Churches, individuals honored with Annual Conference awards

By Jessica Brodie

GREENVILLE—Lifting up hearts and lives dedicated to Christian service, the South Carolina Annual Conference honored dozens of clergy and laity across the state during the conference’s annual awards breakfast June 5.

“I’m so happy to be a part of this event,” said Dominic Brown, chief meteorologist for WIS TV in Columbia, who served as emcee for the breakfast. “We’re here today to celebrate all God is doing through United Methodists like you and the local churches you represent.”

The award winners received an award and were photographed with Bishop Jonathan Holston.

“Thank you for your witness,” Holston told the room at the end, praying, “Lord, may all that we do be a witness for you.”

The winners are as follows:

Joseph Benjamin Bethea Distinguished Service Award

This annual award from the Religion and Race Committee of the Advocacy Area of Connectional Ministries is presented to a person who has performed outstanding service in working for racial justice.

The laity award was presented to the family of the late Donnis Kinder, member of Joseph B. Bethea United Methodist Church, Myrtle Beach.

“Donnis grew up in an era of segregation and prejudice,” said the Rev. George Olive, the retired pastor of Bethea UMC who nominated Kinder. “Sadly, the legacy of that time is still with us, but she never stopped trying in every way she knew how to achieve racial harmony in every place in which she had any influence. Bishop Bethea’s vision may not yet be fully realized, but not because Donnis Kinder did not try.”

Kinder had served as chairperson of the Church Council, Staff-Parish Relations Committee and Nurture Committee; co-chairperson of the 25th Anniversary Committee; and president of United Methodist Women. She spent 13 years as a teacher and coach and 23 years with the Myrtle Beach Parks and Recreation Department. She founded the Community Cultural Coalition in 1982, with a mission to enhance the educational, recreational and cultural lives of the community.

The clergy award was presented to Dr. Mike Smith, pastor of Trenholm Road UMC, Columbia.

“Of Native American descent, the Rev. Dr. Mike Smith has always felt called to proclaim the gospel truth that God is the father of all people, that all people are loved by the Savior, and, therefore, that color, language and ethnicity should not be a barrier to ministry, mission, cooperation or care,” said Jess Torres, a member of the Staff/Pastor-Parish Relations Committee at Trenholm Road UMC who nominated Smith.

Smith’s ministry has included founding the Society of St. Nicholas, which provides Christmas toys and gifts to children of migrant workers and other needy children; organizing an interdenominational and cross-racial effort to raise funds to build and supply water and electricity to a church in Africa through the Zimbabwe East Annual Conference; helping organize and lead a prayer rally at the South Carolina State House to pray against the evils of racism and for the changing of hearts and minds of those who find themselves unable to overcome their racism and prejudice; and more.

Harry Denman Evangelism Award

Established in 1980 by The Foundation for Evangelism, the Denman Award honors pastors and laypersons who are effective in making disciples of Jesus Christ.

This year’s laity recipient is L.W. Smith III. Smith is member of Rehoboth UMC, Columbia.

“For more than 30 years, L.W. has been a conscientious disciple for men who also leads by example,” said the Rev. Constance Barnes, pastor of Rehoboth, who nominated Smith. “He encourages members with words and deeds to live out their baptismal covenant. He has an inviting and welcoming presence.”

Smith’s participation in ministry has included being creator and coordinator of Rehoboth’s annual Drive-Through Drama, sharing the story of Easter with the community; founding member of the male youth mentoring group LET-US; serving as lay director, through which he became involved in Emmaus of the Midlands; and being actively involved at all levels of United Methodist Men. He received the Life Membership Award as a Fellow of the Society of John Wesley, in appreciation for his continuous support and devotion to prayer, youth and mission efforts of UMM.

This year’s youth recipient is Charena Myers. Myers is a member of Mechanicsville UMC, Dalzell.

“I have watched Charena become a force within this congregation,” said the Rev. Annie Sistrunk, the Mechanicsville UMC pastor who nominated Myers. “She has taken her role as a disciple seriously and has let it manifest within the other youth of the congregation. Her willingness to encourage other children to take an active role in our youth activities has been awesome.”

Myers’ participation in ministry has included being vice chairperson of the Mechanicsville youth ministries; usher/greeter; using her gift of singing within worship services; participating in Pink Diamonds, a ministry that lifts up young women by building their confidence and self-esteem; and more.

The Michael C. Watson Volunteer in Mission Award

Sponsored by the Board of Global Ministries, the Michael C. Watson Volunteer in Mission Award is given to clergy and laity who exemplify extraordinary mission service.

This year’s lay recipient is Willie Rowe. Rowe is a member of Bethel UMC, Greer.

“Mr. Rowe is known throughout his community and abroad as exceptional, remarkable, loving, nurturing and a compassionate person who will help anyone regardless of race or belief,” said the Rev. Deborah Patterson, pastor of Bethel UMC who nominated Rowe. “He has served as a volunteer for 40-plus years, and has been a pillar of our society.”

Rowe’s participation in ministry has included visiting at least 30 nursing homes and residential care homes every month; meeting every Sunday at the Greer Soup Kitchen to help prepare breakfast and to provide Bible study; providing a ride to and from church every Sunday for a disabled church member; providing breakfast to children who attend Sunday school, because many parents are unable to provide them with a meal; and more.

This year’s clergy recipient is the Rev. Fred Buchanan, pastor of Barnwell UMC.

