North Carolina UM Conference Announces 2022 Denman Awards

The NC Conference Discipleship and Evangelism Committee was pleased to announce the 2022 Denman Award recipients at Annual Conference. These three individuals–one clergy, one youth, and one laity–all model what it means to embrace evangelism: crossing barriers, sharing authentically, and welcoming others into community in Christian love.

We invite you to view the videos featuring each Denman Award recipient as we celebrate these wonderful ministries and our common mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the World.

Youth Recipient: Jacey Rylan Hilburn, Gardners UMC, Fayetteville, NC

Laity Recipient: D. Gayle Tabor, St. Paul’s UMC, Carolina Beach, NC

Clergy Recipient: Stephen Robert Dunn, Farmville UMC, Farmville, NC

The NC Conference Evangelism and Discipleship Team rejoices in the ministries of all those nominated in 2022 for the Harry Denman Evangelism Award and looks forward to receiving nominations for the 2023 awards in February-March next year.

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Long-Time Donor Reflects on Late Husband’s Shared Passion for Evangelism

Friends study the bible, talk at table
Friends study the bible, talk at table
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

When Nancy Acker’s late husband, Darrel, signed up for a Lay Witness Training trip to Pennsylvania years ago, she wasn’t interested. The training would take up time they would normally have spent vacationing, and she wasn’t sure that she wanted to commit. But God began working on her heart and eventually she filled out the registration and put it in the mailbox. “I couldn’t take it back after that,” she says.

As they arrived near the lay training’s location, they stopped at a restaurant for lunch. When asked where they wanted to sit, they noticed a large group that included people they recognized from previous gatherings. The waitstaff were curious how the group managed to all find each other without arranging it beforehand. Nancy and Darrel just laughed and said, “it must be a God-thing!”

Later in the week at that Lay Witness Training, Nancy and Darrel heard about The Foundation for Evangelism’s efforts to establish Professors of Evangelism at Wesleyan-tradition seminaries. They both knew people at the time attending seminary that were disappointed in the lack of theological teaching based on the model and teaching of Jesus Christ. They decided
at that training event that they wanted to support Wesleyan evangelism training for pastors and laity.

Although Darrel passed away in 2019, Nancy continues supporting the charities and organizations dear to their hearts. Darrel was a Lay Speaker in The United Methodist Church, and they attended trainings and gatherings for the organization. They also supported family and friends who were part of church plant ministries in the U.S. and other countries. They were
involved with a food pantry at the church they attend part-time in Florida and have logged volunteer hours with Habitat for Humanity. Nancy shared that she once helped shingle a roof, toting her pink hammer with her on the job, much to the surprise of other members of the work group.

Nancy appreciates The Foundation for Evangelism’s focus on Wesleyan tradition evangelism training for pastors and laity. She mused that John Wesley didn’t have an easy time but he kept going and was persistent in sharing the Gospel. The Foundation, too, must be persistent in the Wesleyan model of evangelism and discipleship, inviting all people into life-transforming relationship with Jesus Christ.

An Impact Story 12 Years in the Making

Jorge Acevedo received an award from the FFE in 2009 – and the relationship has only grown since then. In addition to leading his church, he is a ministry coach, trainer and writer, but the story doesn’t end there.

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Army Chaplain Credits E. Stanley Jones Professor with Shaping Her Understanding of Evangelism

photo courtesy Brittany Wooten
Dr. Joon Sik Park

By Terri Farmer
Brittany Wooten is a 2014 graduate of Methodist Theological School in Ohio. She remembers taking evangelism courses taught by E. Stanley Jones Professor of Evangelism, Dr. Joon Sik Park.

“A good portion of my understanding [of evangelism] came from those courses because I have always heard evangelism addressed through a very conservative, evangelical background…. He made evangelism, not something that was mandatory to be a Christian but, something that was joyously taught as a person. So, he humanized evangelism in a way that wasn’t … a moral mandate, and he changed it into a human joy.”

He humanized evangelism in a way that wasn’t … a moral mandate, and he changed it into a human joy.

Following seminary, Brittany served in a combat arms battalion. “Evangelism for me was being present with the soldiers and being able to share the hope of the Gospel with them through action and through words. More times through action than it ever was through words.”

Wooten serves as an active-duty Army chaplain in the Pacific Northwest.

Now she is serving as an active-duty Army chaplain in the Pacific Northwest. Brittany admits most of the four hundred soldiers she interacts with have a negative connotation with the word “evangelism.” But she says evangelism is essential to her everyday ministry. “I think evangelism didn’t demand action from [the soldiers] in the way of converting or becoming ‘better’ people.” Instead, she says, through seeing her live her passion and calling,
they are challenged to invest in something meaningful for their own lives.

