North Georgia's 2013 Denman Award winners announced
The Harry Denman Evangelism Awards, sponsored by The Foundation for Evangelism, have been given out since 1981. The award honors United Methodist clergy, lay person, and youth in each annual conference who exhibit unusual and outstanding efforts for the work on Christian evangelism.
The awards help to draw attention to evangelism at the local church level and honor those persons who, in their daily lives, are effective in helping others to experience the transforming love of God through Jesus Christ. The late Harry Denman, for whom the award is named, was himself a lay person whose passion was helping others to know Jesus.
The North Georgia Conference winners are recognized at Annual Conference each year. A person’s eligibility isn’t determined by the size of their church, their age or gender, or the length of their service What is important is the impact they’ve made, seen in the lives of people who’ve been changed by the life and ministry of the nominee. (Note: the youth award is limited to individuals who would be considered students - college age or younger.)
At the first of every year, the North Georgia Conference begins receiving nomination forms for clergy, laity and youth throughout the conference. The application deadline is usually the third or fourth Friday in March. Out of all the applications the conference receives, the Evangelism Sub-committee of the Worship Team then has the tough responsibility of selecting the three individuals that will be receive the conference award.
As in the years past, we received many nominations this year for some great witnesses for Christ. This year the conference recipients are:
Youth – Luke Reeve
Luke was born in Carrolton and has been a United Methodist all his life. His family eventually moved to Augusta, and they became active in Trinity on the Hill United Methodist Church. As a child, Luke was involved in Sunday school and children’s choirs, and was confirmed as a professing member of the church in May 2006.
Luke was also very active in the youth and music ministry, attending a number of choir tours and mission trips, both in the United States and abroad. In his senior year of high school, he was elected Chaplain of the Touring Choir ministry at the church. He currently attends Georgia Tech.
While on a mission trip in the ninth grade, Luke came face to face with God’s call on his life and made a complete surrender of his life to Christ. Since then, he has lived this out in a very humble way: not just talking the talk but walking the walk as well.
Over the past two summers, Luke really began to shine as a leader and a servant. Both those summers, Trinity on the Hill UMC’s youth traveled to Memphis to the Service over Self mission project (SOS). During these trips, Luke showed that he was very comfortable talking to people and was ready to share his faith with anyone willing to listen. Throughout those trips, Luke was constantly found talking with others about their faith.
Luke has a passion for those who are on the margins of society. The Rev. Danny Key, Minister of Music at Trinity on the Hill UMC, said, “Luke has a passion for the lost and broken like I have seen in very few young people his age. He not only is concerned about their physical needs but in the true Wesleyan spirit, he is also concerned about the state of their souls.” Relationships are most important to Luke and he never meets a stranger.
Luke is very interested in urban ministries as exemplified by his service in SOS mission project and his work in the community around Georgia Tech.
Laity – Lynn Bryant
Lynn Bryant was raised in the Baptist church, and in her testimony, she tells of hearing a call as a child to become a foreign missionary. Instead she married, worked at the University of Georgia, and raised two children. She was an active member of Gateway UMC (formerly Boggs Chapel) teaching an adult Sunday school class and organizing a prayer ministry in the church. After attending the Walk to Emmaus, she served on numerous Emmaus teams and Kairos Prison Ministry teams. Lynn also helped lead Experiencing God groups in a women’s prison, traveling four hours each week with a team from Gateway UMC to facilitate a two-hour group. She did this while continuing to search for God’s call in her life.
