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AC Awards from child advocacy to second mile giving

Posted: June 10 2019 at 03:44 PM

United Voices for Children President Rev. Robert Biekman (left) and Bishop Sally Dyck (right) honor Rev. Norval I. Brown for receiving the Bishop Jesse R. DeWitt Child Advocacy Award.

The following awards were given during the 2019 Northern Illinois Annual Conference.

Bishop Jesse R. DeWitt Child Advocacy Award:
While serving as our bishop from 1980 to 1988, Bishop Jesse R. DeWitt led by example as he participated, represented and spoke out for children, youth and families who did not have a voice. One of his greatest passions was speaking out to educate and inform local churches about legislation and issues impacting the lives of children. 

Presented to: 
Rev. Dr. Norval I. Brown, Deerfield: Christ 

An elder in NIC for more than 30 years, Rev. Brown has advocated for the unique needs of children in a variety of leadership roles within the congregations he has served and within the greater Chicagoland community. Over the years Rev. Brown has served as president of the board of directors for United Voices for Children, as a board member of ChildServ, as a camp counselor for children at Camp Reynoldswood (1978-1986) and as the director of Chicago Southern District Campus Ministry at University of Chicago and University of Illinois - Chicago (2003-2007). Rev. Brown consistently supports the youth members and children of his appointed congregations with appearances at concerts, contests, and plays. Currently, he serves as the vice-chair of the board of directors of MYSI and as dean of the Maceo D. Pembroke institute for Ministerial Recruitment and Leadership Development. He is the pastor of Christ UMC in Deerfield, Illinois. This award honors Rev. Brown’s lifelong commitment to bold leadership and cumulative service with children and families. 

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Ann Daniels receives the Katherine Greene Child Worker award, one of five awards given by United Voices for Children.

Katherine Greene Child Worker Award (co-honorees) 
Presented to:
Ann Daniels, Rockford: Christ 

Ann has worked as a volunteer in children’s ministries at Christ UMC Rockford since 1978. She has taught Sunday School and Vacation Bible School and is now a “Counseling Teacher” who trains other teachers. She is the current chair of the Children’s Council and has served on the board of the Christ Preschool. Recognizing that children’s ministry is not just on Sunday mornings, Ann works with Jesus And Me (JAM) on Wednesday nights, a growing program of families, especially single mothers, from the community who gather for a communal meal, worship, games, and fellowship. In the Rockford community, Mrs. Daniels volunteers at Saturday Kid’s Club where she works with neighborhood children doing crafts, games and story time. During the summer, Mrs. Daniels is part of the “Hi Neighbor” summer outreach program, an ecumenical effort to provide children a place that they can “drop in.” Throughout all of these years of ministry, Ann has tirelessly taught children what it means to be children of God, saved through Christ, and upheld by the Spirit. 

Leigh Anne Piper, Lanark 
A long-time member and leader at Lanark UMC, Leigh is someone who takes action when she encounters a problem. As a nurse and lifelong resident of Carroll County, she was well aware of the high number of infants and children at risk for critical early development resources in this rural community. In 2007, as part of a project to fulfill an advanced degree requirement, Leigh Anne created the Pitter Patter Pantry. It began as a project where a few churches provided needed supplies for infants and children enrolled in the WIC program and has evolved in a large, volunteer-run organization that provides an alternative site for low-income families of Carroll County to purchase essential items for their preschool children. Pitter Patter Pantry is a light-filled, retail environment where program participants shop with their “Baby Bucks” which they have earned through participating in Health Department-identified programs. Through Leigh Anne’s visionary leadership, this program is having a real impact in fighting the devastating effects of childhood poverty. 

Rev. Margaret Ann Williams Service Award 
Presented to: Sharonda King, Rockford: Christ the Carpenter 

Sharonda joined Christ the Carpenter as a teenager and has been a faithful presence and leader in the congregation ever since. She served as a junior usher and as a lead singer in the choir. She also was part of a weekly Christian-based activities night, where her spirit and energy helped the pastor provide inspiration for the 20 to 30 children and youth attending. From a young age, Sharonda has been a role model for other young persons. Now a single mom with two children in preschool and another starting high school, she works two jobs and still finds time to lead two praise dance teams. The younger team has 10 to 12 members who are three to five years of age, and the Anointed Movement team consists of 5 to 7 teenagers. Sharonda has organized two city-wide praise dance concerts. She has instilled a spiritual discipline and desire to give praise to God in these children and youth. 

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Baker Memorial UMC in Aurora with Senior Pastor Rev. Mary Zajac was one of six recipients of this year's One Matters Award.

One Matters Discipleship Ministries Award

The One Matters Discipleship Award was created by the Discipleship Ministries (GBOD) in 2015 with the purpose of lifting up churches who have in recent years moved from 0 baptisms and 0 professions of faith into positive numbers as they redirected their focus toward intentional discipleship. In addition to the One Matters Discipleship plaque, each church receives $1,000 to encourage the continuation of their work in discipleship. The Northern Illinois Conference is one of the most diverse conferences in The United Methodist Church, so instead of recognizing one congregation, we have the opportunity to offer six awards, with the help of the Office of Connectional Ministries and apportionment dollars. Most importantly, as we celebrate these churches and hear their stories, we are invited to ask “What are they doing differently that is helping them to turn things around, by God’s grace?” And when we discern an answer to that question, we can ask ourselves, “What can we do to make a difference?” Each person matters to God! This we celebrate!

Presented to: 

  • Aurora: Baker Memorial (Rev. Mary Zajac) 
  • Chicago Northwestern: United Church of Rogers Park (Rev. Lindsey Long Joyce and Rev. Hope Chernich) 
  • Chicago Southern: First UMC at the Chicago Temple (Rev. Myron McCoy and Rev. Wendy Witt) 
  • DeKalb: Mendota: Zion (Rev. Hogun Kim) 
  • Elgin: La Luz de Cristo/El Mesias (Pastor Ruben Rivera) 
  • Rockford: Shannon: Bethel (Rev. Michael Jones) 

To read their full stories, visit Questions about One Matters? Please contact Rev. J. Martin Lee, Director of Congregational Development and Redevelopment, at or 312-346-9766, ext. 708.

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Golden Cross awardees from left to right: Gail Barth of Bethany Retirement Community in Chicago, Sewit Tesfamichael of Chicago Methodist Senior Services, Holly Briggs-Finn of Wesley Willows in Rockford, and Dawn Aves of Oak Crest Retirement Center in DeKalb.

Rainbow Covenant
The Philip Otterbein Award: “Highest Total Rainbow Covenant Giving” Libertyville: $36,726
The John Wesley Award: “Highest Rainbow Covenant Giving per Member” Chicago: El Redentor/Redeemer of Calvary: 67.6%

Golden Cross Awards
The Council for Older Adult Ministry (OAM) of the Northern Illinois Conference (NIC) awarded the Golden Cross Award to four individuals at a luncheon held in connection with the 180th NIC Annual Conference in Schaumburg on June 4. The awardees included Gail Barth of Bethany Retirement Community in Chicago, Sewit Tesfamichael of Chicago Methodist Senior Services, Holly Briggs-Finn of Wesley Willows in Rockford, and Dawn Aves of Oak Crest Retirement Center in DeKalb.

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