Congratulations to the Recipients of Ministry Awards
There were dozens of reasons to celebrate at the awards dinner Monday night during conference, as pastors and districts received kudos for various aspects of ministry done well.
Vibrant, growing churches are actively engaged in successfully reaching out to others in their communities, welcoming new friends into their congregations and making a positive impact in the lives of those around them. This common theme was evident at the small membership church breakfast Monday morning and the awards banquet later that evening during Annual Conference 2017.
Bishop Scott Jones shared thoughts from the book, Resurrecting Excellence: “Too often the church has begun drifting. We’ve begun to accept mediocrity. We’ve begun to decide that how we’ve always done things is good enough…” “In fact that’s not good enough. Christ deserves our best efforts, our best talents, our most creative ideas and what we’re doing in this dinner tonight is honoring you all for finding some method of excellence in some part of your ministry. I’m grateful for all that you’re doing and the awards that are being offered to you tonight. I just want to say congratulations to all of you who are being honored tonight and I’m grateful for your pursuit of excellence in the cause of Christ.”
Hospitality Committee Chair Rev. Vickie Simons echoed the kudos, saying, “It’s a beautiful thing to be able to award excellence, and hard work, and compassionate hearts. It’s truly an honor to be associated with such great pastors and congregations and we appreciate our event being underwritten by Methodist Retirement Communities and sponsored by The Center for Congregational Excellence.”
The Methodist Retirement Community CEO Ron Jeannette presented the Methodist Retirement Center Impact Award to Christ UMC College Station Rev. Jerry House.
Each year, First UMC - Houston presents the Eric Anderson Award in honor of a slain pastor. Congratulations to this year's recipient, Rev. Emily Chapman, Sr. Pastor at St. Mark's UMC/Pecore in Houston.
The General Board of Discipleship’s One Matters Discipleship Award was given to Rev. David Goran of the Redeemer Campus – Pearland UMC. According to Superintendent Kip Gilts of the South District, “The driving concept behind the One Matters Award is the value of one profession of faith and the value of one baptism,” he explains. “There are many churches that for all sorts of reasons, have lost their effectiveness in reaching those who have no relationship with the grace-filled, life giving presence of Christ. Our church in Manvel had gotten there. Professions of faith and baptisms were both at zero for the last few years. Yet, the area was in a growth spurt with even more growth projected to come. The courage of the people of Manvel Grace UMC to vote themselves into legacy status and give their assets to the Texas Annual Conference for kingdom use, the vision of FUMC Pearland to embrace the opportunity to launch a second campus in this location, The Redeemer Campus, and the power of the Holy Spirit has resulted in phenomenal kingdom growth.” Results include hosting over 400 on Easter and averaging over 200 in worship since their launch in October 2016, as well as celebrating 12 baptisms and six professions of faith in that time. Adds Kip, “David Goran (the campus pastor at Redeemer), Keith Whitaker (the senior pastor of FUMC Pearland), the leadership team at the Redeemer Campus, the leaders of FUMC Pearland, and all those folks of Manvel Grace who looked beyond themselves to what God had in store for this mission field are to be commended for their faithfulness and commitment to the reality that One Matters.” In choosing the recipient of this award, Bishop Jones and members of the Cabinet look for places where there has been a turnaround from no baptisms and professions of faith --- to where they have become almost a regular occurrence. Shares Kip, “The Manvel Redeemer Campus of Pearland FUMC has certainly shown us what that looks like. And this story has only begun to be written.” Pastor David Goran believes the key to church growth is having an external focus. “Inspired by a vision to connect unconnected people to a greater life in Christ,” he shares, “our Redeemer and Pearland Methodist community have really come together to reach out to those unconnected people in our lives. We are praying that as this campus continues to grow we continue to look for those lost sheep in our lives that truly matter to God.”
The Small Membership Church of the Year award was given to Pattison UMC
Rev. Ben Lohmer. Ben shares, “A clear vision, widely and deeply disseminated is of the utmost importance to the success in Pattison, TX. Once we discovered that God has been calling this church to Pass the Baton of Faith to the Next Generation, we were able to take the right steps, in the right order, and with the blessing of resources from God’s people. The language of limitation was replaced with language of abundance, opportunity, and calling. Pattison UMC is set to go onward and upward in its vision and mission to the communities and people of South Waller County.”
The Copeland award winners, eight this year, were all determined by the number of professions of faith vs their average worship attendance in 2016. According to Rev. Vickie Simons, "The proof is in the pudding, so to speak, and fruit is in the professions of faith. Each church is a wonderful example of the pastor's leadership, the congregation's support and the movement of God's Holy Spirit! All award recipients are to be heartily commended because fruitfulness takes time, nurturance, and a partnership with the Divine!”
Under 100 Average Worship Attendance
Pine Grove UMC in Hemphill – Rev. Sarah Porter
Mt. Vernon UMC in Frankston - Rev. John Thomas
Reflecting back on this journey, Rev. Sarah Porter shares, “Our efforts were twofold. We began personally inviting more friends, neighbors, and family members through simple conversations and publicizing church events. Neither of which was time-consuming or expensive. Consistency and faith were key as we intentionally focused on those who were not attending church. We reached out to those located near our church (in walking distance) as well as those in towns outside our church. Though we are small and do not have some of the resources of larger churches, we don’t give up on church growth. We keep it simple, show love without conditions, and believe God will make it happen.” She adds, “It wasn't a particular ministry but rather a renewed vision to embrace our UMC slogan - "open hearts, open minds, open doors" that steered us in a new direction. We opened our hearts to people outside our cultural norm. We opened our minds to do things differently, by inviting new people to share new ideas, and we helped to implement those ideas. Our doors have always been opened, but by God's grace we witnessed people of different ethnicities and different ages walk in and sit with us and become one with us. To God be the glory!”
Average Worship Attendance 101-200
Covenant of Faith, Houston - Rev. Luthur Walker
Average Worship Attendance 201 – 300
CrossRoads UMC – Rev. Arturo Cadar
Average Worship Attendance 301 – 500
Dr. Paul Clines, Bay Harbour UMC – League City
Average Worship Attendance 501 – 1000
Rev. John R. Stephenson Faith UMC – Richmond
Average Worship Attendance 1001 – 2000
Revs. Rudy & Juanita Rasmus, St. John’s UMC – Houston
Average Worship Attendance Over 2000
Dr. John E. Stephens, Chapelwood UMC – Houston
Two of the nine TAC districts paid 100% of apportionments in 2016. Special kudos go to the East District and West District.