Oklahoma bishop receives award for outstanding human rights achievement

By Nicole Baxley
Posted Dec 18, 2015

[Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma] The Rt. Rev. Edward J. Konieczny, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma, was recently recognized by the Oklahoma Universal Human Rights Alliance for his outstanding human rights achievement. The mission of the Oklahoma Universal Rights Alliance is to be, “…a guardian of liberty, working daily in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the constitution and laws of the United States guarantees everyone in this country.”

This ceremony honoring local community leaders was held on the floor of the Capitol Building House Chamber at the Oklahoma State Capitol on Dec. 10, the day recognized worldwide as Human Rights Day. On Dec. 10, 1948, the Human Rights Assembly of the United Nations formally adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). According to the Human Rights Resource Center, “This Declaration guarantees the rights of all people and encompasses a broad spectrum of economic, social, cultural, political and civil rights.” This day is celebrated annually with activities and celebrations that honor the mission of Human Rights Day.

Konieczny was honored and recognized for his dedication and service, striving to ensure that all people are honored equally as children of God, and are afforded the same respect, dignity and treatment. On this occasion, Konieczny was honored for his support of the Latino community, specifically Santa Maria Virgen Episcopal Church in Oklahoma City. With Konieczny’s support and encouragement, Santa Maria’s community outreach programs have thrived. Santa Maria offers after-school care, English as a Second Language courses, and even serves as a Red Cross Partner Shelter. During the 2015 tornados, Santa Maria sheltered, feed and supported nearly 70 people.

Through Konieczny’s leadership and commitment to this mission, numerous congregations in the Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma have developed or strengthened programs, ministries and institutions to serve their communities. Whether coordinating and operating after-school care, teaching classes in English as a Second Language, serving as a Red Cross Partner Shelter or Red Cross Resource Center, or preparing and serving meals for the homeless, congregations in the Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma are encouraged and expected to serve not just those in their congregations, but those in their wider communities.

After receiving his award, Konieczny spoke briefly on the importance of honoring the dignity of all people, ensuring that all are allowed the same rights, responsibilities and privileges as children of God. He highlighted a few of the programs in the Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma that strive to uphold these truths in their everyday ministry and mission in their communities. Concluding, Konieczny reiterated his commitment and dedication to this mission of equality, dignity and respect for all.

— Nicole Baxley is communications director for the Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma. Photos by Oklahoma State Capitol Legislative Photographer.