Three are honored for evangelism work with most recent Denman Awards


When the 2020 Memphis Annual Conference took place (virtually) on Sept. 26, 2020, the Harry Denman Evangelism Awards for laity, clergy and youth were announced via video by Rev. Will Clark, pastor of Munford First United Methodist Church in Munford, Tennessee. Clark serves as chair of the Memphis Conference's Denman Award committee.

Clark explained that the Denman award honors Memphis Conference United Methodists whose exceptional ministries of evangelism – expressed in Word (what), Sign (why) and Deed (how) – bring people into life-transforming relationships with Jesus Christ. Read more about the Denman award.

Below is the slightly edited transcript of Clark’s virtual video award announcements on Sept. 26.

Our laity Harry Denman award recipient for 2020 is Carolyn Carneslae. Carolyn is a member of Wesleyan Hills United Methodist Church in the Metro District. It has been said that Carolyn shares her faith in many ways each day, from meeting people and sharing bookmarks that invite persons to church, to having conversations about what Jesus means to her. All of this is while being formed by personal grief and loss in her life; she serves and leads because of it.  Relationships are essential to her ministry. She is constantly connecting, caring, and reaching those who might feel alone or those who have missed church for a while. This work and ministry is essential to the vibrancy and survival of small congregations in our Annual Conference. We celebrate her and her witness. Congratulations Carolyn.

Our clergy Harry Denman award recipient for 2020 is Rev. Laura Ibarra-Hernandez. She is the Hispanic Outreach Ministry Director for the Mississippi River and Purchase Districts in the Memphis Conference. She invests much time, prayer and dedication to this position. To reach out to the Hispanic population, Laura has spoken at churches, read at local libraries, stopped people in Wal-Mart parking lots, and is bold in speaking to anyone who will listen to her as she works to minister to the growing population of Hispanic people in our communities. During the coffee breaks of a a two-hour ESL (English as a second language) class, she leads groups in devotions, asks for prayer requests and guides the members  further along in their faith walks.  They have laid hands on members in distress and prayed healing and Peace of Christ in their lives. This special time in the middle of the classes changes the focus from “community service” to discipleship.  Laura often remains behind after class speaking, ministering and praying with individuals who have special needs. Once the morning classes were going well and members had the opportunity to become comfortable with the group, Laura began a ladies’ Bible study after class. There are eight ladies who became a part of this study about challenges women face today. This is a more intimate opportunity to study God’s word and grow the faith of these ladies who often feel isolated in their communities. The response to this study has been encouraging. Laura’s work is in full accordance with the highest honor and traditions of the Harry Denman Award and the Memphis Annual Conference.

Our youth Harry Denman award recipient for 2020 is Jake Cocke. Innovative, ambitious, intelligent, talented and an inspiration to many -- These are just a few words to describe Jake Cocke. Jake grew up in Braden, Tennessee. He spent many summers from childhood through high school at Lakeshore Camp & Retreat Center in Eva, Tennessee, where he began to find God’s grace in transformative ways. Jake has served as Youth Delegate for Braden United Methodist Church’s Church Council and Annual Conference. Jake motivated the church to bring a camping experience to the community by offering Lakeshore’s DayShore program. He served three terms on the Conference Youth Council (CYC), where he used his voice eloquently to support and empower young people throughout the connection. Jake’s time on CYC was filled with him teaching peers in innovative ways, creatively seeking out people who were not at the table, intentionally and enthusiastically inviting them while having many laughs in between. Jake has offered scripture readings, prayers and even a poem to the Annual Conference. Some were presented in Spanish to better see all the people. We should be proud and honored to be a part of this young man’s story, because it is truly one that extends God’s grace, beauty and love to all. His work is in full accordance with the highest honor and traditions of the Harry Denman Award and the Memphis Annual Conference.