Conference awards honor South Carolina UMCs, individuals

FLORENCE—The South Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church honored the efforts of a host of laity and clergy across the state during its annual awards breakfast.

“You are being the hands and feet of our lord and savior Jesus Christ,” Bishop Jonathan Holston said, congratulating the winners. “That's what it means to be a leader. That's what it means to be a follower.”

Here are the award winners:

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 range from work with children and youth to construction-based work:

Camp Providence Anderson will host Murphy Belton, student at Clark-Atlanta University from Shiloh UMC, Lugoff; Hanna Morehead, recent graduate of the College of Charleston and member of the Charleston Wesley Foundation; Tripp Edwards, student at Coastal Carolina University from Christ UMC, Myrtle Beach; and Vanessa Ballard, student at the Citadel and member of the Charleston Wesley Foundation.

Rural Mission Inc. will host Christina Paradis, student at Lee University from Lee Road UMC, Taylors; Connor Jewett, student at the Citadel and member of the Charleston Wesley Foundation; and Joseph Kovas, student at Presbyterian College from Bethel UMC, Chester.

Joseph B. Bethea Distinguished Service Award

Rev. Hayes T. Gainey Jr. is the 2015 recipient of the Joseph B. Bethea Distinguished Service Award, given to a person who has outstanding service in working for racial justice. Gainey was honored because his commitment to Social Gospel is taken beyond the walls of the individual church into the Church Universal, our homes and our schools. His spirit of liberation is demonstrated in part by the more than 25 years of consecutive service he has given as an officer of the South Carolina Caucus of Black Methodists for Church Renewal. He continues to work diligently in love to train churches on how to deal with the issues of racism and oppression.

Denman Award

The Denman Evangelism Award is given by the Foundation for Evangelism to a person or persons effective in making disciples of Jesus Christ.

The clergy recipient is the Rev. Michael Turner. Commissioned in 2000 and ordained in 2003, Turner has served a wide variety of appointments in South Carolina. With concentrated focus on Jesus’ Great Commission, Turner has led congregations to significant numeric and spiritual growth. In 2014, Turner led Advent UMC in a Christmas Miracle Mission that encouraged members to shift one-half of gift expenditures on “self” to those in need. The congregation responded with $260,000. Through partnerships in the Upstate, this offering will be multiplied like loaves and fishes into 10-15 homes for homeless families.

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 Rev. Phillip H. Reynolds, who made a huge impact on his Boiling Springs congregation by placing much emphasis on inclusiveness. He felt it was especially important to use children in all aspects of the worship services. For the first time in most of their lives a variety of people were communion stewards. He recruited men to be part of worship and as part of some fairly unique outreach missions. Hearts & Hands at Palmetto Richland’s Children’s Hospital was just one. He leads by example and clearly understands the importance of including all persons regardless of age, handicap, gender, etc.

The Michael C. Watson Volunteer in Mission Award

Michael C. Watson Volunteer in Mission Awards

Dr. Webb Belangia V is this year’s clergy recipient of the Michael C. Watson Volunteer in Mission Award, given to those who exemplify extraordinary mission service. After being appointed to Aldersgate UMC, Sumter, he jumped right in to action volunteering with the Shaw/Dalzell Salkehatchie Camp. He spends time in the local elementary school reading books to students. He also was instrumental in setting up the backpack program, which feeds local elementary kids over the weekends. This ensures 37 children have food over the weekend. He is an active volunteer with the Sumter Area Mission Project that is focused on making homes dry, safe and secure for people of the lower income over Sumter County. He also worked many hours at Sumter Christian Charities fixing heater and lighting and security problems.

The laity recipient of the award is Danny Thompson, a member of Zion UMC where he serves on the Mission Team. Since a 1999 mission trip to Mexico with the Anderson District VIM, Thompson has been on mission trips to South America, Central America, the Caribbean, Haiti and Cuba. Thompson was on the first ERT Methodist team from South Carolina that responded to Hurricane Katrina. Over the five years he returned 14 times to assist in the rebuilding construction. As Anderson District Response Coordinator, he is frequently called by different organizations to assist after flooding or home fires.


Four 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 two people. Meegian Alicia Gossard, student at Candler School of Theology, Emory University, Atlanta, who plans to become an ordained elder in the UMC, and James Allen Vaught, a student at Lutheran Southern Theological Seminary and serving as a local pastor in Allendale.

