One pastor spearheaded efforts to create a charter school in Niagara Falls.
Another has trained and equiped lay leadership for ministry throughout Western New York.
A third has forged relationships with political leaders to help address high-crime areas of Buffalo.
Nine area religious leaders who have each shown "labors of love" in their long careers were recently the recipients of the new Lion of Judah award created by a Niagara Falls church to honor dedication and leadership in all denominations.
"We wanted to look at honoring the spiritual leaders of all communities," said Apostle Kenneth Cobham of the Dominion Life Christian Center. "We felt that the community should pay homage to them."
Cobham and his wife, Pastor Sandra Cobham, hosted the Lion of Judah awards banquet in Grand Island late last month.
The name of the award comes from the Book of Revelation in the New Testament.
The award recipients are:
*Rev. Thomas F. Reid, senior pastor of The Tabernacle in Orchard Park, for more than 40 years of ministry that has included hosting the weekly telecast "Living Epistles" and helping to train lay leadership for ministry.
"Through his ministry, he has raised up many other successful churches in the area," Kenneth Cobham said. "He's known around the world internationally for working with smaller churches to help them grow."
*Pastors Michael and Joyce Badger of Bethesda World Harvest International Church in Buffalo, for their activist work in the Commodore Perry World Harvest Ministry in Buffalo.
*Pastor Richard Hague of Mount Erie Baptist Church in Niagara Falls, for helping to start a charter school in Niagara Falls.
*Pastors Ron and Kathy Friedersdorf of Victory Christian Center in Lockport, for their focus on family during more than 20 years of ministry.
*Pastor Darius G. Pridgen of True Bethel Baptist Church in Buffalo, for his community work with leaders in high-crime areas of the city.
*The Rev. Dr. M. Bruce McKay of Pilgrim-St. Luke's United Church of Christ in Buffalo, for his work to bring churches together as the founding president of VOICE Buffalo, a network of religious leaders affiliated with the Gamaliel Foundation. VOICE Buffalo is the counterpart of Niagara Organizing for Hope in Niagara County.
"He has brought churches together to look at injustices, housing, education, health care, children," Kenneth Cobham said.
*Bishop Euriah Colvin of the New Jerusalem Revival Center in Niagara Falls, for helping to develop programs for rehabilitation and troubled youth.
Dominion Life Christian Center leaders expect to honor other religious leaders and community members in future years.
"There are many others . . . but we felt that those who had served the community the longest should be honored first," Kenneth Cobham said. "Eventually we are going to continue to look at people who are in the churches who are doing outstanding work in the community."
Silas Johnson, the banquet's guest speaker and founder of the Full Counsel Christian Fellowship in North Little Rock, Ark., said each of the pastors represents the "labor of love" spirit.
"The whole essence of what we'll be talking about is what's involved in labor of love and the rewards for those who get involved in doing labors of love," Johnson said in a telephone interview prior to the banquet. "We'll talk about the benefits for those that get involved."