Council of Churches honors Rev. McClure. A pastor who has spent the last 24 years building faith and community in Westerly's North End neighborhood will be honored for his work Thursday.
The Rev. Joshua A. McClure will receive a Life Achievement Award at the Rhode Island State Council of Churches' Heroes of Faith Awards Breakfast at Bryant University. The event will honor seven individuals who have "brought about positive changes that will affect all of Rhode Island," according to the group. This is the first year the awards breakfast will be held, but the council's executive minister, the Rev. Dr. Donald Anderson, said the organization plans to hold the event annually.
McClure said he had no idea he was even under consideration for the award before he learned he had won it. "Out of the blue I got a phone call saying I had been selected," said McClure. "I was shocked." According to the council, the Life Achievement Award is given to "an individual who throughout his or her life has continually and consistently served the community from a perspective of hope and faith." Harry Shelton, coordinator of the Wiley Center in Pawtucket, is the only other person receiving the lifetime award. There are a total of five other people being honored at the breakfast. Anderson said the Life Achievement Award is not designed to honor the specific deeds of either of its two recipients, but rather the entire body of their work.
"Both of these men, over the course of their careers, have made a difference in people's lives," Anderson said. The Rev. Jean Barry, executive director of the WARM Center in Westerly said the award "suits" McClure, whom she praised for his work with the poor. "He is a very compassionate man who cares about all people, but especially those in need," said Barry. "We talk about churches being missional, about reaching out beyond the walls of the church and making a difference," said Rev. Joyce Duerr of Westerly, pastor of the Tabernacle Baptist Church in Hope, who also serves as secretary for the state council of churches. "Josh has done that. He rubs elbows with the people on the streets and in the community. You can see that with the important work he's done in the north end and the work he's done servicing children. He has truly lived out the focus of the council by serving the community from a perspective of hope and faith."
McClure, who has been pastor of the Pleasant Street Baptist Church in Westerly since 1986, has written two books about church renewal - "Can These Bones Live?" in 2006, and "Almost Persuaded, Now to Believe" in 2008. He helped found the North End Crime Watch and has been instrumental in the revitalization of that historic Westerly neighborhood. Despite his impressive resume, McClure remains modest when talking about the award. "I'm just very surprised," he said. "And honored, of course."
The Westerly Sun, Ian Holliday Sun Staff Writer