Landers receives Nick Elliott Award

By Allison Trussell

COLUMBIA—South Carolina United Methodist Volunteers in Mission awarded its 2023 Nick Elliott Award to Robin Landers during its Nov. 7 meeting at Grace United Methodist Church. Landers, a member of Union UMC, Irmo, and a leader of more than 10 international mission trips to Zimbabwe and Costa Rica, was surprised by the award.

“This means even more since I knew Nick and learned what I know about mission from him,” she said. “He emphasized that relationships are the most important aspects of mission work.”

She hopes she has walked in his footsteps.

The award is given annually to someone who demonstrates exceptional commitment to the goal of serving God through missions. Elliott was an elder in the South Carolina Conference and led the UMVIM-Southeastern Jurisdiction from 1999-2009.

“Robin’s leadership always creates teams that have a heart for service for others and a focus on being present and developing relationships with the people with whom the mission is in service through shared faith,” wrote Marjorie Rehlander in nominating Landers. Rehlander has been on teams led by Landers to Costa Rica and most recently Zimbabwe. The nomination letters all mentioned Landers’ love of the culture of the country she was serving. Every team she leads is taught a few words of the native language as well as customs of the people.

The Rev. Lloyd Nyarota, a member of the Zimbabwe Conference serving St. John’s United-Anglican Church in Alberta, Canada, has known Landers for about 20 years and praised her broad-scoped leadership: “(Her) teams have been involved in supporting orphanages, churches, schools, hospitals and villages. … Robin has also connected many South Carolinians to Africa University, where they have come into direct contact with their apportionment gifts.”

She was praised for her influence in the resurgence of international missions at Union UMC. It was also noted she reaches across the conference for team members and is a sower of seeds for new mission team leaders.

“This interest in developing me for future mission leadership meant the world to me,” said Chris Elvis, co-leader of the 2023 Zimbabwe team. “It allowed me to gain the confidence and assurance I needed to further my knowledge of what it takes to lead a team.”

Elvis and Allison Trussell, member of multiple teams, wrote in their nominations about the spiritual foundation of Landers’ leadership. Each team she leads has a team Scripture carried throughout the planning and mission. “Nightly team devotions and reflection time allow the team to reflect on work that was completed, the people touched and where God has been in the work,” Trussell wrote.

“Robin has taught me how to bring faith and wisdom to my actions and thoughts in unexpected moments through her mission work,” Rehlander wrote.

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