In a celebration of discipleship and faithfulness, the Baltimore-Washington Conference awarded The One Matters Award that honors churches that have turned zero professions of faith into at least one with a renewed focus on discipleship.
The Rev. Bill Brown, the BWC’s Director of Creative Evangelism, announced six churches who have demonstrated an increased focus on discipleship and were awarded this national One Matters award.
They include Cranberry UMC in the Baltimore Suburban District, Uvilla UMC in the Frederick District, Mount Zion UMC in the Annapolis District, and Eden Korean UMC in the Baltimore Metro District.
Two other churches were singled out for their ministries as recipients of the award and were honored with grants for $1,000. They were Pisgah UMC in the Washington East District and Hughes UMC in the Greater Washington District.
According to District Superintendent, the Rev. Johnsie Cogman, Pisgah UMC, where Jeanne Parr is pastor, went from zero professions of faith in 2020 to two professions of faith in 2021.
According to Cogman, “church leaders attribute this increase to the intentional work they have done to develop and embed an Intentional Discipleship Pathway into the culture and life of the congregation.”
“God gets all the glory,” Parr said. “It's the church we are, we are a community church. We have deep gifts - helping and serving and loving, we come from a place of loving as unconditionally as possible, people feel that when they walk in and experience the authenticity and extravagant generosity, we are all about community - we want to care for those in the community.” The church took a workshop on discipleship with Phil Maynard which helped them develop a long-term strategy of moving from an inward to an outward focus.
Hughes UMC in Wheaton went from zero professions of faith in 2020 to eight in 2021, said District Superintendent, the Rev. Gerry Green.
“Church leaders attribute this increase to an intentional process of meeting people where they are, helping them engage with the congregation and then moving them into an intentional discipleship process,” Green said. “It begins as the pastor and leadership builds relationships with members of the community during their regular food distribution. As part of the conversation the pastor offers to pray with them and invites them to participate in community activities, like movie nights, before inviting them to participate in worship/church activities. Once they have engaged in a church activity, such as worship, people are encouraged to enter the Discipleship process which consists of three levels/steps: Level 1 - Systematic Bible study: Who is God, Who is Jesus, Who is the Holy Spirit?; Level 2 - What does it mean to be a disciple; Level 3 - Leadership Formation: Participants learn how to evangelize and then how to start a small group.”
“With this award,” said Brown, “we affirm Christ’s teaching that each ‘one’ is a life that matters -- to us, to the world, and to God.”