Community United Church of Christ is pleased to recognize the recipients of the 2021 Carolyn and Cy King Peace and Justice Awards. This award was created to recognize those who inspire us to continue to do the work of peace and justice in our community and the world. Award recipients exemplify the spirits of the award’s namesakes, Carolyn and Cy King.
As you read the statement written to introduce each recipient at the April 25, 2021, worship service ceremony, be inspired and encouraged in your own work for peace and justice.
A few years ago at a sub-committee meeting of Congregations for Social Justice on criminal justice. David was the speaker. He told us how as Kentucky’s Commissioner of Corrections in 1975 he and Governor Julian Carroll successfully got a Constitutional Amendment adopted which eliminated cash bail bonding statewide. The cash bail bonding was lucrative to a group of people who threatened David and the Governor of Kentucky. David mentioned there was a contract put on him and the Governor. What David had accomplished in Kentucky I felt could and should be done in North Carolina.
Under the forum leadership of Shirley and Don Birt at our church, David spoke. He later spoke at our Do Justice ministry and offered to helo us in our work to reform the cash bail system in North Carolina.
Earlier David began his focus on judicial and correctional issues when his work on adult and juvenile prisoner learning approaches was used by publisher Harcourt Brace and Jovanovich to standardize competency tests nationwide. As president of Montgomery Technical Institute, he initiated one of the early on campus inmate vocational training programs in North Carolina.
On retiring back to his home state of North Carolina, David initiated an effort through the North Carolina Episcopal Diocese to reform and hopefully eliminate the cash bail bonding industry that in his words has shown itself to be one of the most unjust and racially discriminatory aspects of the Criminal Justice System.
The award certificate saids “To David Bland for leadership in social justice exemplified by his achievements in this ministry over the years and his consulting with CUCC on reforming the cash bail bond system and bringing his experience, wisdom and initiative to the creation of the cash bail bond reform video and project to correct injustices, inequity, unfairness and harm to our society.
(introduction of David Bland written by Adrienne Little)
Let me start by saying that Carson Roach-Howell is the first King awardee with lifetime membership at CUCC; he grew up in Cary and in this church. In 2016 he graduated from UNC Wilmington with a degree in Film Studies. While still in school, he and colleagues created and ran a videography business for the Wilmington area. In 2019, he joined Media Integrations where he is marketing strategist, produces video social media and advertising content, edits a podcast, writes blog posts, and creates and maintains websites for clients!
Knowing his background, in 2019, I asked Carson if he would produce a video for CUCC’s composting program (pro bono). He immediate said yes. Then last spring, I asked him to help with a video to communicate the injustices in the current bail bond system (again pro bono). Again, he quickly said, “Sure!” Carson took both projects very seriously, and both products are more than I hoped for. The bail bond video was a huge job with 8 actors, lighting, sound, multiple “takes” from different angles (his wish), splicing, editing, titling, and then posting the film. Both videos are highly successful in helping others understand these issues and their opportunities and in bringing national attention to CUCC and its Justice programs.
Cy King was famous for saying that showing up is 90% of justice work, and when he showed up he made the event better than it would otherwise have been. Following Cy’s example, Carson showed up for these film projects, graciously and fully, and thanks to him they are far better than we expected.
Carson, it is my privilege to present you with the 2021 Carolyn and Cy King Award. It reads: “To Carson Roach-Howell for his inspired and creative videography, editing and production of the cash bail bond reform video and composting video dramatizing, advocating for change, and showing the benefits addressed by “Do Justice” and “Justice in a Changing Climate” CUCC Ministry projects.”
(introduction of Carson Roach-Howell written by Gary Smith)
Gary K. Smith
I am pleased today to introduce our final King Award recipient—Dr. Gary K. Smith. Gary is well known in this church, but I would like to share some things with you that you many not know. Gary defines himself as a Chemist and a Christian. He could as easily call himself a Christian and a Chemist because the two values he prizes most—science and faith—are so closely integrated and intertwined in his personality and character that they are difficult if not impossible to separate.
Let’s start with the scientist. I once heard Gary say that when he was in the sixth grade he had heard a chemist make a presentation which struck a nerve that started young Gary on a lifetime adventure in science. That pursuit took him first to Penn State and eventually to Lehigh University where he earned a Ph.D. in chemistry and biochemistry. That in turn led to a more than three decade career in the chemical industry. His success can be measured in many ways, but I think among the most telling was the invitation he received to present a paper at an international conference at Oxford University. When I later asked him about it, he answered with characteristic humility and didn’t say very much.
As a Christian, Gary has become a significant leader at CUCC and elsewhere. When this church first showed interest in global warming, he proposed that we study the matter which led to the establishment of the Justice in a Changing Climate Task Force which he still leads. Over the years he has intermittently chaired the Do Justice Ministry; organized a group from this and other churches to clean out and prepare homes of poor people to make their buildings suitable for a public weatherization program; and along with his wife, Jane, studied the prospect for and implementation of solar roof panels on this building to reduce the church’s carbon emissions and energy costs. Gary also currently chairs the Energy Working Group of the North Carolina Interfaith Power and Light organization to guide other churches to do similar things. In addition, he and Jane cool and heat their home with a geothermal HVAC unit as well as possess a solar array which provides 80% of their electricity.
Gary’s other full time job is keeping up with Jane. Together they raised a daughter, Abigail, who is now a young professional working in the Northeast. Finally, Gary loves being outdoors—especially on his bicycle.
To say these things is to say that Dr. Gary K. Smith is a most worthy recipient of the Carolyn and Cy King Peace and Justice Award.
(introduction of Gary K. Smith written by John Little)