“Fred is a wonderful, loving man of God who is a very positive and up-lifting person with a bright smile that lightens up every room,” said Billy Robinson, Early Response Team disaster coordinator for United Methodist Volunteers in Mission of South Carolina. “His big, caring heart leads him wholeheartedly into volunteering and serving others as God’s hands and feet.”

Buchanan’s participation in ministry has included being an ERT team leader and trainer; involvement in the conference’s disaster response to Hurricane Matthew; and leading his church and district to donate money and volunteer hours to help in many aspects of disaster response.

He designed and developed a new device that makes the process of removing fallen trees from a home or vehicle safer for those involved.

Bishop’s Five-Star Award

Fourteen churches received the Bishop’s Five Star Award, which goes to churches who embrace new ministries geared toward growth and outreach. The award enables small and large churches to receive recognition.

The 2018 recipients are as follows: Advent UMC, Simpsonville; Brown Swamp UMC, Conway; Chapin UMC, Chapin; Fair Lawn UMC, Columbia; First UMC, Clover; John Wesley UMC, Greenville; Mount Carmel UMC, Ninety Six; Mount Harmony UMC, Clover; Mount Zion UMC, Sumter; North Orangeburg UMC, Orangeburg; Reidville Road UMC, Moore; Smyrna UMC, Bennettsville; St. Matthew UMC, Taylors; and Trinity UMC, Greenwood.

Bishop’s Award of Excellence (Scouting)

Cub Scout Pack and Boy Scout Troop 518 and Girl Scout Troop 2323 at Red Bank UMC, Columbia District, and Cub Scout Pack 22 at Trinity UMC, Spartanburg, were the recipients of this year’s Bishop’s Award of Excellence, which 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.

Herbert Hucks Awards

Three local churches received the Commission on Archives and History’s Herbert Hucks Award this year: Mountain View UMC, Taylors; Livingston UMC, Livingston; and Tabernacle UMC, Lancaster. The award recognizes preservation and interpretation of Methodist history in the local church.

Students in Mission

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, Aldersgate UMC, North Charleston, will host Iris Gadsden, student at Erskine College from Wesley UMC, Columbia, and Natalie Hungate, student at the University of South Carolina and member of the Methodist Student Network.

Rural Mission Inc., Johns Island, will host Sonna Boothroyd, student at the University of South Carolina and member of the Methodist Student Network, and Abigail Smith, student at the University of South Carolina and a member of St. Matthew UMC, Greenville.

And Camp STEP, a ministry of St. Mark UMC, Sumter, will host Fashoda Bradley, student at Lander University from Forest Chapel UMC, Orangeburg, and Samoria Session, student at Francis Marion University and a member of the Francis Marion Wesley Foundation (Alive in Christ).


Several 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 three people: the Rev. Shirley P. Gordon, Mamie Lee Pierce Hannah and Alston Flynn Lippert.

Gordon is a native of Kingstree, where her home church is Bethel UMC. She has served as the pastor of Mount Carmel UMC, Ninety Six, and New St. Luke UMC, Travelers Rest. She is a graduate of Limestone College and is a seminary student at Asbury Theological Seminary in Florida.

Hannah is a native of Newark, New Jersey, and her home church is Bethel UMC, Marion. She has worked with South Carolina Law Enforcement as a victim’s advocate. Hannah has served in the church as worship leader, adult Sunday school teacher and outreach coordinator. She is a seminary student at Hood Theological Seminary in Salisbury, North Carolina.

Lippert is a native of Union and lives in Columbia, where she is a seminary student at Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary. Lippert has served as chairperson of the stewardship committee, chairperson of small group, member of the Staff-Parish Relations Committee, Sunday school teacher, children’s ministries volunteer and Salkehatchie volunteer.

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 four students: Carsten Aubrey Bryant, Zachary Dollard deMoya and Emma McClain Mathis, all seminary students at Duke Divinity School, and James Taylor, who serves at Clemson UMC under the leadership of the Rev. Keith Ray and has served as assistant youth director at Glenn Memorial UMC, youth minister at Clemson UMC, director of technology at Clemson University, and assistant campus minister for the Clemson Wesley Foundation.

The Bessie Bellamy Parker Memorial Scholarship, created by the conference to honor the memory of the Rev. Bessie Bellamy Parker, the first woman ordained in the former 1785 South Carolina Conference, provides assistance to female students at United Methodist seminaries or theological schools who are preparing for ordained pastoral ministry in South Carolina. This year’s recipient is Nona Margaret Woodle, a graduate of Winthrop University and a seminary student at Boston University School of Theology in Massachusetts.

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 Gracie Anne Pope, member of Woodland UMC, Rock Hill, where she is a member of the youth group. She participated in service projects, such as working at a local food bank and serving food to those on a community food assistance program. She graduated fifth in her class at Northwestern High School in Rock Hill.

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 Sarah Mohler, member of Trinity UMC, Newberry, where she is a member of the United Methodist Youth Fellowship and a regular volunteer at vacation Bible school. She plans to attend Wofford College this fall in hopes of becoming a doctor. Mohler graduated 11th in her class at Newberry High School.

Finally, 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 Andrew Whelchel, rising sophomore at Wofford College and member of Trinity UMC, Spartanburg. He has been active in Salkehatchie Summer Service, volunteering at a local soup kitchen, serving in worship as a liturgist, serving with the youth group and using his musical gifts to help with youth ministry. A business administration major, he is pursuing dual minors in history and philosophy.

Get Periodic Updates from the Advocate We never sell or share your information. You can unsubscribe from receiving our emails at any time.