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.

Rev. Dr. Alma Tinoco Ruiz
Duke Divinity School

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.

-Harun Gatobu

Thank you! This was very helpful, and inspired me to seek a way to make “safe space” for lament in my context.

– Beth Wilterdink

In addition to the breakout session sponsored by The Foundation for Evangelism, Rev. Dr. F. Douglas Powe, Jr., the E. Stanley Jones Professor of Evangelism at Wesley Theological Seminary, presented a breakout session entitled “Save Our Church” based on his new book The Adept Church: Navigating Between a Rock and a Hard Place.

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 Ferree receives the Harry Denman Evangelism Award from the West Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church. Photo courtesy St. Paul’s United Methodist Church.

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 (middle) with Rev. Rachel Baughman (left) and the Rev. Mara Morhouse of Oak Lawn United Methodist Church, at a pre-pandemic gathering. Photo courtesy of Oak Lawn United Methodist Church.

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!”

United Methodist News Service has a wonderful story about Billie Jean that includes links to a video about her and the ministry she helped to start at https://www.umnews.org/en/news/evangelism-award-winner-slept-outside-church.

Read more stories like this

Part of a Series Highlighting the 2019 Harry Denman Evangelism Award Recipients

The Foundation for Evangelism reached out to the recipients of the Harry Denman Evangelism Award from each Annual Conference, encouraging them to share their story and ministry of inviting all people into a life-transforming relationship with Jesus Christ. This is one in a series of responses that we hope will inspire you to share your faith story and the Good News of Jesus Christ with those you meet and know.

Carrie Thurmond-Argro

I am grateful to have been chosen as a recipient of the 2019 Harry Denman Award in our Annual Conference. I was surprised to know that what I enjoy doing on a daily basis is considered as a service within the conference, when all I set out to do is to let people know how awesome the God [is] who sought me out in my deepest, darkest and painful moments in my life. 

It is such an awesome experience to share my story with you and to acknowledge that my journey has not been easy but it indeed has been worth it.

In the sharing of my testimony I want to tell you that in June 12th of 1986 my mother was shot and killed by her husband here in the City of Chester Pa., just before my 21st birthday. I lost my way and I had no idea how to grieve. I’d buried my grief in medicating myself with drugs and alcohol every weekend and then during the week my addiction began to take control of me, until one day my friend ask me why I always got high and talked about God? I knew He was the answer to my troubles I just didn’t know how to get up from that dark place. Finally one night they asked me to leave and I refused and my friend had a seizure from doing the drugs. I clearly heard a voice say “this is not the life I  chose for you”. When the I left that place I went to Grace UMC requesting prayer after I confessed to the people where I had been and what I was doing, how my life was so out of control and I needed prayer for deliverance for God to remove the taste and to help me get up from that place of addiction that was seeking to destroy me. He heard the prayers, answered my cry and set me free from me, to follow Him in May of 1998 and I am forever grateful for this journey with Jesus that has changed my whole life. I owe it to Him to tell the world. What God has done for me He can and will do for others who desires a one on one relationship with Him. I’ve been blessed by the Best and now I am praying for the rest. My testimony is my story for His glory. 

How did I know that I was called to this evangelism ministry? The answer is that I was doing it even when I did not know what a calling really was. In my days of addiction I would always talk about God to those who were in my company and it seemed that I could never get away form acknowledging while needing help in my time of trouble. 

Who encouraged me? There were many along the way but most of all what I thought was my conscience then, I now know was the Holy Spirit speaking to me in my moments of sanity and convicting me at a time when I needed it the most, more than anything the change was slowing happening.

Were there obstacles? Most certainly there were obstacles called people, places, things, hurts, pain and weaknesses. I overcame those through prayer and prayer services. At 6am prayer on one Monday morning I stumbled into Grace UMC under the influence and I requested prayer for deliverance. Slowly and surely my prayers were answered.

What is one thing I wish I had when I started? I wish that I had the help and support that was needed to help those who were medicating themselves like me because we did not know how to process our grief.

What is the most important advice I could give to someone who is feeling that call to evangelism ministry? The most important advice I could give to someone who is feeling the call is to pray for and with them and encourage them to tell their story and seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit to work on them, in them and through them as they seek to reach out to the least , the last, those left out and those who feel alone. 

Thanks for the opportunity to share, knowing God gets all the glory and the honor because I never could have made it with out Him. 

Committed to Serve.
Carrie

ESJ Professors of Evangelism on web conference

In January, eleven E. Stanley Jones Professors of Evangelism gathered in a web conference in which they shared how they are expanding beyond changing and equipping new leaders to focusing on evangelism in the local church. These experts in Wesleyan-tradition evangelism logged in from the U.S. coast to coast, as well as from Germany and Russia.

While the professors have gathered on an annual or biennial basis in the past, this virtual meeting was a first for the group, and future gatherings like it are planned. The participants shared that it was great to hear what their colleagues were working on, and at several times during the conversation encouragement was given, connections were made, resources shared, and suggestions given for collaboration.