The S.C. Conference Seminary Student Scholarship was established in 1991 to assist students from South Carolina in pursuing a program leading to a first professional degree. This year’s scholarship was presented to Sean Michael Kilpatrick, a member of Hibben UMC, Mount Pleasant. Kilpatrick is a seminary student at Emory University and the pastor of Chapel Hill UMC, Rome, Ga.

The Advocate College Scholarship was established to help students at one of the four S.C. Methodist colleges majoring in business, communications or journalism. This year’s recipient is Jordan Geddis, a freshman at Claflin University, as the newspaper's college scholarship recipient. Geddis is majoring in mass communications at Claflin. In his spare time, he coaches a youth basketball team at the YMCA. He is a member of Wesley United Methodist Church, Johns Island, where he was a member of the Sunbeam choir and still assists the sound and media technician in recording church services. He was active in Upward Bound and a host of community and church service projects.

Bishop’s Award of Excellence

The Bishop’s Award of Excellence recognizes congregations and units within the United Methodist Church that extend their ministry by participation in Girl Scouts of the USA and Boy Scouts of America. The S.C. UMM and Bishop Holston recognize scouting as an important part of the church ministry because of who is involved.

The following churches were recognized: Charleston District, Stallsville UMC, Cub Scout Pack 750 and Boy Scout Troop 750; Columbia District, Asbury Memorial UMC, Cub Scout Pack 397; Columbia District, Red Bank UMC, Girl Scout Troop 2323, Cub Scout Pack 518 and Boy Scout Troop 518; and GREENWOOD District, GRACE UMC, Girl Scout Troop 5775, Cub Scout Pack 7 and Boy Scout Troop 7,

Herbert Hucks Awards

The Herbert Hucks Awards for Historic Preservation and Interpretation go to six local congregations this year: Pisgah UMC, Aynor; Mountain View UMC, Taylors; Broad Street UMC, Clinton; Emmanuel UMC, Sumter; Green Pond UMC, Gray Court; John Wesley UMC, Charleston; and Nazareth UMC, Leesville.


The following churches were recognized as centennial churches, founded in 1915: Johnsonville UMC, Johnsonville, Florence District; Bethlehem UMC, Pamplico, Florence District; Pamplico UMC, Pamplico, Florence District; and Franklin UMC, Denmark, Orangeburg District.

The following churches were recognized as bicentennial churches, founded in 1815: Zion UMC, Pageland, Hartsville District; Shiloh UMC, Marion, Marion District; Mount Zion UMC, St. Matthews, Orangeburg District; Limestone UMC, North, Orangeburg District, Sardis UMC, Union, Spartanburg District; and Swallow Savannah UMC, Allendale, Walterboro District.

Janie Robinson Thomasson Memorial Scholarship Fund Recipients 2015

Beginning with the 1996-97 academic years a scholarship was awarded from the Janie Robinson Thomason Memorial Fund 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 shall distribute the award amount to the recipient’s institution. Awards shall be made to the students as a part of the cost being undertaken by the student or his/her parents. Applicants must be a member and regular attendee of a United Methodist Church for at least one year. Preference for all applicants shall be given to members of St. Paul United Methodist Church, Clover, South Carolina or Rock Hill District. Students at a two year institution are eligible to apply with evidence in writing of transferring to a four-year institution to complete a four year-undergraduate degree.

Recipients this year are Samuel Patrick Murphy and William Loren Gallien.

The South Carolina Conference Merit Scholarship 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 shall disperse the Merit Scholarship Award in accord with these guidelines and others, which they may set. Awards are “Merit,” but it would be understood that merit can be in terms of academic scholarship, church involvement, financial need, and special vocational preparation for ministry or other service, a combination of these. This year’s recipient is Mary Burgess Harrelson.

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 2015 recipients: Advent UMC, Greenville District; Bethel UMC, Charleston District; Bethel UMC, Columbia District; Chapin UMC, Columbia District; Christ UMC, Marion District; First UMC, Clover, Rock Hill District; Little River UMC, Marion District; Mays Chapel UMC, Orangeburg District; Mauldin UMC, Greenville District; Mount Carmel UMC, Greenwood District; Mount Zion UMC, Hartsville District; New Life UMC, Walterboro District; St. Matthew UMC, Greenville District; Trinity UMC, Conway, Marion District; Trinity UMC, Fountain Inn, Greenville District; Trinity UMC, Greenwood, Greenwood District; and Fair Lawn UMC, Columbia District.

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