Churches of the City of New York and founder and Senior Pastor of The Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn, New York. He is also host of two weekly television programs, Faith in Practice with A. R. Bernard and The A. R. Bernard Show.

Elder Bernice A. King, the second daughter and youngest child of civil rights leaders Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King. With her brother Martin Luther King III, she has been active in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference once led by their father. She is currently an elder at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Georgia.

Rev. Jimmy Seong G. Lim, Executive Director of the Council of Churches of the City of New York. Rev. Lim has served the Council of Churches of the City of New York since 1999. Rev. Lim is an ordained minister in The Reformed Church in America.

tjndc5-5b5gdshjkhjkhqb5ezi_layout.jpgThe Right Rev. Mark S. Sisk, the 15th Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New York. Bishop Sisk was consecrated Bishop Coadjutor of the Diocese of New York in 1998. Prior to his election as coadjutor, Bishop Sisk served as President and Dean of Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois.

Gary Stern

Gary Stern covered education in the Lower Hudson Valley for several years during the early 1990s. Now's he back on the beat. He believes that schools are one of the main reasons that people live around here and that educational issues -- from curriculum to financing -- are among the most challenging things that journalists can write about. He continues to be amazed by the complexity of educational jargon. Gary got his B.A. at SUNY Buffalo and his M.A. from the University of Missouri Journalism School (where his master's thesis was about the best ways to cover education). He lives in White Plains with his wife and two sons, who attend public schools.