By Jessica Brodie
GREENVILLE—Dozens of South Carolina United Methodist laity and clergy were honored for their Christian service and passion for discipleship during this year’s Annual Conference.
“You all have done such exceptional work throughout the year,” said Bishop Jonathan Holston at the conference’s annual awards breakfast before giving a prayer to recognize “those who have shown a way forward in being the people of God.”
“Let us also remember to help others see the path we have followed so
that they might follow as well,” Holston prayed.
The award winners were presented by the Rev. Jeffrey Salley during a special breakfast commemoration Tuesday morning. The winners are as follows:
Denman Evangelism Award
Established in 1980 by The Foundation for Evangelism, the Denman Award honors pastors and laypersons for responsible evangelism in the local church. In 1981, the national award was introduced to annual conferences to choose a clergy person a layperson and youth each year. The Denman Award honors people who are effective in making disciples of Jesus Christ.
Howard Thomes, a member of Main Street United Methodist Church in Greenwood, is the laity receipient of this year’s Denman Award. Thomes has participated in a host of ministries, including two women’s drug recovery homes in Greenwood, which serve about 70 women at any given time; Pathway Homeless Shelter for men in Greenwood (weekly devotional); the Good News Club, an in‐school and after‐school program that brings the good news of salvation to grade-school children; Bible reading to local neighbors in church; help with Celebrate Recovery, a 12‐step, Christian‐based addiction recovery program at Main Street UMC; Annual Conference delegate; and temporary associate pastor, assisting a newly appointed licensed pastor with a three‐point charge.
The Rev. Kathryn Scarborough, pastor of Bethel UMC in Pelion, is the clergy recipient of the Denman Award. Scarborough has participated in the South Carolina Board of Laity Task Force on Spiritual Formation (chair); Companions in Christ Bible Study, district trainer; spiritual growth coordinator, Orangeburg District United Methodist Women; Walk to Emmaus; South Carolina Five‐Day Academies for Spiritual Formation (leadership team); district and conference boards of congregational development; appointed lay supply pastor of Bethel UMC, 2005; licensed as a local pastor in 2010; scheduled in July to complete basic course of study, Candler School of Theology, Emory University.
Barbara Boultinghouse Bridge Builder Award
Windsor UMC, Columbia, the Rev. Stephen Gaither, pastor, is the recipient of this year’s Barbara Boultinghouse Bridge Builder Award. This award, named after a UMC deaconess, is given to a person or organization in the South Carolina Conference who has built bridges of understanding by promoting equity and inclusiveness without regard to race, gender, age, handicap or economic condition. The Commission on Religion and Race sponsors the award.
A predominantly white congregation with members of African, Asian and Hispanic descent, Windsor
has been active in reaching out to and ministering to a variety of cultures through several programs, including its “Skills for Life and Work” ministry, which is supported by the Richland 2 School District and
provides English as a Second Language and GED courses; an annual Unity Service each September that brings together four local congregations with diverse cultural and worship styles; the sharing of its facilities with a congregation of Filipino and European persons called the “Fil‐Am” congregation; various services for the local community; and the hosting of an Immigration Education Forum this February that more than 400 people attended.
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 receipient is Bobby Rutland, member of Greenbrier UMC, Winnsboro. After retirement, Rutland became involved in missions, witnessing to people in need in his local
community, across the United States and internationally. In 1991, he helped serve a meal to
the campers of the first Fairfield County Salkehatchie camp, and he has attended the Fairfield
camp every year since. Through United Methodist Volunteers In Mission, Rutland has traveled to Florida, the Gulf States and North Carolina to assist with hurricane and flood relief. He worked with the Red Bird Mission in Appalachian Kentucky and on Native American reservations in Montana. He has also has responded to God’s call to serve those in need through mission programs in Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic and Venezuela.
This year’s clergy recipient is the Rev. Michael C. Evans, pastor of the Ebenezer-Panola Charge, Greenwood. As the disaster response coordinator for the Greenwood District since June 2016, Evans has made dozens of trips across the conference, assisting with whatever needs presented themselves. He helped lead the group of volunteers who made a tremendous impact—through well‐planned and executed work blitzes—in the lives of those affected by recent flooding in Nichols and Sellers. He and other volunteers from the Greenwood District also “adopted” the home of one of the survivors of the Sellers flooding, building a bathroom in Greenwood and moving it across the state to Sellers, where they attached it to the home.
Bishop’s Five-Star Award
Eighteen 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 2017 recipients are as follows: Advent UMC, Simpsonville; Bethel UMC, St. Stephen; Bluffton UMC, Hilton Head; Chapin UMC, Chapin; Fair Lawn UMC, Columbia; Grove Hall UMC, Summerville; Mount Harmony UMC, Clover; Mount Zion UMC, Sumter; North Charleston UMC, North Charleston; St. Mark UMC, Sumter; Smyrna UMC, Bennettsville; St. John’s UMC, Rock Hill; St. Luke UMC, Walhalla; St. Matthew UMC, Taylors; Mount Prospect UMC, Lugoff; Travelers Rest UMC, Travelers Rest; Wesley UMC, Columbia; and Wesley UMC, Aiken.
Bishop’s Award of Excellence (Scouting)
Red Bank UMC, Lexington’s, Girl Scout Troop 2323, Cub Scout Pack 518 and Boy Scout Troop 518 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
Six local churches received the Commission on Archives and History’s Herbert Hucks Award this year: Simpsonville UMC, Simpsonville; Broad Street UMC, Clinton; Mountain View UMC, Taylors; Green Pond UMC, Gray Court; Livingston UMC, Livingston; and Pond Branch UMC, Gilbert.
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 John Eaves, a student at Winthrop University and member of the Winthrop Wesley Foundation, and Thomasena Thomas, a student at Florence‐Darlington Technical College from Salem UMC, Florence.
Brookland UMC, West Columbia, will host Jordan Blackwell, a student at Lander University and a member of Lander Wesley Fellowship.
Rural Mission Inc., Johns Island, will host Sarah Davis, a student at Spartanburg Methodist College from Woodland UMC, Rock Hill, and Desiree Hood, a student at Winthrop University and a member of the Winthrop Wesley Foundation.
Transitions will host Mackin Wall, student at the University of South Carolina from Washington Street UMC, Columbia.
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 Shirley P. Gordon. Gordon, a native of Kingstree, where her home church is Bethel UMC, 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.
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: Rachel Whaley Carter, a seminary student at Pfeiffer University and Wesley Theological Seminary in Charlotte; Emma McClain Mathis, a seminary student at Duke Divinity School of Theology; Cynthia Wolfe Muncie, a seminary student at United Theological Seminary in Ohio; and Nona Margaret Woodle, a seminary student at Boston University School of Theology in Massachusetts.
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 Frances Hillary Taylor, a seminary student at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology in Atlanta.
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 Haley Benfield, a lifelong member of Woodland UMC, Rock Hill, where she was a sacred dance leader and participated in multiple mission trips and programs to feed the hungry. She plans to attend Wofford College this fall.
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 Azavia Scott, a lifelong member of Mount Seal UMC, Hemingway, where he is a member of the United Methodist Men and an acolyte. He plans to attend Claflin University this fall in hopes of becoming a corporate lawyer.
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 Loren Mackenzie Summers, a freshman at Wofford College and a member of St. John’s UMC, Rock Hill, where she has been active in missions and ministry, including Salkehatchie Summer Service, youth group and the music ministry.
By Jessica Brodie