Common Themes

Several themes became apparent throughout the discussion. A need to equip small churches was voiced, especially in areas where attendance is declining.  Several shared of their experience with students eager to try new models of evangelism applicable to their context such as “Dinner Church” and “House Church” as well as church gatherings that take place in and address the needs of the community.  Most of the professors shared recent publications or those in the works. In April, Rev. Dr. F. Douglas Powe at Wesley Theological Seminary will release, The Adept Church: Navigating Between a Rock and a Hard Place (Abingdon Press).

Rev. Dr. Stephen Gunter, director of the E. Stanley Jones Professors of Evangelism program for the FFE, reflected that it was good for the professors to be able to connect in this way. By seeing one another and sharing more frequently, it helped them to feel less isolated and part of a larger cohort .

Changes In the Classroom

Technology has changed the way many of the professors teach. Several cited that their seminary has multiple campuses or offers online courses for students working remotely. This use of technology has allowed better engagement with students and has in some cases been a bridge for church leader training outside of the traditional seminary track.

Rev. Dr. Mark Teasdale has been leading the “Evangelism for Non-Evangelists” online courses for several years now through Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. Having helped Teasdale and other professors lead many webinars in her previous role as Director of Evangelism Ministries at Discipleship Ministries, Rev. Dr. Heather Lear noted that technology has enabled many second career pastors and local pastors to get the training in evangelism they need in an accessible way. Heather is now serving as Teaching and Research Fellow for the FFE and is working on more ways to engage the E.S.J. Professors in training the local church using media and technology as a resource. Last fall, she was able to engage three professors of evangelism (two of which are ESJ Professors) to expand on that webinar and explore the concepts more in-depth. “The E Word” webinar series was offered to previous participants in Teasdale’s webinar as well as a select group of church leaders, laity and Foundation for Evangelism partners and friends.

Connecting Church and Community

Increasingly, part of the work of the E. Stanley Jones Professors of Evangelism is expanding to study and facilitate connection between church and community. Rev. Dr. Angel Santiago Vendrell at Asbury Seminary Orlando shared that he is working with a small parish near a difficult area of town to foster relationships between the church which is predominantly white, and the neighborhood which is predominantly Hispanic-Latino. Rev. Dr. F. Douglas Powe shared about his work with the Lewis Center for Church Leadership (he is currently the director in addition to his position as an E. Stanley Jones Professor of Evangelism). There, he says, he works with students as well as church leaders, clergy and laity to help churches become more viable and engaged with their communities, taking the Gospel outside the church and not waiting for people to come to them.

The Foundation for Evangelism’s president, Jane Wood, shared that as a lay leader in her annual conference, it was great to hear the professors thinking beyond the academic institution and finding ways to prepare leaders – both clergy and laity –  for a culture of evangelism in the local church.

Collaboration for Greater Impact

The professors also discussed collaborative projects. Transforming Evangelism: The Wesleyan Way of Sharing Faith (written by Powe and Rev. Dr. Hal Knight) will be translated into Spanish in 2020 through a grant from the FFE. Rev. Dr. Santiago will be the reader on that project. The professors plan to share syllabi to help them shape their classes in evangelism to better equip students. Rev. Dr. Achim Hartner from Reutlingen Theological Seminary in Germany expressed his excitement about presenting alongside Rev. Dr. David Whitworth (Gammon Theological Seminary) and Rev. Dr. Daniel Shin (Drew Theological Seminary) at the 2020 Wallace Chappell Lectures tentatively scheduled for June at Candler School of Theology in Atlanta, Ga.

Throughout the conversations, it was apparent that The E. Stanley Jones Professors of Evangelism are not just teaching in a classroom but are actively engaged in connecting to and equipping the local church through leadership training and resource development. Each one expressed a love for the local church and a desire to help equip them to be an authentic voice to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with their communities.

Learn more about the E. Stanley Jones Professors of Evangelism or connect with some of the resources they have developed or contributed to on our Resources page.

The Foundation for Evangelism is pleased to announce that Rev. Allen Black was elected as the chair of the board of trustees at its annual meeting on October 29, 2019. Rev. Black is an elder in the Tennessee Conference of the United Methodist Church and serves as district superintendent for the Harpeth River District.

Born and raised in Birmingham, Ala., Allen accepted the call to ministry at age 15. He served as Youth Director, Associate Pastor and Senior pastor of churches in Alabama while studying for his BS degree in Religion and Philosophy at Samford University in Birmingham. He received a Master of Religious Education (MRE) from New Orleans Theological Seminary and a Master of Divinity (M.Div) with honors from Memphis Theological Seminary.

Rev Black has served United Methodist Churches in Mississippi and Tennessee and has been a trustee of the Foundation for Evangelism since 2011. He is a representative to the World Methodist Council and is a member of the Order of the Flame and National Association of United Methodist Evangelists. He is married to Marjorie Black and they have five children and lots of grandchildren.

It began with just a converted camper trailer, three storage units, and a passion for reaching people with the good news of Jesus Christ. In the oil boom area of Watford City, North Dakota, much of the population works in the oil or services industry. Yet because of the volatility of the industry and transient lifestyle of some of the workers, there is often a need for support – both for physical needs like clothing, food, and household items, as well as spiritual support for those who live apart from family and support networks for months or even years at a time.

