Grant Supports Laity in Innovative Evangelistic Ministry

Participants at an ALA cohort in 2022

Fresh Expressions of Worship may be familiar to you. It’s a form of church for our changing culture, primarily for those who are not yet part of any church. Usually tied to an existing church, they are held in places relevant to the lives of the people who are a part of them. Places like coffee shops, community centers, breweries, and, yes, even tattoo parlors.

But how do you prepare leaders for this innovative type of ministry? The Foundation for Evangelism saw potential in the Fresh Expressions House of Study at United Theological Seminary as it was developing in 2020. With various levels of training, the Foundation provided a multi-year grant for the certificate level track that encourages laity and pastors to learn and serve alongside one another.

Pam Levesque

Pam Levesque was there at the beginning to help develop the certificate track called “Adventurer’s Leadership Academy” (ALA). She was a lay member of the team that explored Fresh Expressions (FX) throughout the Florida United Methodist Conference to learn successes and failures. The 2022-23 Cohort is the fourth iteration of the ALA that she has worked with, and she says there is a wealth of knowledge and opportunity for participants to learn from each other. She loves working alongside the participants who are “fun, wild, crazy people throwing spaghetti against the wall to see if it sticks.” She also sees incredible strength of the laity:

“It’s important for pastors to know… they need strong laity support. Adventurers Leadership Academy helps to put the focus on Jesus and discipling, but discipling in a different way. In Fresh Expressions, we think ‘where would Jesus be discipling?’”

Pam Levesque
Jessica Taylor

Jessica Taylor was one of the laity participants in the ALA in 2021-22, “My husband and I both attended ALA and it was so profoundly impactful for us.” Jessica and her husband are FX church planters in the Florida Conference. She has since joined the Fresh Expressions Florida staff, and is serving on the ALA team.

Grant Supports Ministry with Youth in Estonia

‘So That the World May Know Jesus’ Fox Global Evangelism Grant

Rev. Robert Tserenkov

I wanted to share a little about the progress on the Foundation for Evangelism grant from [the H. Eddie & Mary Nell Fox Endowment]. We are so blessed to have the grant for development of youth leaders and youth ministry in Estonia. We have had several important events already: we had a youth leaders gathering (25 young people attended) in the Fall and some of our youth leaders are participating in a great youth leaders online course in one theological institution in Estonia. We are glad that this year there are two more congregations that started youth ministry. These are churches in Haapsalu and Kuressaare. In the summer we had a wonderful camp for junior high kids and this camp is growing. In a few days we will be having a winter camp with about 50 young people. Our Estonian youth leader Ele Paju is doing a great job developing new leaders and helping youth ministry along in local congregations. This grant is helping us to do all that.

Thank you so much…

This grant is a great blessing for the next generation of Methodists in Estonia!

Please keep us in your prayers!

Rev. Robert Tserenkov
District Superintendent
The Methodist Church in Estonia

2022 Local Church Grants Inspire Community Outreach

By Barby Bowser

The Foundation for Evangelism held its inaugural Equipping the Local Church Grant cycle in January 2022. Grants were awarded in June to 31 small-medium churches or groups of small congregations working together. Many congregations, like the two that follow, used the grant for community outreach and evangelism.

Grace AME Zion Church in Raleigh, N.C.

Grace AME Zion – Glow Up Youth Mentoring Program and Community Outreach Event

Crystal Cannon, director of Christian education for Grace AME Zion Church in Raleigh, N.C., says the church began the Glow Up Mentoring Program with the desire to help youth in their community. After getting input from those who joined the program, they found that the youth wanted to have ownership in developing the program. Because of that initial
“investment” in building relationships, there has been more trust and openness between mentors and youth. They also hosted an event with service providers from the community.

During that time they received feedback that what they were doing filled a need with a faith component that no one else in the area was providing. Through the “Community Glow Up event,” more youth joined the mentoring program, and new ties to people in the community were formed. Throughout the process, the congregation has been informed and church members have felt ownership in the program.

Trinity UMC in Warner Robins, Ga. received a 2022 Equipping the Local Church Grant. They celebrated “Friends-giving” with people in their community.

Trinity United Methodist Church – New Neighborhood Ministry Opportunities

The Equipping the Local Church Grant allowed Trinity UMC to reach out to their community. In September, they celebrated “Get in the Game Sunday,” with a high energy worship service and message that included the coach of a celebrated local high school football team.

Around Thanksgiving, they opened their doors for “Friendsgiving,” another worship service celebrating friendships, especially the relationship
we are all invited to have with Jesus. Following the service they shared a meal. They also hosted “Christmas on the Lawn,” inviting their community
to celebratory worship and relationship building opportunities. “These special worship celebrations have provided a connectional opportunity for all ages,” shared Angela Gilbert, Director of Connection.

