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Houston pastor to be honored as Humanitarian of the Year

John Wurster of St. Philip Presbyterian Church has a long history of ministry to Houston’s most vulnerable people

by Mike Ferguson | Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE — The Rev. Dr. John Wurster, pastor and head of staff of St. Philip Presbyterian Church in Houston, will be honored as Interfaith Ministries’ 2020 Humanitarian of the year during an online celebration called “For All Humanity” that’s being held beginning at 6 p.m. Central Time on Oct. 14.

“Rev. Wurster as been a committed Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston Board member, supporter and champion for the most vulnerable in our community,” said Martin B. Cominsky, president and CEO of Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston. “He is a truly deserving honoree.”

Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston brings people of diverse faith traditions together for dialogue, collaboration and service as a demonstration of members’ shared beliefs. Its programs include delivering more than two million Meals on Wheels each year to seniors in five counties and AniMeals, which provides donated pet food to seniors with pets. Other community outreach includes refugee services in conjunction with the U.S. State Department, a program that’s helped resettle hundreds of refugees in Houston; and Volunteer Houston, which connects volunteers in transformative projects with area nonprofits.

the Rev. Dr. John Wurster

The Oct. 14 online celebration will benefit Interfaith Ministries’ refugee services program and will feature a panel interview with successful Houstonians who emigrated from different countries. The event will also include musical performances by the Houston Symphony’s community-embedded musicians and a catered dinner delivered to patrons and their guests.

The event theme, “Finding Home a World Away,” ties in with Houstonia magazine’s March 2020 “The American Dream” issue highlighting some of Houston’s success stories and featuring local refugees and immigrants.

Interfaith Ministries points out that refugees have been granted that status by the United Nations and are fleeing their home countries due to war or persecution. They go through a comprehensive vetting process involving multiple federal agencies. Interfaith Ministries provides a variety of support services designed to empower Houston-area refugees to quickly and successfully acculturate to American life. More than 90% of the refugees that Interfaith Ministries serve are self-sufficient within six months of their arrival in the United States.

“These families are often traumatized by the experiences that led them to flee their countries, yet they are also very resilient,” said Ali Al Sudani, chief programs officer for Interfaith Ministries and a former refugee from Iraq who assisted American and British troops in his home country before having to flee.

St. Philip Presbyterian Church is the event presenting sponsor. To learn more about the Oct. 14 celebration, click here.

Tammy Warren of Presbyterian News Service contributed to this report.

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