DALLAS (RNS) Campus Crusade for Christ President Bill Bright washonored Wednesday (March 7) with a first-ever Lifetime Ministry Awardfrom the National Association of Evangelicals.

The organization traditionally recognizes an evangelical leader forsignificant achievement with a "Layperson of the Year Award," but thisyear chose to recognize Bright for service over the course of hislifetime.

"Words cannot express the impact that ... Bill Bright has had on notjust the evangelical communities in America and around the world but onthe face of the church as a whole around the world," said Bishop KevinMannoia, president of the evangelical umbrella organization.

Bright, who is ill with pulmonary fibrosis, was unable to attend theceremony, held on the closing night of the NAE meeting. CrawfordLoritts, associate director of Campus Crusade's U.S. ministries,accepted the award on Bright's behalf.

Bright and his wife, Vonette, began the Orlando, Fla.-based ministry50 years ago. Since then it has expanded to include 68 specializedministries with targets ranging from executives and athletes to innercities.

The evangelical organization also honored Bishop George McKinney,pastor of St. Stephen's Church of God in Christ in San Diego, with itsRacial Reconciliation Award. McKinney's church has developed numerousurban ministries and cooperates with churches of other denominations andracial/ethnic makeups to help the needy.

"He tirelessly challenges others to rethink their definitions ofjustice and forgiveness," said Mannoia, bishop emeritus of the FreeMethodist Church of North America.

Leaders in the evangelical organization, whose meeting was attendedby about 500 people, plan to have a national summit on marriage inOctober and have begun a new effort to develop a public statement andother resources regarding the role of evangelicals in addressing publicpolicy issues.