Ministers’ Forum Experience Affirms Foundation’s Essential Work

It was my first time attending a Minister’s Forum hosted by Southern Nazarene University’s Toler Institute. At the 2022 gathering, I greeted folks visiting the Foundation’s booth who were interested in who we are and what we do. We were in the midst of our first Equipping the Local Church grant cycle, and several of our grant recipients were in attendance at the event.

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Harry Denman Evangelism Awards – Nominations Open

Jim and Kathy Konsor show their Harry Denman Evangelism Awards
Rev. David Guajardo (center), pastor at Vida de Abundancia in Laverne, receives the 2022 Oklahoma Annual Conference Harry Denman Evangelism Award.
Rev. David Guajardo (center), pastor at Vida de Abundancia in Laverne, OK, receives the 2022 Oklahoma Annual Conference Harry Denman Evangelism Award.

Nominations for the Harry Denman Evangelism Awards are now underway. The award, given annually by The Foundation for Evangelism and United Methodist Annual Conferences, honors lay, clergy and youth whose exceptional ministry of evangelism – expressed in Word (what), Sign (why), and Deed (how) – brings people into a life-transforming relationship with Jesus Christ. Begun over 40 years ago, the Harry Denman Evangelism Awards have been awarded to over 3,000 individuals in at least 50 current or former United Methodist Annual Conferences.

The awards are named for Harry Denman, noted lay evangelist and Christian leader, who believed that each person must live their call to make disciples of Jesus Christ through relationship, mission, and faith-sharing. He once said,

“Today…the only way we can see Christ is to see him wrapped in a person… We need to become a package of love, a package of faith, a package of Christ.”

Harry Denman

Nomination forms for the 2023 Harry Denman Evangelism Awards are available on The Foundation for Evangelism website or by contacting your Annual Conference. Nomination forms should be submitted to your annual conference, or the annual conference of the individual being nominated.

What distinguishes a Harry Denman Evangelism Award recipient is the commitment to consistently introduce others to the Good News of Jesus Christ in all ministry settings. Their ministry is exceptional for the number of new Christ Followers who credit encounters with this person as critical in helping to start or reignite their faith journey.

We look forward to honoring these disciples so changed by their relationship with Jesus that they are compelled to share it with others!

2022 Grant Recipient, Madras Church, Launches with Weekly Worship

Photo credit: North Georgia Conference of The United Methodist Church

Madras Church received a 2022 Equipping the Local Church Grant to help implement projects aimed at inclusively and fully welcoming everyone in their community to be part of the Body of Christ.

On Sunday, January 22, Madras United Methodist Church launched in the South West District of the North Georgia Conference. This new church start now begins weekly worship.

“Sunday was probably one of the most incredible experiences of my life,” said lead pastor Rev. Fede Apecena. “For the team and I to launch and say ‘hey, we are here and we are seeing the fruits of our presence in this area; all the hard work and the wait was worth it’ is fantastic!”

The launch was two years in the making!

In the congregation Sunday were not only the launch team and regular attenders of the growing faith community, but also first-time visitors from the community, and Bishop Robin Dease along with District Superintendent Susan Landry.

“To be able to have our Superintendent Susan Landry and our new bishop, Bishop Dease, with us was the most encouraging statement we could have had when it comes to the support from the conference,” said Apecena. ​”For them to be able to join us and celebrate affirms us, uplifts us, and reminds us that they believe in what God is doing and will continue doing in this community.”

The name Madras is appropriate for several reasons. The colorful, plaid pattern is a good visual representation of the vision of the multi-cultural welcoming church, but Madras is also a familiar name in the community with nearby Madras Parkway and Madras Middle School.

The church, located at 2331 US-29 in Newnan, will worship every Sunday at 10:45 am in the sanctuary. Additionally, on the last Sunday of every month, Madras will meet as a church to serve at one or more locations in Newnan and surrounding areas. All are welcome to worship and serve!

This story was originally posted at on 1/25/2023.

From the Board Chair on the Foundation’s 74th Anniversary

As I step into my first year as The Foundation for Evangelism’s board chair and reflect on the last three years I have served on the board, I am reminded that we are building on the foundation laid by those who came before. Seventy-four years ago today, the Foundation was born, charged with “diffus[ing] the blessing of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.” That’s quite a weighty task.

