2019 West Virginia Annual Conference Awards


The Harry Denman Evangelism Award

The 2019 Laity winners of the Harry Denman Evangelism Award are sisters Helen “Sammy” Martin and Joan “Johnny” Weatherholtz of Oak Grove United Methodist Church, Fisher, WV (Potomac Highlands District).

Martin and Weatherholtz saw an opportunity to start a feeding ministry in a small trailer park in their community. The ministry grew from feeding 70 people a month to building relationships weekly through Saturday lunches. Their church, which is used to around 40 weekly attendees, now sees 300 people each week through this act of ministry.

As volunteers serve lunch, they focus on building relationships by taking time to talk to people, asking if they have any prayer needs, and getting to know families. The program has extended into more missional activities in the church and has witnessed ever-growing fruit.

The Denman Award is named for Dr. Harry Denman, founder of the Foundation for Evangelism and renowned lay evangelist.

One Matters Discipleship Award

Tom Jeffrey (l) receives the One Matters Discipleship Award from Bishop Sandra Steiner Ball and Director of Discipleship, Leadership, and Congregational Vitality.

Our conference would like to lift up Pastor Tom Jeffrey and the congregation of West Hamlin UMC for the 2019 One Matters Discipleship Award.

As Pastor Tom approached retirement, he felt the Holy Spirit moving him to make disciples of Christ and he decided not to retire. His church took the opportunity to attend the Reaching New Disciples training offered by the conference. They took this information and went out into their community and found ways to do exactly that.

In response, the church went from zero professions of faith and baptisms in 2017 to seven professions of faith and 15 baptisms in 2018! Pastor Tom has truly displayed that every ‘one’ matters.

Jeff Campbell, Director of Annual Conference Relationships at United Methodist Discipleship Ministries states, “The One Matters Discipleship Award strives to lift up the importance of discipleship and help interpret across the connection what zeros in professions of faith and baptism mean and what moving away from the zeros means. Each ‘1’ in those categories represents a transformed life – a life that matters to God, and a life that should matter to us.”

Child Protection Recognition

April Forkey was recognized for serving as the conference’s Child Protection Coordinator for eight years. Forkey has faithfully traveled throughout the conference helping teach church leaders how to keep our churches safe and hospitable places for discipleship formation.

Rev. Dr. Bonnie MacDonald, Director of Leadership Formation and Ministry Staff,

states, “The work that April has done will pay dividends in discipleship for years to come. She has laid the groundwork for safety and discipleship.”

Ecumenical Award

The Ecumenical Award was presented to Erin Sears of the Southern District.

Erin entered into a two-year period of inter-religious and ecumenical movement training with the World Council of Bishops at the World Council of Churches headquarters with immersion at Taizé. She chose to take an inter-religious justice pilgrimage in Virginia to protest immigration injustice.

Erin successfully completed the two year United Methodist Ecumenical and Interreligious Training (UMEIT) program. She is part of the first cohort of its kind.

Erin will also serve as representative to the British Methodist conference this summer. One bishop and one lay representative are elected to go, and she will serve as the lay member. We pray for Erin as she continues to serve the West Virginia Annual Conference and receives training that will build up the Church.