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Looking for Michigan ‘packages of love’

Love God during worship at Mount Hope

“Evangelism can only be seen in a person. We need to become a package of love …” Nominations are now open for the Harry Denman and the One Matters awards of The United Methodist Church.

DIRK ELLIOTT
Director of Congregational Vibrancy/Leadership Development 

Evangelism happens in many contexts in many settings. Evangelism has long been one of the core values of the United Methodist Church. 

The Harry Denman Evangelism Award honors United Methodists whose exceptional ministry of evangelism brings people into a life-transforming relationship with Jesus Christ. Each year, the award honors one United Methodist clergy, one youth, and a layperson in each conference across the denomination.

During Harry Denman’s life, many people across the U.S. and even around the world recognized this faithful man as the person who introduced them to Jesus Christ. Harry Denman was a friend to taxi drivers, missionaries, homemakers, students, pastors, world leaders, and the United Methodist Church. Denman’s service and commitment to Methodism spanned more than 60 years. He wrote, “The only way we can see Christ is to see him wrapped in a person. Evangelism can only be seen in a person. We need to become a package of love, a package of faith, a package of Christ. Then we will be a package of evangelism.”

Denman was a layperson in a local church in Birmingham, AL. He became the first General Secretary of the Board of Evangelism of the newly formed Methodist Church in 1939.”

Funded by a grant from the Foundation for Evangelism, The Denman Evangelism Award focuses on equipping disciples to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. 

Eric Mulanda shares God's love
Rev. Eric Mulanda, pastor of Mount Hope UMC in Lansing, was the recipient of the 2021 Harry Denman Evangelism Award in The Michigan Conference. ~ miphoto/Aaron Word

In 2021, Michigan’s Harry Denman Evangelism Award was presented to Rev. Eric Mulanda. Eric is the pastor at Lansing: Mt Hope. During the COVID pandemic, worship attendance increased there by nine percent. The church celebrated 17 baptisms, including five adults and several youth. In addition, the church has started a virtual campus in Sarasota, FL. 

During the first six months that Eric served as the new lead pastor of Mt. Hope, he visited 80% of the congregation. Because of COVID, Eric doesn’t go into the homes. He goes to the house of a parishioner, stands outside, and talks to them through the window or screen door. The church started a new mid-week worship service, serving a hot meal and lively worship. This service targets the neighbors around the church. 

Pastor Mulanda says, “It is a wonderful ministry.  Tiring, but wonderful.”

Every year Discipleship Ministries partners with annual conferences by offering the One Matters Award to one eligible congregation in each conference.

The One Church Matters Award strongly focuses on making disciples. Jeff Campbell,  Acting General Secretary of Discipleship Ministries, says, “With the One Matters Discipleship Award, we want to lift up the importance of discipleship and help interpret across the connection what zeros in professions of faith and baptism mean and what moving away from the zeros means. Each “One” in those categories represents a transformed life – a life that matters to God, and a life that should matter to us.”

The award includes $1,000 and a One Matters Discipleship Award plaque. Campbell explained, ”The monetary award is designed to encourage continued growth in the area of discipleship.”

Hub of Hope shares God's love
Pastor Monique French accepts the 2021 Michigan Conference One Matters Award on behalf of Washington Heights UMC. ~ video image

Washington Heights United Methodist Church received the 2021 One Matters Award. Pastor Monique French was appointed to Washington Heights UMC on July 1, 2020. Pastor Monique hit the ground running, casting vision and creating hope for the future. When she arrived, the building looked abandoned. The congregation immediately began working hard to clean up the church and the property to make it more aesthetically pleasing. They planted flowers and put up banners. They partnered with the city’s Parks and Rec department to help clean up the children’s park area. Pastor Monique met with numerous community leaders to gain their confidence and show that Washington Heights was bringing new life back into the neighborhood.

As part of the community outreach, Washington Heights Church partnered with R.I.S.E. RISE stands for Re-integration to Support and Empower. RISE supports families and children who have experienced trauma (Aces) or tragedy to cope and do things necessary to put their lives back together again. 

Washington Heights UMC is the distribution center for healthy food, dairy, produce, hygiene products, and cleaning supplies. They are working with other organizations in their community to rebrand themselves as the Hub of HOPE for Battle Creek. Hub of HOPE offers their community everything from student empowerment programs and structured learning to micro clinics to vaccinate the elderly and vulnerable population.

The young people of the community have the opportunity to learn and serve the people of Battle Creek. The Hub of HOPE offers these kids and teens a quiet, safe space to complete school work and give back. Volunteers want to make sure that these young people have a place away from whatever struggles they face at home. They want to help them learn and inspire them to serve.

At Washington Heights UMC, they believe that everyone should find a way to give back. Their way of doing so is by building opportunities through community involvement, uplifting people, and providing hope and belonging to their community.

Love in action at vaccine clinic
In the summer of 2021, Washington Heights UMC partnered with the Calhoun County Health Department to host a vaccine clinic and backpack give-away. ~ Facebook/Washington Heights UMC & Ministry

Washington Heights believes that they exist not just for themselves but as an extension of HOPE rooted in LOVE for individuals, the people in the community, the city of Battle Creek, and the world. They are a physical presence in the world servicing the needs of humanity by equipping, empowering, and educating through their service, activities, and ministries. They believe that the local church’s mission and vision help us fulfill the global United Methodist Churches vision and mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

The Harry Denman Evangelism Award and the One Matters Award will be presented at the 2022 Annual Conference.  The Office of Congregational Vibrancy is looking for worthy candidates. These nominations are due by March 15, 2022.

Do you know someone whose ministry has transformed lives? To submit a nominee for the Harry Denman evangelism award:

  • Download a nomination form from the website by clicking here. Offer nominations for clergy, youth, and laypersons.
  • Complete the form and submit it to the Michigan Conference by emailing it to: delliott@michiganumc.org.

To nominate a church for the One Matters Award, click here and complete the Google form.

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