Bishop and Mrs. Holston honored with Africa University’s top award

AU leadership gathers for weekend of events in North Charleston

By Dan O’Mara

NORTH CHARLESTON—Bishop L. Jonathan Holston and his wife, Felecia Holston, have received Africa University’s highest honor: the Drum Award, presented to staunch supporters of and advocates for the United Methodist-related institution.

The Holstons have led numerous trips to the school, which is located in Zimbabwe and serves students from 31 African nations, where The United Methodist Church has been growing for decades.

“South Carolina United Methodists are deeply committed to Africa University, as evidenced by the history and close relationship we share together,” Bishop Holston said. “Felecia and I are grateful and humbled by receiving this honor.

“We will continue to encourage and celebrate all the ways that United Methodists across the South Carolina Annual Conference support such an outstanding institution that builds hope by preparing high quality leaders for our church and our world.”

James Salley, the school’s chief fundraiser, presented the awards during the launch event Feb. 23 for the Campaign for Africa University in the UMC’s Southeastern Jurisdiction, held Feb. 23 in North Charleston.

“Jonathan and Felecia Holston serve in a shared ministry with the United Methodists across the beautiful state of South Carolina,” said Salley, himself a native of the Palmetto State. “From the Upstate to the Lowcountry, the Holstons live their faith with a great vision to educate children, relieve suffering among the poor and help neighbors recover from natural disasters.

“As bishop and first lady, the Holstons have led many trips to Africa University and given generously to seed hope and expand opportunities for students across the continent.”

The launch event was held in conjunction with first-ever meetings of the school’s board of directors and its Advisory Development Committee in South Carolina, where United Methodists have a long history of supporting Africa University. The first major “launch” gift to Africa University was made in 1991 by Jonas and Odette Kennedy, farmers from Bennettsville. Subsequent gifts from churches and individuals paid for construction of the Bishop J. Lawrence McCleskey Theology Building—named for the former South Carolina bishop—and endowed scholarships that allow more than a dozen young women and men to access a life-changing educational experience each year.

Africa University also presented Drum Awards to Mac and Lisa Tichenor, founders of the philanthropic QuadW Foundation in Dallas, Texas; and Dr. Edward P. Wimberly, a retired United Methodist educator and author who has taught as a visiting professor at the school.

The AU leadership weekend included a variety of other events to showcase the university, including performances by the AU Choir, a Legacy Society dinner, a development committee meeting and a Sunday saturation event featuring AU speakers and preachers in churches throughout the Charleston and Walterboro districts. For more information:

Videos of the touring choir performances are available via YouTube:

Little River UMC:

Bounce Charleston TV broadcast: and

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