Annual Conference awards lift up churches, UM individuals

By Jessica Brodie

FLORENCE—The ministry and evangelism efforts of laity and clergy across South Carolina were honored during Annual Conference at an annual awards breakfast.

“We are grateful for what you are doing,” Bishop Jonathan Holston said after presenting the awards to all the winners. “For one more year, think grander, bigger than you’ve ever dreamed before. … Think grander, bigger about going places where people have yet to hear God’s voice. If we do that, then we will make disciples for the transformation of God’s world.”

The award winners are as follows:

Joseph B. Bethea Distinguished Service Award

Rev. Kenneth L. Nelson is the 2016 recipient of the Joseph B. Bethea Distinguished Service Award, given to a person who has outstanding service in working for racial justice. Nelson was honored because, as his letter of nomination read, “He reminds us so much of Bishop Bethea in stature, vision, giftedness, experiences and heart.” He overcame adversity as a child to embrace “the more excellent way” of living for Christ. Nelson is the conference secretary and coordinator of clergy services. He has served as assistant dean of the chapel and director of religious life at Duke University; served as the South Carolina Conference’s African-American ministries coordinator; served in one of the conference’s first cross-racial appointments; has pastored large and small churches across South Carolina; and is a delegate to General and Jurisdictional conferences.

Barbara Boultinghouse Bridge Builders Award

The Barbara Boultinghouse Bridge Builder Award is presented to a person or organization who has built bridges of understanding by promoting equity and inclusiveness of all persons. This year’s award was given to two Camden pastors: the Rev. Angela Ford Nelson, pastor of Good Hope Wesley Chapel United Methodist Church, and The Rev. Steve Patterson, pastor of Lyttleton Street UMC. After the October floods, Nelson and Patterson worked together to build a bridge between their two congregations in, as their letter of application put it, “a town divided in many ways.”

The Michael C. Watson Volunteer in Mission Award

The Michael C. Watson Volunteer in Mission Award is given to clergy and laity who exemplify extraordinary mission service. This year’s clergy recipient is the Rev. George Olive, pastor of Joseph B. Bethea UMC, Myrtle Beach, who has been involved in South Carolina disaster response for 10 years and served as a past disaster response coordinator for the conference. After the October floods, Olive stepped up in the early response phase, served as a regional coordinator and in many other capacities.

This year’s lay recipient is Jim Salley, described as “Mr. United Methodist” in his letter of application. Salley serves on numerous boards throughout the connection and is vice chancellor and chief development officer for Africa University. His mission work spans the globe. “Jim’s true mission is people and restoring lives,” the letter of applications reads.

Bishop’s Five-Star Awards of Excellence

The Bishop’s Five-Star Award of Excellence is given to provide incentive to church to embrace new ministries geared toward growth and outreach. The following are 2016 recipients: Advent UMC, Simpsonville; Bethel UMC, St. Stephen; Chapin UMC, Chapin; Dickson Memorial UMC, Townville; Goose Creek UMC, Goose Creek; First UMC, Clover; Harmony UMC, Johnston; Lebanon UMC, Eastover; Little River UMC, Little River; Martha's Chapel UMC, Chappells; Mays Chapel UMC, Branchville; Mount Carmel UMC, Ninety Six; Reidville Road UMC, Moore; St. John's UMC, Rock Hill; St. Luke UMC, Hartsville; St. Luke UMC, Walhalla; St. Paul UMC, Camden; Trinity UMC, Greenwood; Union UMC, McBee; and Wesley UMC, Aiken.

Bishop’s Award of Excellence

The Bishop’s Award of Excellence recognizes congregations and units within the UMC that extend their ministry by participation in Girl Scouts of the USA and Boy Scouts of America. The South Carolina United Methodist Men and Bishop Holston recognize scouting as an important part of the church ministry because of who is involved: all God’s children. Two churches were recognized: Lexington UMC, Lexington (the Rev. Ken Owens, Scouting Coordinator James H. Gregory, Cub Scout Pack 507) and Red Bank UMC, Red Bank (the Rev. W. Russell Freeman Sr., Scouting Coordinator Robin O. Smith, Girl Scout Troop 2323, Cub Scout Pack 518, Boy Scout Troop 518).


