Annual Awards Recognize Outreach, Growth and Discipleship

Date Posted: 5/28/2015

Districts, individuals and churches of all sizes received special recognition at the Awards Dinner in celebration of increased membership and innovative leadership.
Church staff and lay leaders celebrated church vibrancy at the Annual Awards Dinner during the 2015 Conference. This year marked the introduction of the General Board of Discipleship’s new One Matters Discipleship Award which honors a church that is turning zeros, in the areas of baptisms and professions of faith, into positive numbers with a renewed focus on discipleship. The award is also accompanied by $1,000 to encourage further investments in discipleship. This year’s winner is Grace UMC, pastored by Rev. Philip Chamberlin. Sara Thomas, Deputy General Secretary of Discipleship Ministries and Chief Strategist for Vital Congregations says, “Making disciples is much more than statistics; it is about lives changed by God’s grace. We have an opportunity to help celebrate the fact that one life matters ... and continue to help congregations identify ways to invite people into a relationship with Jesus through the United Methodist Church.”

The Copeland Award recognizes churches in seven different attendance categories with the most professions of faith. This year’s Copeland winners include:

  • Under 100 average attendance: Rev. Ricky Georgetown, Brazoria UMC
  • 101-200 average attendance: Rev. Luther Walker, Covenant of Faith UMC
  • 201-300 average attendance: Rev. Carol Bruce, West University UMC
  • 301-500 average attendance: Rev. Matt Neely, Parkway UMC
  • 501-1000 average attendance: Rev. William Haygood, Good Shepherd UMC
  • 1001-2000 average attendance: Dr. Godfrey Hubert, Foundry UMC
  • Over 2000 average attendance: Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell, Windsor Village UMC
“It was exciting to inform these churches of their progress in church vibrancy,” adds Rev. Jack Womack, who chairs the Radical Hospitality Committee for the Texas Conference.
Additional awards included the Eric Anderson Award bestowed by Dr. Steve Wende, First UMC, on an up and coming pastor. This year’s winner is Rev. Preston Greenwaldt, Hardy Memorial UMC.
Rev. Richard (Dick) White of Quitman UMC, named Newgate Fellowship UMC, pastored by Rev. Marvin Hood, as the Small Membership Church of the Year. “This church with an average worship attendance of 18 has passionately served some 7,000 people through their aggressive and inspired outreach initiatives,” notes Rev. Dick White. According to Dick, Pastor Marvin brings extensive personal experience and concentrated study to the Restorative Justice community. Newgate UMC exemplifies the big impact even a small membership church can have. Outreach programs include mentoring, after-care fellowship for former inmates, Walk to Emmaus, Kairos ministries for incarcerated men and women, UMW, UMM, in-prison worship and jail visitation, and training for other churches seeking to make a difference in restorative justice.
The awards event also featured Dr. Elijah Stansel recognizing the East and West districts for a notable accomplishment: paying 100% of the entire district’s apportionments during 2014.