Through the Dakotas Conference of the United Methodist Church’s “Bakken Oil Rush Ministry,” one couple has made it their mission to share the Good News of Jesus with those individuals in the wake of these oil “booms and busts.” Jim and Kathie Konsor see their work providing the needed goods and support as a way to build relationship with individuals who are in need of not only the physical items to make their lives a bit better, but also a prayer, hug or laughter to encourage their spirits.

The Bakken Oil Rush Ministry has impacted the lives of thousands of people, thanks to the leadership of Jim and Kathie who have moved the program from an extension ministry of the conference to a self-supporting 501(c)3 organization. The ministry has moved from its humble beginnings and now includes a new retail center as well as a sorting and storage warehouse. Having gained region-wide support and endorsement, the ministry now has the capability of responding to local emergencies and assisting the community where needed – always with the intention of showing the love of Jesus.

Recently, the Dakotas Conference of The United Methodist Church honored Jim and Kathie Konsor with the 2019 Harry Denman Evangelism Award for their unwavering call to share the Love of Jesus with all they meet. We celebrate their devoted ministry, which, in the spirit of Harry Denman, makes personal connections to help bring all people into a life-transforming relationship with Jesus Christ.

On the morning of Sunday, May 26, at First United Methodist Church in Humble, Texas, Pastor Danny Hernaez was surrounded by family, friends, and his pastor when he was presented with The Foundation for Evangelism’s Distinguished Evangelist Award. The following evening, he was honored at the Texas Annual Conference Awards Banquet.

“Pastor Danny” is credited with the establishment of the first Walk to Emmaus in the Philippines (2012) where he continues to work with teams in the program as well as the Chrysalis and Kairos programs. He has also been a coach for the Vibrant Church Initiative, and has participated in Laity Unleashed and the Academy for Spiritual Formation in the Texas Annual Conference. Those who know him call him a prayer warrior and an inspirational writer and speaker. One nominator for the award stated that “God has given Danny wisdom and the power of discernment and has made use of his talents and skills in speaking, writing, organizing and relating with people; in spreading the Good News; and in advancing the Kingdom of God, wherever he finds himself.”

Upon presenting the award to Pastor Hernaez, The Foundation for Evangelism’s President, Jane Boatwright Wood, noted that, “We are excited to celebrate the ministry of Pastor Danny Hernaez and look forward to working with him to share his inspiration and expertise. Recipients of The Distinguished Evangelist Award, both present and past, remind us that as disciples, we are called to invite all people into life-transforming relationship with Jesus Christ.” Pastor Danny humbly expressed his thanks on receiving the recognition and shared, “I look forward to serving through the Foundation for Evangelism in spreading the Word beyond this award. Only for Him!”

Rev. Dr. Robert G. Tuttle, Jr., met E. Stanley Jones at a Christian Ashram in 1969. Their lives intersected many times following this first encounter, and Dr. Tuttle would later relate that Jones’ writings profoundly shaped his view of theology, preaching, and his life. Based on personal conversations and insights, In Our Time: The Life and Ministry of E. Stanley Jones describes the life of this missonary-evangelist in sequence and includes interactions with Jones’ wife, Mabel, and daughter, Eunice, painting a reality of the whole family.

Reflecting on his relationship with E. Stanley Jones, Dr. Tuttle states,

I remember reading Brother Stanley’s last book The Divine Yes, when it was first released after he died in India…. He reminded me that bad theology puts the people in bondage whereas good theology sets us free. I wanted to set people free.

The Biography can be pre-ordered from The E. Stanley Jones Foundation. All proceeds go to the foundation to publish other works by E. Stanley Jones.

Today marks a beginning for The Foundation for Evangelism.

Today we have fulfilled the vision to be a Catalyst to Equip Disciples to Share the Good News of Jesus Christ for 70 years.

Dr. Harry Denman joined 4 passionate Methodists to establish the Foundation and named our chartered purpose on January 31, 1949.  They said it this way: The Foundation for Evangelism’s purpose is “diffusing the blessings of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ by promoting and supporting all phases of evangelism; [and] to promote evangelistic intelligence, interest and zeal throughout the Methodist Church, and throughout the nation and the world;”

Today, we have chosen the word CATALYST, an element that initiates actions and changes systems without changing its purpose or nature, to represent the vision of those who serve as trustees, staff, and partners.

Anniversaries are not about a moment in time.  They establish a time to remember and celebrate while simultaneously launching the next chapter. Throughout 2019, The Foundation for Evangelism invites you to join us as we revisit the stories of ministry that impacts lives, churches, communities, and the world.

We will not stop at remembering.  Every day we move forward to be a CATALYST.  You are invited to join us as we explore where God is calling us next.  We will continue to be a CATALYST for the creation of disciples so changed by their relationship with Jesus Christ that they cannot help but serve as he served or share WHY JESUS in every aspect of their lives.

– Jane Boatwright Wood
President