The 2021 Annual Conference session opened with an evening of worship and celebration, which included the presentation of the 2021 Denman Awards.
The Harry Denman Evangelism Award is presented each year to a member of the laity, clergy, and youth. The award honors United Methodists whose exceptional ministry of evangelism brings people into a life-transforming relationship with Jesus Christ.
Laity: The 2021 winner of the Laity Denman Award is Bobby Boggs, laity member of the First UMC in Shinnston (MonValley District), who raised more than $62,000 by holding a virtual Hot Wheels race as a fundraiser for the Celebration of Missions Event (C.O.M.E.)
Kristi Wilkerson, Conference Lay Leader, announced the award, indicating that Boggs’ plans were for fun, fellowship, and supporting others in the community.
Bobby’s Facebook group connected people from across the country to watch the races as WV District Superintendents competed to raise money for the Conference missions and ministries that support disaster relief, hunger, clothing, and children’s services.
People from as far away as Lake Tahoe, Oregon, Florida, and New Hampshire viewed the races online with those from Shinnston, West Virginia.
Clergy: Rev. Ellen File works as a Chaplain at Burlington UM Family Services in Beckley, where she leads worship, works with residents and youth, teaches, and engages the youth in spiritual activities.
In 2020, she baptized 15 resident youth at the Beckley Campus.
Burlington’s mission is to “prevent harm and provide hope and healing to hurting children and families.” Chip Bennett, incoming Southern District Superintendent, described Rev. File’s ministry and how her ministry exemplifies the spirit of the Denman recognition by sharing a life-changing relationship with Christ to troubled youth.
Pastor Ellen teaches youth life skills and helps them learn to adapt to their ever-changing environments. She said the kids don’t say “we’ve never done it this way” in 19 years. They love everything, and it is a wonderful place to be in ministry.
Youth: Alex Staub works in partnership with his pastor, Rev. Sharmune Burgess, to come up with creative new ways to reach youth in the area through various ministries and community events. Through his connections and friendships with other youth, he has been able to show God’s love and encourage others about serving by his own example.
Alex has used his expertise and experience to gather youth before and after the pandemic to engage kids in their churches. “Our next generation of the church is the youth and we just need to keep them in there.” Alex worships at New Cumberland UMC (Oak Grove/Ebenezer).
Bishop Sandra Steiner Ball commended the Denman Award winners for their work and encourages us all to continue efforts in evangelism. This has been an amazing year where God has called us to build bridges and make connections and partnerships in new ways.
We give thanks for all who build bridges and share the love of Christ with neighbors.
Follow this link to watch the Denman Award Celebration video.