Excellence in ministry takes a thousand different forms and wears a thousand different faces. On June 2, the Baltimore-Washington Conference took time to honor two churches and several individuals for their faithfulness, gifts, and the unique and powerful ways they serve and honor God.
At the online Service of Celebration, Rehoboth UMC in the Cumberland-Hagerstown District was singled out among several outstanding nominees and given $1,000 as the winner of the BWC’s 2022 Advocacy and Action Award.
Rehoboth’s multi-faceted outreach includes the work of an intergenerational team that remodeled an outdated kitchen in the local homeless shelter for women and children during the pandemic. They also have a community garden that has served hundreds of area families. The garden, which is harvested by members in the community, provides boxes of fresh produce that is delivered to local churches, senior community, residential recovery homes, veteran’s homes, and homeless ministries.
These two ministries are just a brief example of Rehoboth UMC’s outreach efforts. At the church, members say they “discovered the sheer joy of rolling up our sleeves to provide for the real needs of our neighbors. Acts of Christian service brings the biblical stories to life and works to draw us closer to Christ through 'hands-on' ministry. We remain humble and honored that people beyond the church contribute with donations to support Rehoboth's mission to seek the lost and hurting. We are empowered by the Holy Spirit to sustain us through the challenges of COVID-19 and to identify where to focus our time and energy.”
The BWC’s 2022 Wellness and Missions Award, which also comes with a $1,000 prize, was presented to Oak Chapel UMC in the Greater Washington District.
“When many were forced to close their doors and shuttered inside in fear, Oak Chapel UMC members opened its doors to make a difference in the community,” Wellness and Missions Board leaders said.
In a spirit of innovation, they partnered with county groups, forming a collaboration that allows them to serve 600 families a week, providing food, diapers, baby formula, toiletries, health supplies, and case management services. They also supported a vaccination clinic, pediatric eye glass clinic and provided a place for student and offenders to engage in community service.
Oak Chapel continues to seek to find creative ways to tend to the spiritual, physical, and mental needs of all the children of God in their local community.
At the Service of Celebration, a third award was given to Emily St. Louis, of Community UMC in Crofton, who was named the BWC Youth Worker of the Year.
In the presentation of the award, St. Louis was honored as a steadfast presence in the youth ministry at Community UMC for more than a decade. She has grown from just showing up to be an adult presence to teaching and leading activities to being one of the co-leaders of the whole program. She has a heart for seeing youth grow in their faith in Jesus, learn to love the stories of Scripture, and serve others. She regularly teaches youth Sunday school and helps to lead bi-weekly evening gatherings, in addition to being a presence at retreats and mission trips.
Those at the church celebrate that she “exhibits the fruit of the Spirit in her life and ministry. She has a servant's heart and is always willing to go the extra mile to help those in need. Emily has the gift of hospitality and makes every youth and young adult that is a part of the ministry feel like they belong and are loved.”
The recipients of this year’s awards were nominated by their peers from throughout the Conference.
In addition, several others were honored for their ministries.
The BWC’s EarthKeepers, who have been certified in environmental ministries, were lifted up. The BWC’s newest EarthKeepers are the Rev. Stacey Cole Wilson and Thea Becton. Other conference EarthKeepers include: Jill Barker, Jim Beck, Liz Feighner, Mary Jo Fisher, Dell Hinton, Dave Huber, Caleb James, Rev. Cary James, Mike Koob, Sherie Koob, Laura File Long, Judy Smith, Rev. Rebecca Vardiman, Alan Ward, and Dottie Yunger.
Also honored were the BWC's licensed local pastors, who serve churches throughout the conference with great faithfulness and distinction.
Special recognition was given to the 11 congregations who broke new ground in congregational development by participating in the pilot wave of the BWC’s Catalyst Initiative. The Catalyst Initiative is a process of discovery, exploration and renewal designed to ignite faith into action. This initiative was made possible by a $1 million grant from the Lilly Endowment, Inc. Read about their experiences.
Also lifted up were four young adults who recently completed the BWC’s Innovators Cohort and a new class of interns, who will join the BWC this summer learning about how to be an inclusive, equitable, diverse and anti-racist church.
In addition, the 2022 Class of Retires was honored at the celebration service with testimonials about their ministry from their superintendents. This year’s retirees include:
William D. "Chip" Aldridge, Jr.
David A. Coakley
S. Jerry Colbert
Lena Marie Dennis
Sarah B. Dorrance
Patricia K. Robinson
Rodney T. Smothers
Herbert W. Watson, Jr.