TURLOCK, Calif. – When Joann Quinley, God and Country counselor for First UMC in Turlock, handed out awards to a record 31 Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Brownies, and Girl Scouts this month she had no clue that she was about to be called to the dais herself. But that’s just what happened. Following presentation of awards earned in God and Me, God and Family, and God and Church programs, church leaders surprised Quinley with an award of her own in appreciation for her six years of training young people.
At the conclusion of the God and Country ceremony, church pastor, the Rev. Dave Thompson, asked Quinley to remain in the front of the sanctuary. Gary Mallory then announced that Quinley had been nominated by the church’s UM Men organization to receive a Cross and Flame Award – an honor approved by the Nashville-based General Commission on UM Men.
The Cross and Flame Award honors adult leaders who have given at least five years of exceptional service to programs for young people. Nominations must be approved by the pastor and the administrative board of a church before being submitted.
“I don’t know when I’ve been more surprised or honored than when I received the Cross and Flame Award,” said Quinley, who now has trained 81 young people in the God and Country program sponsored by Programs of Religious Activities with Youth (P.R.A.Y.), based in St. Louis.
The God and Country program helps young people develop a deeper relationship with God and helps them to understand how God is active in their lives and in the world around them. It is a Christian education resource that uses Bible lessons paired with service projects to help young people grow in Christian faith – and also to express that faith by reaching out in love and in service to others.
Quinley is a 45-year member of First UMC. She served as the church’s youth director for five years, beginning in 1974, during which time the number of young people attending increased from 10 per week to more than 50. She has also served on numerous committees and held offices in UM Women. Quinley worked with Heifer International from 1979 to 2005, and traveled to many Third World countries to promote agricultural development programs. She has served on the Modesto, California Girl Scout Executive Board for three years.
(Reported by the Rev. J. Richard Peck, a retired clergymember of New York Conference and Communications Director for the General Commission on United Methodist Men.)