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Conference Recognizes Ministry, Outreach Leaders

On the final afternoon of the 2017 West Ohio Annual Conference, leaders from across the Conference were recognized for their work in evangelism, outreach, and social justice - the work of Connectional Ministries. These are men and women, youth and young adults, who were faithful to answer God's call to come and labor in God's harvest fields. Some help to sow the seeds; others water them; and still others reap the bounty come harvest-time.

The Harry Denman Evangelism Award is presented to an individual who displays a passion and commitment for sharing the love of Jesus Christ with others. This year's clergy recipients are Rev. John Keeny, Senior Pastor at King Avenue UMC in Capitol Area North; and Rev. Dr. Stephen L. Swisher, Senior Pastor at Etna UMC in Capitol Area South. Two youth recipients were also recognized this year: Conner Ewing and Cami Mohler, both members of Grand Lake UMC in the Northwest Plains District.

The Francis Asbury/Campus Ministry Award recognizes individuals who have made a significant contribution to fostering United Methodist ministries in higher education. This year's award winner is Rev. Dr. David MacDonald, university chaplain at Ohio Northern University in Ada, OH.

Brian Montgomery, HIV/AIDS Leader in West Ohio, is being recognized for his seven years of service on the planning team for West Ohio's AIDS Healing Weekend, the last five as co-chair. Brian, a professional musician and Certified Lay Minister, lives in Cincinnati and attends Clifton UMC.

West Ohio is also honoring two faithful volunteers whose service has impacted the lives of many across our state through disaster response ministries: Deb Berry and Roger Thatcher. Deb is an UMCOR-trained Disaster Case Manager who became involved in disaster response during a flooding event in LaRue, OH, in 2014. Roger Thatcher has helped to make West Ohio Disaster Response what it is today, engaging hundreds of volunteers and numerous churches.

Each year, the United Methodist Rural Advocates present the William B. Murray Vital Church Award to a rural church worshiping less than 100 that displays passionate worship, radical hospitality, risk-taking service and mission, extravagant generosity, and faith-forming relationships. District award winners are Raymond United Methodist Church (Capital Area North), Hopewell United Methodist Church (Capital Area South), Delta United Methodist Church (Maumee Watershed), Wares Chapel United Methodist Church (Miami Valley), Gilboa United Methodist Church (Northwest Plains), Batavia Faith United Methodist Church (Ohio River Valley), and Georgetown United Methodist Church (Shawnee Valley). This year's Conference award winner is Batavia Faith UMC in the Ohio River Valley District.

All In Community congregations are committed to building a relationship with an incarcerated neighbor and welcoming them upon their return to the community. Dedicated to being communities of reconciliation and redemption, these churches are living witnesses of God's power to forgive and redeem: Gilboa UMC and St. Marks UMC (Northwest Plains); Church of the Messiah UMC, Broad Street UMC, Global Community UMC, Marysville First UMC, and Maynard Avenue UMC (Capitol Area North); Reynoldsburg UMC and Pickerington Trinity UMC (Capitol Area South); Grace UMC and Yellow Springs UMC (Miami Valley); and The Gathering UMC (Ohio River Valley).

West Ohio Light of the World churches are outstanding in their commitment to shine the light of God's love into their communities and reach new people for Christ. This year's Light of the World churches are West Mansfield UMC (Capitol Area North); New Horizons UMC (Capitol Area South); Layman UMC (Foothills); Jackson Center UMC (Miami Valley); Archbold UMC (Maumee Watershed); St. Paul Community UMC (Ohio River Valley); and Bainbridge UMC (Shawnee Valley).

The One Matters Initiative was created by the General Board of Discipleship to celebrate churches that are extending Christ's love to their neighbors and bringing new members into their congregations. This year's One Matters West Ohio Conference Award winner is Zion United Methodist Church from the Northwest Plains District.

The West Ohio Conference has developed a new opportunity to reach out and connect with our young Hispanic and Latino neighbors: a summer discipleship and internship program in two of our multi-cultural congregations. This summer's four interns are Maria Vazquez Baez and Brian Tapia Carvajal, both from Esperanza Viva and interning at The Point in the Miami Valley District; Mariah Mann from State Avenue UMC and Tulashi Ram Kami from Global Community UMC, both interning at Global Community in Capitol Area North.

Thank you to each and every congregation that gives to our connectional system...because of you, we truly are inviting people into faith and changing the world!