Raising Up Gospel Leaders

From the Foundation’s early days, under the umbrella of the Methodist Church, our board had a vision for emphasizing the ministry of evangelism. This vision led to funding professors of evangelism, E. Stanley Jones Professors, at 13 Methodist-related seminaries in the United States, Russia, Germany, and Zimbabwe. Nearly thirty-five years and many discussions with Wesleyan-tradition leaders later, we recognize that not all those called to pastor or lead a church take a traditional seminary path. So, we are enlisting instructors that are “bridge-builders” whose expertise helps translate and contextualize theological ideas with the goal of inspiring the practice of Wesleyan expressions of evangelism. In addition, Innovation Grants encourage out-of-the-box ideas and practices for equipping evangelistic leaders to minister in an ever-changing landscape. For instance, a 2022 grant involved collaboration with leaders in the Brazilian Methodist Church movement that drew more than 800 leaders to a virtual evangelism-equipping event.

Engaging the Ministry of the Laity

Our founder, Dr. Harry Denman, was a layperson, called to the ministry of evangelism like so many of the Foundation’s leaders that followed. The laity have a vital role to play in inviting people to the Christian journey. We celebrate the Foundation’s past grants such as Discover God’s Call Laity retreats, Campus Ministry Grants, and the on-going Denman Evangelism Awards in United Methodist Conferences that lift-up the evangelistic ministries of the laity. This spring, the Foundation will gather a group of evangelistic laity from seven Wesleyan-tradition denominations across the U.S. Their challenges, dreams, and needs will inform how we develop future grants to further engage the ministry of the laity in the Wesleyan tradition.

Equipping the Local Church

The Foundation for Evangelism recognizes that Christian disciple-making most-often happens in the local church. That is where many receive the invitation to life-transforming relationship with Jesus Christ, grow in grace, and live out their faith by loving and serving God and neighbor. My father, Dr. H. Eddie Fox, pastored local churches for the first 18 years of his ministry before becoming a full-time world evangelist. The local church is where I learned about Jesus, where I accepted Him as my Lord and Savior, and where I find my faith community today.   

Yet, the global pandemic led to a loss of community in many small and medium-sized churches. They are slowly rebuilding those connections vital to life-transformation in Jesus Christ. That is why I am excited for the Foundation to partner with these churches in its second annual 2023 Equipping the Local Church Grants cycle. The first round of these grants given in 2022 are already equipping the local church to share the Good News and invite their neighbors on the Christian journey! We invite you to hear about their impact!

Next year, in 2024, The Foundation for Evangelism will celebrate its 75th anniversary. We are already planning a big celebration, and we can’t wait to share the plans with you. While so much has changed since 1949, the priorities that were part of our mission then are still at the heart of what we do today: 

Promote, encourage, and provide resources for Wesleyan evangelism, inviting all people into a life-transforming relationship with Jesus Christ.

mission Statement

As we build relationships across the spectrum of Wesleyan-tradition denominations, our vision is to be a catalyst to equip disciples to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. 

Happy 74th Anniversary to The Foundation for Evangelism – and MANY MORE!

Gaye Nell Heck

Chair of the Board of Trustees

12 Ideas to fill your Christmas (and the strange week after) with more Wonder

Photo by Blue Ox Studio @

by Rev. Adam Weber

This article was re-posted from an email – subscribe at

The older you get, the easier it is for Christmas to feel boring and mundane. Or even worse, it’s easy for Christmas to feel like a chore, something to survive. This doesn’t have to be the case though! With that in mind…

Here are 12 ideas on how you can put some wonder back into your Christmas (and the strange week after):

Note: This isn’t a checklist. Just some ideas. We often build things like Christmas up in our minds and think everything has to be perfect. Let go of your expectations! Not every moment is gonna be Instagram-able. It can’t be! And that’s okay.

1. Look for a way to brighten someone’s day.

Pool some money together as a family or friend group. $20 total. $100. More. Discuss (and pray!) about things you could do or needs you know of. Think of an organization you can bless. Or maybe someone around you who is going through a hard situation, is lonely, or just needs some encouragement. Then go for it!

2. Share highs and lows.

With a friend over coffee or with your family during a meal. Have each person share a “high” and a “low” from the last couple of weeks. You might be surprised by what your family shares. You might even surprise yourself! We need more places to share celebrations and the low moments we walk through.

3. Go on a drive to look at Christmas lights.

Make hot chocolate, put on some Christmas music, and start driving. Important note: If 10 minutes in it’s not fun anymore (and the kids are screaming bloody murder!), you can be done. Drive around and encourage the car to share fun things you see along the way!

