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On January 20, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Dorothy Higdon, of Cedar Rapids, received the 2014 Percy and Lileah Harris "Who Is My Neighbor?" award at a ceremony in St. Paul's United Methodist Church in Cedar Rapids.
The award is “In recognition of a lifelong faith commitment to living in harmony with others and to promoting equality and social justice in the community.” The “Who is My Neighbor?” theme is based on the story of the Good Samaritan. Dr. King used the story of the Good Samaritan in his final speech in Memphis in 1968, prior to being assassinated.
Dorothy Higdon was born on November 14, 1939, on a farm near Allerton Iowa. She graduated from Simpson College with a teaching degree in elementary education. Dorothy is married to the Reverend Dave Higdon, a retired United Methodist Minister. The couple has two children and serve in leadership roles in the Salem United Methodist Church as well as the Iowa United Methodist Annual Conference.
Higdon's history of service to the United Methodist Church in Iowa is substantial. She was an active member of United Methodist Women serving as a district and Conference officer. Currently she is a member of "Mission U" CORE team. She was elected as a member of the Iowa General Conference delegation in 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012.
Since retiring in 2001, Higdon has continued to be active in various Iowa Annual Conference missions and outreach programs. At Salem United Methodist Church she is a liturgist, leads adult Sunday school lectionary discussion and chairs the mission committee promoting support of a variety of missions, including the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR).
In 2004 Higdon was instrumental in establishing a branch office of the Justice for Our Neighbor program in Cedar Rapids. As local coordinator she serves on the Iowa JFON committee. Higdon participates in the “Immigrants Concerns” program, as well as the “Call to welcome the stranger” hospitality initiatives, promoted by the Prairie Woods organization of Cedar Rapids Iowa.
She was a board member of the Iowa Methodist Foundation for ten years, and as a member of the Conference Connectional Ministries Council. She served on the Iowa United Methodist Board of Church and Society for twelve years (1996-2008). She was a representative at the United Methodist Women, and for eight years served as chair of the board.
Higdon has been a part of Church Women United in Cedar Rapids serving on the Board and helping promote interfaith events they sponsor. For 2014 she has been elected the President of the Cedar Rapids/Marion Unit of CWU.
Beyond service in Iowa, the Higdons were part of the Volunteers in Missions to Nigeria. They have since been key promoters of the connection between the United Methodist Annual Conferences of Iowa and Nigeria, sometimes hosting Nigerian visitors in their home.
In December 2013 the United Methodist Women of Salem Church awarded Dorothy Higdon “Special Mission Recognition” for not only her passion for missions, but also her commitment and dedication for Mission programs in the United Methodist church.
In receiving the "Who is My Neighbor?" award, Higdon said it should be awarded to her great and and her mother, whom she said gave her a faith base that has been a guidance for her involvement in mission and justice.
After speaking about the programs in which she serves, Higdon concluded with the faith base that guides her, quoting scripture.
"Matthew 25 and the judgement description in the Poverty & Justice Bible speaks of people asking, "When did we fail to help you when you were hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in jail? The King will say to them; Whenever you failed to help any of my people, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you failed to do it for me," Higdon said.
"So my prayer," she continued, "Is "Lord help me see you in every face and hear you in every voice; Help me to see beyond myself; to see all the world and to respond to your grace in my life."