Churches Recognized for Vital Services

Since 1991, 105 churches in 28 states and the District of Columbia have received Union Presbyterian Seminary Congregational Leadership Awards. Each congregation is awarded $1000 for their work in innovative ministry.

The 2014 Congregational Leadership Award Recipients are:

University Presbyterian Church of San Antonio, TX, received the Al Dimmock Award for its excellence and congregational involvement in the empowerment of older adults. Said one panelist, “This diverse group of leaders from the interfaith community has worked tirelessly to expand the reach of the SoL Center which offers courses in Theology, Interfaith Dialogue, Ecology, Spiritual Practice, and more, focusing on a wide range of older adult needs and interests. This is an excellent response to the post 9/11 world and the continuing needs of the 21st century.”

First Presbyterian Church of Lafayette, LA, received the Elinor Curry Award for its ministry of outreach and social concern that addresses the call of the church to “do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God,” and in so doing changes the congregation. “Inspired by the abundance of remaining donations for a disaster relief effort, the church began making gift baskets to show God’s love,” shared one panelist. “Now, church and community volunteers of all ages work to assemble and distribute the baskets. Since beginning this ministry to the community worship attendance has doubled.“

Beacon New Church Development of Philadelphia, PA, received the James Goodpasture Award for excellence in ministry to persons with developmental disabilities and to their families.  “The emerging vision of Beacon is brilliant! With a strong legacy in community service, they allowed themselves to be inspired by a new need and expand their the children/youth activities to include people with developmental needs.” One panelist underscored BNCD’s courage, “Many organizations would have run away rather than embracing such needs. “

New Hope Presbyterian Church of Orange, CA, is one of two churches selected for the Katherine Hawes Award for its effective youth ministry that engages youth in all areas of the church’s mission, extending beyond the church into the community and the world. “It’s impressive to see this congregation involved in a community known for its poverty and crime, working so hard to fund the musical programs at two schools, “ one panelist remarked. “This is a wonderful initiative that absolutely blew me away.”

Northern Lakes Community Church of Northern Lakes, MI, is one of two churches selected for the Katherine Hawes Award for its effective youth ministry that engages youth in all areas of the church’s mission, extending beyond the church into the community and the world. “It’s impressive that a 17 year old congregation begins with a strong youth ministry and expects it to remain a cornerstone of the ministry. After involving youth in every aspect of church leadership this 125 member congregation has sent 87 young adults out into the world.”  Said one panelist, “This is being church!”

St. Luke’s Presbyterian Church of Titusville, FL, is the recipient of this year’s Louise McComb Award for excellence in Christian education for older adults. “St. Lukes’ RECESS ministry began as a monthly fellowship activity to bring an avenue of fun and fellowship for members who were lonely, hurting, or in need of a social outlet.  The program evolved into an outreach program as non-members came to represent at least 50% of participants.” Noted one panelist, “The program’s growth speaks to its place in the church community and outside the walls!”

Prospect Presbyterian Church of Maplewood, NJ, is the recipient of this year’s W.T. “Tolly” Thompson Award for creatively meeting a vital Christian education need in the church community. “Prospect has a true inter-generational ministry!” enthused one panelist. “Following a study conducted by the laity, the congregation created intergenerational programs. The annual retreat and Sensational Sundays program – a monthly gathering of all ages in the during the educational hour; provide creative times of energetic sharing and rigorous Bible study which is having an impact on worship and the lives of the families.”