NRLA Celebrates 25 Years of Religious Liberty Advocacy
The Northwest Religious Liberty Association (NRLA) commemorated 25 years of public advocacy during its Anniversary Gala Awards Banquet held Aug. 16 at Empress Estates in Woodland, Wash. More than 150 individuals, including state and civic leaders, came to participate in the celebration.
Greg Hamilton, NRLA president, after sharing reflections on the progression of public affairs and religious liberty efforts throughout the nation and the Northwest, presented special recognition to several key individuals. Those honored are as follows:
- Richard Fenn, former NRLA president
- Lincoln Steed, Liberty magazine editor
- Alan Reinach, Esq., Church-State Council president
- Charles Steinberg, Esq., NRLA general vice president
- Jim Wibberding, former Idaho Senate chaplain
- Grant Ipsen, former Idaho State senator
- Michael Peabody, Esq., Bradford & Barthel, LLP
- Saba Ahmed, Esq., Republican Muslim Coalition president
- Steven Green, Esq., Willamette University professor of law
- Dave Hunt, Pacific Northwest Defense Coalition president
- Brad Avakian, Oregon State Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor and Industries
Hamilton paid special recognition to Hunt and Avakian in light of their unique roles as sponsors of the Oregon Workplace Religious Freedom Act initially signed in 2009 by Oregon Govenor Ted Kulongoski. Hunt was the Oregon State Speaker of the House during the passage of that legislation.
Max Torkelsen, North Pacific Union Conference president, thanked Hamilton for his service — for “17 years of mission-driven leadership throughout Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington on behalf of religious liberty, single-minded commitment to fostering civic and legislative partnerships for the cause of workplace religious freedom for people of faith, and tireless efforts at communicating the broad principles of religious freedom across this nation and around the world.”
Professor Timothy Golden of Walla Walla University, capped off the event with a stirring keynote message that called all present to remember that a promise is not a promise until it is fulfilled. The U.S. Constitution, he observed, acknowledges God-given rights, but it is up to each citizen to ensure those rights are honored in practical, tangible ways.
The evening event was a powerful reminder about the importance of a tireless commitment by the Adventist Church to efforts in public affairs, a commitment that builds key partnerships toward a common goal of religious freedom for people of all faiths.