Five students were awarded scholarships for their continued education.

The T. Dennie Smith Scholarship, created to effectively carry forward the legacy of the late T. Dennie Smith of Greer, was awarded to Carole Anne-Waters, seminary student at Lenoir-Rhyne, Columbia, pursuing a Master of Divinity. Her home church is Landrum UMC, Landrum.

The S.C. Conference Seminary Student Scholarship, established in 1991 to assist students from South Carolina in pursuing a program leading to a first professional degree, was awarded to Frances Hillary Taylor, who is affiliated with Shandon UMC, Shandon, and Lee Road UMC, Taylors. Taylor is a student at Candler School Theology.

The Advocate College Scholarship was established to help students at one of the four South Carolina United Methodist colleges majoring in business, communications or journalism. This year’s recipient is Ashly Higgins, a junior at Columbia College. Higgins is majoring in writing for print and digital media at Columbia College and holds two part-time jobs. When not devoting time to studying or homework, she conducts research and writes articles for The State and manages a team of marketers for Young Entrepreneurs Across America. She participates in Columbia College’s weekly chapel services and also attends Mount Horeb UMC, Lexington.

The Janie Robinson Thomasson Memorial Scholarship goes to the United Methodist student selected by the Scholarship Committee of the Conference Board of Higher Education and Campus Ministry. The South Carolina United Methodist Foundation, upon verification of current enrollment, distributes the award amount to the recipient’s institution. Preference for all applicants shall be given to members of St. Paul UMC, Clover, or the Rock Hill District. The recipient this year is Kenneth Chad Faulkner, member of Pleasant Hill UMC in the Rock Hill District.

The South Carolina Merit Scholarship is an Annual Conference award administered to United Methodist students attending United Methodist institutions. The Annual Conference Board of Higher Education and Campus Ministry disperses the Merit Scholarship Award in accord with these guidelines and others, which they may set. “Merit” can be in terms of academic scholarship, church involvement, financial need and special vocational preparation for ministry or other service, or a combination of these. This year’s recipient is Loren Mackenzie Summers, member of St. John’s UMC in the Rock Hill District.

Students in Mission awards

Students in Mission exposes young adults to the mission of the church; to encourage and develop vocational discernment of young adults; to assist the church in carrying out specialized ministries; to stimulate the church in developing new ministries; to extend the missional outreach of the church; and through young adults, to make the church aware of missional needs in South Carolina. It is an opportunity for young adults to serve as missionaries for the summer in authentic mission sites within South Carolina. It is a meaningful experience of intentional Christian living, faith in action and spiritual formation.

This year the sites focus on assisting migrant workers and their families, as well as developing new ministries to inner-city youth and needy families.

Rural Mission Inc. will host David Larrymore, student at Charleston Southern University; Joshua Simon, student at Claflin University; and LaToya Charley, student at Claflin University.

Aldersgate UMC, Charleston, will host Miyosha Foster, student at Lander University, and Sarah Davis, student at Spartanburg Methodist College.

Herbert Hucks Awards

The Herbert Hucks Awards for Historic Preservation and Interpretation go to four local congregations this year: Green Pond UMC, Gray Court; Livingston UMC, Livingston; Pisgah UMC, Aynor; and Mountain View UMC, Taylors.


The following churches were recognized as bicentennial churches, founded in 1816: Bethlehem UMC, Manning (Jordan), and Newman Swamp UMC, Lamar.

The following churches were recognized as centennial churches, founded in 1916: Simpsonville UMC, Simpsonville; Lane UMC, Lane (Greeleyville); St. Paul UMC, St. Matthews; North Charleston UMC, North Charleston; Salem UMC, Dorchester; and Brandon UMC, Greenville.

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