4. Read the Christmas story together.

Every year, one of my favorite moments is when Bec and I read the Christmas story (Luke 2:1-20) with our kids. Seeing my kids connect with God. Thinking about what it was like for Mary and Joseph, the shepherds, and the wise men—there’s really nothing like it. Important note: Don’t make this boring or feel like a chore! Make it fun. Protip: If you have kids, use the Kids Bible App to watch the story. Or watch the Bible Project video.

5. Bake some cookies.

With a friend, your spouse, or your kids. Get a recipe (here’s my Grandma Dahle’s chocolate chip cookie recipe), the ingredients, and jump in. Have kids? Don’t be like me and get uptight about making a mess or the recipe not being exactly right. Let the kids lead the way. One step further? After making the cookies, take some to a neighbor who might not have many visitors or to a friend!

6. Take a walk.

I walk year round (even here in the freezer we call South Dakota). Walking is great for your body and also your mental health. Get some fresh air. Take in the stars at night. Walking is good for the soul, too. As I walk, I almost always end up talking with God. Telling Him what I’m worried or dreaming about. Advice: If you know how to worry, you know how to pray. Just start telling your worries to God and not just to yourself.

7. Serve somewhere. 

At your church. The Salvation Army. A food pantry. Anywhere you see a need. Note: This is a great way to bring joy, impact your city, and love people any time of year. If you’re struggling with worry, being anxious, or feeling miserable, one of the best remedies I’ve found is to serve, to take the focus off myself and put it on others.

8. Let your kids decide. 

Give them a budget and have them plan an outing. If your kids are anything like mine, they’ll be surprised that you asked! “Dad really?!” And you’ll be surprised by their creativity. (Hopefully they don’t burn the house down in the process!) Your job? Be fully present and follow their lead!

9. If you have a fireplace, use it!

Away from Jesus, one of the greatest sources of peace in my life is my fireplace. I’m not joking! In the winter, I sit by it every single day. Fun fact: As I type this, I’m sitting in front of my fireplace. Whether it’s a gas or wood fireplace, there’s something about a fire that is good for the soul. At the Weber house, we have a wood fireplace. Gathering the wood from outside, getting it started—it’s almost meditative.

10. Watch a Christmas movie together.

Good popcorn is required! It doesn’t matter which Christmas movie (although I’d vote for Christmas Vacation!). Sure, you may have all of Home Alone or Elf memorized by now, but there’s something so fun and magical about Christmas movies. Plus, if you have kids or a spouse who hasn’t seen your favorite movie, it’s a great chance to share something you love.

11. Light a candle.

In the midst of the bright, shiny Christmas celebrations, the hard things you’re carrying often get lost in the shuffle. Whether you’ve lost a loved one this year, or years ago, take a moment to acknowledge to yourself and to God that you are still grieving. Feel whatever feelings you’ve been carrying around. Let the light of the candle remind you of Jesus’ hope in the darkest of times.

12. Attend a Candlelight Service.

If you grew up in church, you’ve probably attended one. The pastor stands up at the end of the service, you sing “Silent Night.” Everyone holds their candles high, while you do your best to keep your kids from starting the person next to them on fire. It might seem cringy, but the moment the whole church is lit only by the flames of candles and everyone sings the final “Christ our Savior is born” is so powerful. Let the holiness of the moment fill you with wonder this Christmas. 

Wherever this Christmas finds you, I hope these ideas fill you with wonder and a deeper sense of God’s love for you.

Adam Weber is a pastor, author, and host of The Conversation podcast where he interviews guests about life, leadership, and loving others well. A native South Dakotan, he is the founder of and Lead Pastor at Embrace. He is the author of Talking With God and Love Has A Name. Adam received the Distinguished Evangelist Award from The Foundation for Evangelism in 2016. He and his wife, Becky, have four kids: Hudson, Wilson, Grayson, and Anderson. You can follow Adam on social media @adamweber.

Equipping the Local Church Grant Cycle Opens January 15

The Foundation for Evangelism is pleased to announce it will open the 2023 Equipping the Local Church grant cycle on January 15. A total of $350,000 is available for grants of $5,000 or $10,000 to small and medium* church congregations, or clusters of churches working together, in a Wesleyan-tradition denomination.

During the 2022 Equipping the Local Church Grant Cycle, 31 grants were awarded totaling $230,000. The projects included a wide range of evangelistic disciple-building in the local church context including:

  • Establishing a children’s and youth summer leadership program based on Wesleyan-tradition Christian values that invites and nurtures children and families in the faith.
  • A Sunday-night supper open to anyone in the community that invites conversation around a particular scripture.
  • An online church designed for those struggling with addiction or family members and friends of addicts.
  • A weekly respite night for foster parents that provides a safe and nurturing place for children and a connection to a faith community for their caregivers.

