Margaret "Peggy" Ray speaks after receiving the 2017 Francis Asbury Award at the 2017 PNW Annual Conference Session as Bishop Elaine Stanovsky looks on. Rev. Kendra Behn-Smith (not pictured) announced the surprise award on behalf of the Conference Board of Higher Education and Campus Ministry.

NASHVILLE, Tenn., July 11, 2017 – The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) has presented the Francis Asbury Award to 15 individuals and one group from across the U.S. This annual award is supported by the Division of Higher Education at GBHEM and is one of the ways the agency continually strives to enable and resource leadership within the church. This award recognizes and encourages support of higher education and campus ministries within The United Methodist Church.

“Every year, we honor those who have made a significant contribution to developing the churches’ ministries in higher education. These are people who have positively impacted higher education at the local, district or annual conference level of the church,” said Rev. Matthew Charlton, Ph.D., assistant general secretary, Collegiate Ministry at GBHEM.

The 15 individuals honored this year include a university president, campus ministers and chaplains. Notably, this year the Wesley Foundation at Purdue University was recognized as a group in celebration of their 100th anniversary.

Awards were presented to recipients during Annual Conference meetings throughout May and June. Receiving this award is usually a surprise to each recipient. The full list of 2017 honorees is below.

  • Amy Novak, Dakotas Annual Conference
  • Rev. Jane Schlager, California-Nevada Annual Conference
  • Rev. David McMinn, Central Texas Conference
  • Dr. & Mrs. Bennett and Evelyn Horton (posthumous award), Holston Annual Conference
  • Margaret Ray, Pacific Northwest Annual Conference
  • David Askey, Rocky Mountain Annual Conference
  • Ruth Jones, West Michigan Annual Conference
  • Rev. Dr. David McDonald, West Ohio Annual Conference
  • Rev. Tim Stover, Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference
  • Wesley Foundation at Purdue University, Indiana Annual Conference
  • Justin Jamis, Great Plains Annual Conference
  • Rev. David Lowes Watson, Tennessee Annual Conference
  • Rev. Joaquin Garcia, Tennessee Annual Conference
  • Gail Griffith, Mississippi Annual Conference
  • Rev. Dr. James (Jimmy) R. Jeffcoat, Alabama-West Florida Annual Conference
  • Dr. Jennifer Copeland, North Carolina Annual Conference

The award is named for Bishop Francis Asbury, one of the first two bishops of the Methodist Episcopal Church in the U.S., and is based on his admonition to the people called Methodist to erect a school in the vicinity of every church. “We must,” he said, “…give the key of knowledge to your children, and those of the poor in the vicinity of your small towns and villages.”

Francis Asbury Award honorees are nominated by the Annual Conference Boards of Higher Education and campus ministry. They are active in supporting, strengthening and promoting the church’s work in higher education ministries Honorees offer outstanding leadership, above and beyond basic responsibilities, to help bring heightened awareness to the significance of the church’s higher education ministries. To be honored, these applicants must be involved in efforts that agree with the concerns of the Annual Conference Board of Higher Education and campus ministry and the Division of Higher Education at GBHEM.

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About GBHEM: As the leadership development agency of The United Methodist Church, the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry’s mission is to lead and connect the educational and ministerial life of the church. Every elder, deacon and licensed local pastor benefits from our training and candidacy programs. Many young adults find help in clarifying their vocation and God’s call on their lives through our leadership and discernment programs. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook: @GBHEM.

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