By Heather Mistretta

John Wesley didn’t wait until people came through the church doors before he nurtured disciples. Neither did Harry Denman. That’s why the GNJ Board of Discipleship honors evangelism each year with the Harry Denman Evangelism Award.

The Board of Discipleship recognizes clergy, congregations and youth for excellence with the Harry Denman Evangelism Award through the Foundation for Evangelism. For 40 years this award has honored United Methodists for their exceptional ministry of evangelism that brings people into a life-transforming relationship with Jesus Christ.

This recipient consistently introduces those they serve to the Good News of Jesus Christ. Their ministry is outstanding for the number of new Christ followers who credit encounters with this person as critical in helping to start or reignite their faith journey.

The award is named for a man who for many years was a friend to taxi drivers, missionaries, housewives, students, pastors, world leaders and the United Methodist Church. He was a noted lay evangelist and leader in the Methodist Church in the 1950s, believing that each person must live their call to make disciples of Jesus Christ through relationship, mission and preaching. Since the award’s inception, more than 2,500 individuals have been honored.

Throughout the years, there have been many notable recipients of this prestigious award—people who continue to serve and make disciples. John Doll is one of those people. The 2006 recipient, who leads Asbury UMC in Cinnaminson said, “It was very touching to receive the Harry Denman Evangelism Award. It was an honor to be recognized for being the pastor of a “turnaround church” – that is, being blessed and used by God to bring Asbury UMC from very low attendance to needing a building program to accommodate the growth.”

Thirteen years later, Pastor Doll remains tireless in his efforts to grow more vitality and sustainability in his church and inspire others to give and serve. Just last month, he announced that his church was able to pay off both the parsonage and church building mortgages in five and seven years, respectively!

Echoing his sentiment was Dr. Frank Fowler III, the pastor of Trinity Church who won the award in 1994. “This award is a deep honor, and it is important because we always need role models in ministry–people to whom we can aspire to follow because of their unique effectiveness.”

Fowler added, “Harry Denman was indeed effective as he humbly lived his life, consistently telling people about Jesus Christ. He once described Christianity as “give, give, give“ and that counsel is needed in our increasingly narcissistic culture. We need to continue lifting up people who are giving significant leadership in telling the world about Christ, as they become the current role models for evangelism. The Denman award is an important way of doing this.”

Information about the Board of Discipleship and the Harry Denman Evangelism Award can be found at

In addition to the Denman Award, the BOD also recognizes churches with its One Church Matters Award. This award, which includes $1,000 and a One Matters Discipleship Award plaque, is given to churches who have gone from zero professions of faith to a significant increase in a year as they renew their focus on discipleship.

One of the goals of the award is to encourage more annual baptisms and professions of faith that sometimes get forgotten.

The GNJ Board of Discipleship provides leadership and resources to bolster a congregation’s ability to make disciples of Jesus Christ. It is at the heart of a United Methodist’s spiritual growth.

This group of dedicated United Methodists provides spiritual food for every stage of the Christian journey.

Deb DeVos, associate pastor at Trinity UMC Hackettstown, became chair of the board this year after serving as a member on the board for the past five years. She said, “There’s a true purpose to this team, and I am committed to following it and showing people how we can help them.”

This article originally appeared on the GNJ UMC website. It has bee reposted with permission.