The Rev. Erin Snell, St. Paul’s United Church of Christ Minister of Social Justice, was named as the 27th recipient of the Carroll County Human Relations Commission’s human relations award at its annual dinner on March 25 at The Forum at McDaniel College.
The master of ceremonies for the dinner was Virginia Harrison, the commission’s chair and a former member of the Carroll County Board of Education.
According to a March 17, 2002 article in the Baltimore Sun, Harrison, explained: “We try to pick people who have tried to promote human relations above and beyond what most people would do.” Characteristics which certainly seem to describe the life and work of Snell according to the many community leaders that attended the event.
Snell’s award and accomplishments give us a wonderful opportunity to be evangelical about spreading the word for inclusiveness, diversity and advocating for an open and affirming community.
“It is quite an honor to receive this award,” Snell said at the awards dinner. “It's very kind, though I don't feel deserving. I do not do anything extraordinary and it feels almost embarrassing to receive acknowledgment for doing what I strongly feel that I should be doing.
“From my perspective there is always more I can do and learn. In fact, there is so much, I find myself often not knowing how to start or where to put my efforts.
“I'm on a journey, contemplating my existence, trying to figure out which direction to go, knowing that even having a choice is a privilege. I'm still learning ...”
The long list of past award recipients reads like a who’s who in county leadership over the last several decades. Looking around the room, a number of the past recipients were present at the awards ceremony including former Carroll County Public Library Executive Director Lynn Wheeler; Bernard Jones, a retired engineering technologist with BAE Systems, past Union National Bank board member and past Carroll Community College Foundation president; community leaders Jean and John Lewis, and McDaniel College professor Mohamed Esa. Other past recipients included Gary Honeman, former director of Carroll Citizens for Racial Equality; and Walt Michael, executive director, Common Ground on the Hill.
“I'm surrounded by people who believe in the worth and dignity of every person. I look around this room and see your faces. I see you, I know some of the many efforts you've made to serve the community, to work to further social justice causes.”
Snell lives in Uniontown with her wife, Joy. She is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. Although she was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, she came to Carroll County as quickly as she could.
She received a degree in Physical Education & Exercise Science from Western Maryland College, a Master of Divinity from Lancaster Theological Seminary, and a Master of Science in Library Science from Clarion University of Pennsylvania. In her spare time she participated in a cross-cultural experience in Lesotho and South Africa and did a rotation in Clinical Pastoral Education at York Hospital.
From 2004-2006 Snell was with Trinity United Church of Christ, Gettysburg. She started to work for the Outreach Services of Carroll County Public Library in 2007.
The keynote speaker for the awards ceremonies was St. Paul’s United Church of Christ Senior Pastor Marty Kuchma, the 25th recipient of the Carroll County Human Relations Commission's human relations award.
In the “REerberations” section of the summer 2018 edition of St. Paul’s newsletter, “Highlights,” Kuchma wrote that Snell was appointed to the position of Minister of Social Justice “in recognition of her many years of ordained status and her fierce commitment to social justice, notably in her sustained participation in the leadership of PFLAG and Carroll Citizens for Racial Equality.”
Last October, St. Paul’s celebrated its 10th anniversary of declaring the church to be an “open and affirming” congregation. Kuchma observed in last summer’s newsletter, “We will be sure to mark this historic moment well, and be prepared for the work that still lies ahead.”
Snell appears to be a large part of addressing “the work that still lies ahead.”
According to Kuchma: “In her role as Minister of Social Justice, Erin will serve as a conduit for information and opportunities for the rest of us to constructively engage around pressing issues. Erin will also be a resource if people have ideas for new social justice activities and interests…”
A programming note: I have written more than 2,000 articles for the Baltimore Sun Media Group since 2004. I have not missed a single week of work since May 2005. However, beginning April 1, I will be taking a leave of absence from the Times until May 15.