The grant is intended to help launch an experiment or initiative to share the Gospel, faith stories, and invite others into a relationship with Jesus.

Any church or group of churches fitting the criteria may apply. A total of 30 small church and 20 medium* church grants will be awarded in the summer of 2023.

To help clarify the grant criteria and application process, an information session will be held on January 26, 2023 from 3-5 p.m. Eastern. You can register for the session at

Applications open January 15 and will close February 28, 2023.

The Foundation for Evangelism Equipping the Local Church grant initiative seeks to empower pastors and laity in smaller local congregations to dream, take risks, and partner with God in the transformation of lives and communities. These grants are made possible through the generosity of donors, friends, and partners of The Foundation for Evangelism.

The Foundation for Evangelism works globally to educate and invite people into the Christian faith. Grants to pan-Wesleyan/Methodist leaders, churches, seminaries, and denominations impact Christian leaders across five continents. To learn more about our work, visit

*under 250 participants

Christian Perfection

By Henry “Hal” Knight III

Photo by Rod Long on Unsplash

Christian perfection, or entire sanctification, may be the most controversial of Wesley’s teachings. It was certainly one of the most misunderstood, which is why Wesley took such great pains to define it. Christian perfection, he said, is “purity of intention, dedicating all the life to God” and “the mind which was in Christ, enabling us to walk as Christ walked.” It is “loving God with all our heart, and our neighbor as ourselves” (A Plain Account of Christian Perfection [Epworth, 1952] 109). It is “a restoration not only to the favour, but likewise to the image of God,” our “being filled with the fullness of God” (“The End of Christ’s Coming” § III.5, in A.C. Outler, ed., Sermons II [Abingdon., 1985] 482).

Wesley was also clear as to what it is not. Christian perfection does not imply a perfection of bodily health or an infallibility of judgment. Nor does it mean we no longer violate the will of God, for involuntary transgressions remain. Those perfected remain subject to temptation, and have continued need to pray for forgiveness. It is not an absolute perfection but a perfection in love.

Teachings like this are common in Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic traditions, and could be found in Wesley’s own Anglican tradition. What makes Wesley’s view distinctive is his strong Protestant convictions. We can see the effects in three areas.

First, he argued that Christian perfection is a gift of grace alone, to be received by faith. Sought by the believer, who, by grace, is open to receive it, Christian perfection comes in an instant, at God’s initiative. It is, Wesley said, “wrought in the soul by a simple act of faith, consequently in an instant.” In addition, he believed “in a gradual work both preceding and following that instant” (112). All of this is a work of grace.

Second, Wesley believed Christian perfection to be promised to everyone who believed—it is not only for a relatively small number of persons who belong to a monastic community, but for all persons in the midst of everyday life. Certainly, like monastics, believers undertake spiritual disciplines and belong to distinctive communities, but the disciplines are lived out in one’s daily life and the community involves weekly meetings in one’s neighborhood.

Third, Wesley held to Protestant notions of original sin, which meant there was nothing remaining in fallen human nature that either deserves or seeks salvation. Salvation was indeed by grace alone. This is why the Protestant reformers believed Christian perfection impossible in this life: the corruption of sin was simply too great and its influence too subtle for it to occur. Yet Wesley understood grace not only as forgiveness but transformation by the Holy Spirit. Unlike Luther or Calvin, Wesley believed the power of the Holy Spirit could take totally fallen human beings and over time completely restore in them the image of God, such that they would fully love God and their neighbor as God has loved them in Christ.

Many people today, as in Wesley’s day, find this teaching on Christian perfection hard to accept. One reason may be that we have not experienced the pattern of worship, community, daily devotion, and active service to others that marked the lives of early Methodists, and therefore lack the context in which it occurred. Another may be that we simply lack an expectant faith in the transforming power of God. But Wesley believed Christian perfection to be a promise of God to give us new life to the fullest. He also saw it as the source of deep and authentic happiness, for it restores us to the condition in which we were originally created. In any event, he argued that to seek Christian perfection would do us no harm, for as we do we continue the process of sanctification, and daily grow in the knowledge and love of God.

This article was originally posted as part of the Considering Wesley series on April 01, 2004 at

Dr. Henry H. Knight III is Donald and Pearl Wright Professor of Wesleyan Studies at Saint Paul School of Theology. His books include From Aldersgate to Azusa Street: Wesleyan, Holiness, and Pentecostal Visions of the New Creation (Wipf and Stock, 2010) and A Future for Truth: Evangelical Theology in a Postmodern World (Abingdon, 1997).