Now in its second season, The “E-Word” web series returns with three new speakers. The series is developed with the local church in mind and features three E. Stanley Jones Professors of Evangelism – experts in evangelism in the Wesleyan-tradition and each practical theologians with pastoral experience.
Following the same three topics as the 2019 season, the speakers will bring their own perspective and expertise to help church leaders delve deeper into what it means to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ with the spirit of John and Charles Wesley.
Session 1: Angel Santiago-Vendrell on “Why Jesus”
Session 2: Rev. Dr. Henry “Hal” Knight III on “Evangelism and Discipleship Systems”
Session 3: Rev. Dr. David Whitworth on “Contextual Awareness”
For 22 years now, Leadership Institute at The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection has drawn ministry leaders and pastors from around the nation, and even globally. This year was no different, however the event LOOKED very different. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the conference was held virtually. Despite having to move online, the conference drew over 3,000 participants, a record in its 22 year history.
The Foundation for Evangelism was a sponsor at this year’s event, and provided a grant for a breakout session presented by Denman Fellow, Rev. Dr. Alma Tinoco Ruiz. The breakout session titled “Being Present: Evangelism and Social Trauma” urged attendees to provide a Spirit-led and compassionate presence during this time of communal trauma, drawing on the sermons of Saint Oscar Romero who served as Archbishop of San Salvador (1977-1980) and ministered to the marginalized and oppressed people of El Salvador.
Rev. Dr. Ruiz is the Lecturer in Homiletics and Evangelism, and Director of the Hispanic House of Studies at Duke Divinity School. Her presentation was developed with collaboration from Rev. Dr. Laceye Warner (the Royce and Jane Reynolds Associate Professor of the Practice of Evangelism and Methodist Studies and Associate Dean for Wesleyan Engagement at Duke Divinity School), who served as the E. Stanley Jones Professor of Evangelism at Duke Divinity from 2001-2015.
Over 692 people have viewed the session so far, and participants had this to say:
Amen! Thank you Pastor Alma. That was very helpful. I like how you have lifted people like Wesley in England and Romero in El Salvador.
Thank you! This was very helpful, and inspired me to seek a way to make “safe space” for lament in my context.
The Foundation, through grants like Rev. Dr. Ruiz’s breakout session at Leadership Institute 2020, can be a Catalyst to equip disciples to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.
For those who registered for Leadership Institute 2020, these sessions and all others are available online through the L.I. Whova app for a full year. If you were not able to register, you can still access the recordings on-demand by registering at https://li.cor.org/.
In most typical years, The Foundation for Evangelism would have received announcements of the Harry Denman Evangelism Award Presentations at annual conferences months ago. Yet, because of the current pandemic and restrictions on gatherings, many annual conferences had to be creative in how they made the award presentations. Most conference staff or chairs of evangelism that contacted us shared that their annual conference was delayed until the fall or that they would going “all virtual” with their conference. This was certainly not a small undertaking, and so we are grateful that they chose to keep this annual award part of their conference celebration!
As part of lifting up these special people, we want to highlight two award recipients whose work, no doubt, has been a beacon of hope and transformation in their community, pointing people to the hope found in Jesus Christ. More inspirational stories on award recipients can be found on the Denman Evangelism Awards page.
Marie Ferree – West Ohio Annual Conference
Marie is the director of the St. Paul’s Food Pantry, a ministry of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Defiance, Ohio. Her exceptional ministry brings hope to those she serves and leads them into transforming relationship with Jesus Christ. She has walked with countless people as they have started or reignited their faith journeys, and she sees each client as a child of God. Rev. John T. Schlicher, Marie’s pastor says, “Marie has made a genuine bridge to the community with many people moving forward in their faith journeys, ultimately being baptized and joining [the church].” Seeing potential where others saw none, Marie has employed and mentored clients who were out of work and needed help getting their lives back on track. She has a genuine interest in the clients she serves, showing compassion, interest, acceptance and attention to needs. Having been a client of the food pantry herself before coming to work there, she knows, perhaps better than anyone, what her clients are going through. One client shared, “Marie gave me a job in the kitchen…it’s because of Marie that I come to worship every Sunday and attend the Tuesday Bible Study. I’m keeping my faith alive.”
Billie Jean Baker
Many nights, Billie Jean slept on an outside balcony at Oak Lawn United Methodist Church in Dallas, Texas. As an unsheltered person, she helped open the eyes of the church to meeting a need that was literally on their doorstep. Through her relationship with church members and leadership, she helped the church to expand its welcome to other unsheltered individuals. Billie Jean was recently able to find housing, but it is 7 miles from Oak Lawn UMC. The distance, combined with the pandemic has limited her ability to be at the church for worship, but on Sunday and Tuesday evenings, she brings her Bluetooth speaker outside her apartment and invites neighbors to listen with her to livestreamed worship services. Billie Jean’s pastor, Rev. Rachel Baughman, says she has led other homeless people to worship at Oak Lawn United Methodist and participate fully in the life of the church. “I’m grateful for the witness of Billie Jean, not just in paving the way for us to open shelter, but also for building connections and relationships with so many people who found themselves in very similar circumstances to hers.”
Billie Jeans says she has just one calling, “to help the homeless folks hear the Word of God…. I stand up for those that can’t stand up for theirselves ’cause I have a loud voice and pink hair and people are gonna pay attention to me!”