Evangelism extends God’s love in a variety of contexts and settings; it impacts and engages all generations; and evangelism is built upon relationship – both with God and with those around us. The Harry Denman Evangelism Award honors United Methodists in each annual conference whose exceptional ministry of evangelism brings people into a life-transforming relationship with Jesus Christ.
This year, West Ohio presented the Denman Award to Lay Person Marie Ferree from St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Defiance. Marie first came to St. Paul’s food pantry as a client, then as a volunteer, and now is the director of the pantry. “Marie has and continues to lead an exceptional ministry that brings hope to people and leads them into life-transforming relationships with Jesus Christ,” says Rev. John Schlicher, senior pastor at St. Paul’s. “Marie consistently introduces others to the Good News of Jesus Christ not only in the food pantry, but in every ministry area she is involved in.”
Marie has expanded the food pantry ministry to also include a community meal, prayer time, and Bible study, sharing the love of Jesus with her neighbors in both word and deed. Marie’s nomination for the Denman Award was filled with testimonials from volunteers and clients of the food pantry, all of whom described Marie as loving, generous, determined, and compassionate.
“Getting to know Marie the last few years, I see that she is a very caring and determined person. I have seen her stop everything for a client in need on multiple occasions. She truly wants to make the world around her better, even if it is only one person at a time.” -Sarah
“Marie Ferree exemplifies the term ‘generosity,’ as well as Christian love. In addition to feeding bodies in the food pantry, Marie has initiated a Bible Study which feeds the souls of the clients.” -Jean
“Clients can talk with her, she does not judge, but offers a shoulder to cry on, and listens carefully to what they are saying. Marie doesn't necessarily solve their problems but assures them that God is listening and offers prayers and comfort.” -Paul
“One element that distinguishes Marie in her ministry is her ability to see each client as a child of God and to treat them as such,” Pastor Schlicher remarks. “Marie has made a genuine bridge to the community with many people moving forward in their faith journeys and ultimately being baptized and joining the church here at St. Paul's. It is a blessing and a great joy to be in ministry with Marie.”
Thank you, Marie, for your exceptional leadership in helping to build God’s kingdom!