As an administrative associate at the University of Georgia, Lynn befriended a Japanese graduate student. That friendship led Lynn to seek opportunities to befriend other international students. Once again, she heard God’s call to share the Gospel with the world. This time she found “the world” was in her hometown of Athens, Georgia, where more than 2,400 international graduate and undergraduate students attend the University of Georgia each year. The majority of these students are from 10/40 Window nations (an area of the world that extends from 10 degrees to 40 degrees north of the equator, stretching from North Africa to Japan, that includes an estimated 97 percent of the world’s least evangelized countries.) After exploring existing Christian outreach to international students in Athens and seeing a great need for more, Lynn proposed to the Missions Committee at Athens First UMC the idea of starting an International Student Ministry (ISM). With some funding from the church and a seed grant, Lynn began ISM as a volunteer in 2002, serving 90 students with 15 volunteers. Under Lynn’s leadership, the ministry expanded. As the ministry grew her time commitment increased as well, so in 2004 Lynn became a part-time staff member directing ISM. In 2006, she invited the UGA Wesley Foundation to partner with the ministry. Currently the ministry reaches more than 500 international students from 40-plus nations with more than 200 volunteers, many serving as friendship partners to international students through ISM.
There are a countless number of students whose lives were touched by Christ while at UGA through involvement with ISM and by Lynn’s efforts. These students return to their home countries and spread the love they received here. (More than 90 percent of the students she engages are from 10/40 Window countries, with more than 85 percent coming from nations that are closed to the Gospel, or antagonistic toward it.) Some become Christians here and return home to share the gospel. Others are watered and fertilized here with love and service, and accept Christ after they return home. Others are simply amazed at how loved they are as an international student in America. American college students who have served with ISM have also gone on after graduation to start new international student ministries in other churches around the U.S. or to serve as missionaries overseas.
The Rev. Dr. John Page of Athens First UMC said, “Offer Them Christ is all Lynn does, with her life, her ministry, her time, and her love.”
Clergy – Richard A. Hunter
Richard is a native of Birmingham, Alabama and a lifelong United Methodist. He graduated from Candler School of Theology in 1983 and received a Doctor of Ministry degree from McCormick Theological Seminary in 1994. He was commissioned as a Probationary Elder in 1981 and was ordained an Elder in 1985.
Richard Hunter has seven churches in the North Georgia conference including Briarcliff (as an associate), Allen Memorial (in Oxford), Due West (in Marietta), Hillside, Snellville, and is currently appointed at Sugar Hill UMC. Under his leadership as a senior pastor, all of the churches he served experienced significant growth. For example, in his present appointment at Sugar Hill, during 2012, the church had 298 people make a first-time profession of faith.
While serving as senior pastor at Hillside, he led the church in developing the Birthing Congregations model in which new congregations are “birthed” out of an existing one. The church birthed two daughter churches under his leadership. His model for birthing daughter congregations is now being practiced across the country and he has written for numerous church publications about this model of new church development.
Richard leads workshops around the connection on evangelism, visioning, birthing new churches and staff development. He has mentored numerous pastors and seen 34 people enter full-time ministry during his tenure in this annual conference. He presently serves as chair of the Conference Board on New Church Development. He is known as a major advocate for starting new communities to reach new people for Jesus Christ and His church.
Richard teaches with the International Leadership Institute and has been on their faculty for schools in Estonia, Brazil and Kenya. He is on the adjunct faculty of Candler and Asbury Theological Seminaries. In every church he has led, he has offered classes and seminars to instruct the members in how to share their faith, to see themselves as evangelists for Jesus Christ and to take seriously the Great Commission as their own calling and not just for the professional clergy.
Each year every district also selects someone to receive the Harry Denman Award for the district. This year’s recipients include:
Athens Elberton District
John Miles, lay person at Madison FUMC
Atlanta College Park District
Cindy Corona, lay person at Collins Memorial UMC
Decatur Oxford District
Rev. Ronnie Brannen, clergy at Prospect UMC-Covington
Atlanta Emory District
Jeremy Lawson, clergy at Level Creek UMC
Atlanta Marietta District
Charles Gamel, lay person at McEachern Memorial UMC
Atlanta Roswell District
Donald Martin, clergy at Alpharetta FUMC
Greg Porterfield, clergy at Wesley UMC Evans
Jeff Ross, clergy at Dahlonega FUMC
Katie Lynch, youth at Midway UMC
John Hagen, clergy at Cokes’ Chapel UMC
Daryl Roberts, lay person at The Well UMC
Rome Carrollton District
Wayne Monroe, clergy at Bremen FUMC