Brittany credits Dr. Joon Sik Park with helping her and others overcome tired notions to understand that evangelism is a part of a vital faith and ministry that invites people on the journey of faith in Jesus Christ.

Bishop Darryl Starnes to Join FFE Board in the Fall

Bishop Darryl Starnes

Born in Hampton, VA, but nurtured in the First AME Zion Church in Knoxville, TN, where his grandfather was the organizing pastor, Darryl gave his life to Christ as a teenager and entered the ministry at age 17. He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in History from Livingstone College in Salisbury, NC, a Master of Divinity Degree from Hood Theological Seminary, in Salisbury, and a Doctor of Ministry Degree with a Concentration in Evangelism from Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, AL.

He has pastored eight churches in five states. In the last church, he was the organizing pastor. In 1996, he was elected the Director of the Bureau of Evangelism for The AME Zion Church, where he served for twelve years, until his election to the episcopacy in 2008. He has been an Adjunct Professor at Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham and at Hood Theological Seminary in Salisbury. He is the presiding bishop of the Piedmont Episcopal District, which includes the Blue Ridge, West Central North Carolina, Western North Carolina, and Jamaica Conferences. He is chairman of the denomination’s Church Growth and Development Board, the Worship and Ritual Board, and the Board of Trustees of Hood Theological Seminary. He is the Secretary of Evangelism for the North American Section of World Methodist Evangelism and the North American Officer on the World Methodist Council Steering Committee. His books include Not Ashamed of the Gospel; An Evangelism Training Manuel; 21st Century Christians Under Construction: A Discipleship
Training Manuel; and For the Perfecting of the Saint: A Handbook on Small-Group Discipleship.

He is married to Sis. Camille Cullom Starnes, a minister of the gospel and the Missionary Supervisor for the Piedmont Episcopal District. They have three children and seven grandchildren.

Local Church Grant Will Help Rebuild and Restore

Pastor Tim Jackson visits and prays with diners at Magnolia Avenue Church’s weekly meal. Photo: Mike DuBose UM News

By Barby Bowser

It was not long ago that Magnolia Avenue Church in Knoxville, Tenn., closed its doors. Rev. Rusty Taylor, director of Congregational Development and Revitalization for the Holston Conference of the UMC, struggled with whether to try and save this church with dwindling membership, a condemned building, in an economically challenged neighborhood. When COVID arrived, the building was shuttered and the few remaining members went elsewhere.

Photo credit: Mike DuBose, UM News

Thankfully, that’s not the end of this story. Rev. Taylor and others in the Holston Conference convinced Pastor Tim Jackson to take on the task of resurrecting the church about a year ago. “They were asking me to resurrect the Titanic from the bottom of the Atlantic with a hand-crank!” he jokingly said.

When Pastor Tim arrived, there was no church to speak of, but the surrounding community was desperate to hear God’s message of acceptance and hope. He knew he had to stay true to the mission of building disciples “by building relationships, pouring over them prayer, the Word and the sacraments. When you do that, radical things, transformation, is going to happen.”

Magnolia Avenue Church’s vision is to invest in and redeem the less fortunate in East Knoxville through providing daily meals, messages, and relational ministry to those living on the streets and on the margins of society.

He mentioned that Jay and Tammy, who live at the motel next door, weren’t connected to a local church when he knocked on their door one Sunday before the 5pm service (something he does every week). The two now attend three days a week. Jay always has a smile on his face – radiating the Joy of the Lord! Pastor Tim talks about others in the neighborhood – prostitutes, drug addicts, the lonely, the homeless – who have found a home at Magnolia Avenue Church. More than that, they’ve found a loving, forgiving God.

“The stories, they’re messy, but they’re beautiful stories. Everyone is welcome.”

At the weekly meal on Mondays, Pastor Tim shares a brief Bible Study and visits and prays with the 50-60 people who show up. His goal is to help people to really KNOW Jesus – to hear God’s word, study it, challenge them to apply it, and then share it. “We aren’t a ‘membership church.’ We are a covenant community”.

On a recent Sunday evening, Pastor Tim joyfully placed the Equipping the Local Church Grant check from The Foundation for Evangelism with gifts from two local donors in the offering plate, along with contributions from the service attendees. It’s rare that those attending the service can give much – and when they do, “it tends to be all that they have. They are truly ‘less fortunate’ because of the poverty that’s here.” He was excited by what God had provided.

“Thank you for being partners in this ministry,” Pastor Tim said at the close of our conversation. For the people serving and being served by Magnolia Avenue Church, the Equipping the Local Church Grant is a boost that will help them address the physical needs of the community while also introducing people to God’s love and inviting them to join the journey of faith in Jesus Christ.