Remarks made by Bishop Warner H. Brown, Jr. when presenting the third Bishop's Award at 2013 Annual Conference Session, Friday, June 21, 2013.
In the 10th Chapter of Luke, the story of the Good Samaritan when the lawyer asks Jesus, "Who is my neighbor?" Jesus answers him, "The one who showed mercy," and commands the lawyer to "go and do likewise." Here is another story of "See what you have, See your neighbors too."
This morning, we honor the wonderful example of the power of lay people living a life immersed in God, following Jesus, and open to the Spirit using them for the good of all God's people.
This couple believed that Methodism had an important contribution to make in the area where they lived. The only problem, there was no United Methodist church. Rather than sit back and wait for something to happen, they worked tirelessly to help create a United Methodist Church in their community.
Once the church became organized, they were key leaders in it and were active in forming many of its outreach ministries. They led several adult study groups through the years, often ecumenical in scope including participants from other faith groups in the community. They called their efforts "Justice Matters," a play on words emphasizing that the topics discussed ranged all over the area of justice in the world, and that justice is something of great importance to people of faith.
She went on to become a conference trainer for radical hospitality. She has said that radical hospitality is less about increasing attendance numbers than it is about the potential for transforming lives. He has served as the president of the District Extension Society and was instrumental in helping the society to revision how funds could be used to support church vitality and not just pay for roofs and buildings. He also served multiple terms as a board member for Sierra Service Project.
My brothers and sisters, the couples who wanted to see their neighbors reached in the name of Methodism are Ken and Debbie Gudger of New Community United Methodist Church in Oakhurst. The church recently celebrated the 10th anniversary of their chartering on Palm Sunday 2003, and these are two people whose vision and hard work made that new-church start a reality.