Meet the ABHMS 2015 Ministry Award recipients

Committed to encouraging life in Christ, American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS) seeks to affirm and celebrate those who answer the call to discipleship, community and justice, extending the grace of God to others across our nation and world. Therefore, every two years, ABHMS’ board of directors seeks nominations for national ministry awards that recognize and honor American Baptist individuals, churches and organizations for exceptional faithfulness in ministry.

With great joy and pride, ABHMS presents this series to acquaint readers with the recipients of ABHMS’ 2015 Ministry Awards. Please check back, as recipients will be added regularly.

Meet the ABHMS 2015 Ministry Award recipients

fc_ABHMS2015MinistryAwardJanssenDenise_200wAward: Luther Wesley Smith Education Award

Recipient: The Rev. Dr. Denise Janssen

Ministry: Assistant professor of Christian Education, Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology, Virginia Union University, and Judson Press author

Ministry’s significance: Janssen seeks to instill in students a lifelong passion for both learning and teaching. Believing that questions are more helpful and generative than answers, and that pursuing questions can become a meaningful lifelong quest and educational journey, Janssen teaches students the pedagogical skills that result in ever-deepening and broadening faith in their own lives. Janssen seeks to do the same via her Judson Press books “Fostering Faith: Teaching and Learning in the Christian Church” (2014) and “Reclaimed: Faith in an Emerging Generation” (2015).

Ministry’s impact: As a professor, Janssen is helping to mold the next generation of leaders. As an author, Janssen reaches much further, bridging generations to transform people of all ages in Christian faith.

The recipient says: “I was totally surprised by the award. I don’t think of what I do as anything award-worthy. I simply do my best to follow the call of God in my life and carry out this ministry of teaching and publishing for the good of the people of God, both in churches and far beyond.”

fc_ABHMS2015MinistryAwardPattonMarcia_200wAward: Kenneth L. Cober Regional Discipleship Award

Recipient: The Rev. Dr. Marcia Patton

Ministry: Executive Minister of Evergreen Association of American Baptist Churches, headquartered in Kent, Wash.

Ministry’s significance: Patton’s expertise—the educational ministry of the church—is vitally important, whether it’s teaching about the basics of our faith to teaching the world the way of Jesus.

Ministry’s impact: Reaching from Alaska, California and Colorado to Idaho, Utah and Washington state, the Evergreen Association provides resources to equip member churches to share God’s word.

The recipient says: “I am an educator. It is God’s gift—one that I cherish and which gives me delight. During the Mission Summit, I remembered my mentor in education, the Rev. John L. “Bud” Carroll. He saw me doing ministry at First Baptist Church, Salt Lake City, and nurtured me on the road in educational ministries. It was Bud who suggested that regional ministry and area ministry might be the right path for me, which led me to being executive minister of Evergreen. Evergreen shares this award in that we would not be who we are and doing what we do without the work of many in our association. We are doing this extraordinary work of learning together, sharing our insights together and doing discipleship work together. Thank you for nominating me and supporting me in our work.“


Award: Newton C. Fetter Higher Education and Campus Ministry Award

Recipient: The Rev. Dr. John Holzhüter

Ministry: Chaplain at Ottawa (Kan.) University

Ministry’s significance: The Tau (Theology, Action, Understanding) Institute at Ottawa University was inspired by Holzhüter’s ministry—helping youth and young adults engage in urgent contemporary struggles for Christian meaning, identity and engagement in today’s complex world—as well as the ministry of Dr. Roger Fredrikson, namesake of the university’s Fredrikson Center for Faith and Church Vitality.

Ministry’s impact: The ministry impacts organizations and individuals nationwide, by region, with occasional ministry in Asia. In addition to providing pastoral training, the institute offers restorative justice to the poor, frail, elderly and abuse/crime survivors. The institute interfaces with and strengthens faith-based nonprofit agencies, while prompting individuals to question, hone and strengthen their Christian faith. Young Christians nationwide are surveyed in an effort to better understand their faith’s scope and depth.

The recipient says: ““What an honor and a blessing to be recognized for engaging in the joyous work we feel God is calling us to do. We remain stunned.”


Award: Paul W. Strickland Institutional Chaplaincy Merit Award

Recipient: The Rev. Dr. John J. Gleason

Ministries: Retired American Baptist Churches USA (ABCUSA)-ordained minister, who has pastored two Georgia churches; served as an Association of Professional Chaplains-certified clinical chaplain in four U.S. states; taught as an Association for Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE)-certified supervisor in four ACPE regions; ministered as an ABHMS-commissioned missionary as ABCUSA director of Chaplaincy & Pastoral Counseling Ministries/denominational endorsing agent; served as vice president of the Congress on Ministry in Specialized Settings, chair of the Endorsers Council for Veterans Affairs, president of the Missouri Chaplains Association, and Eastern ACPE regional director; founded the ABCUSA Ministers Council for Chaplains and Pastoral Counselors; and authored two books, edited a four-book series and professional pastoral care e-newsletter, and published numerous professional
pastoral care journal articles

Ministries’ significance: Communicating the meaning of the Gospel at the time of individuals’ needs in the previously named ministries, including as a pastor, clinical chaplain and supervisor.

Ministry’s impact: He has baptized approximately 100 souls—including two of his own grandchildren—who have confessed Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. In addition, he has supervised 170 students, interns and residents in ACPE-accredited programs for a total of 207.5 400-hour units.

The recipient says: “I look back over the above statistics and feel grateful beyond words for the opportunities I have had to serve the Lord in these ways. And it was a most pleasant surprise to be granted the Paul W. Strickland Institutional Chaplaincy Merit Award, especially since Paul Strickland was a great mentor and friend to me over the years, as my denominational endorser and encourager.”


Award: Rosa O. Hall Rural and Small Town Award

Recipient: Pastor Sandra Spaulding

Ministries: Bottskill Baptist Church, Greenwich, N.Y., and Lakeville Baptist Church, Cossayuna N.Y.

Ministries’ significance: Both churches are involved in Greenwich Interfaith Fellowship (GIF), a nonprofit community organization that administers a feeding program as well as a program that transports seniors to the food pantry or the supermarket weekly. In addition, GIF volunteers provide no-cost transportation to medical appointments.

Both volunteer at the community’s summer feeding program.

Both collect donations of cash and supplies for August’s community school supply give-away, in which families obtain all types of necessary items.

As part of a committee, Lakeville Baptist seeks to bring a mobile food pantry to Cossayuna—a much-needed service, as 41 percent of residents are below the poverty level.

Ministries’ impact: GIF provides important services to hundreds of individuals yearly.

The summer feeding program allows 80-100 kids to enjoy a nutritious lunch weekdays for seven weeks each summer at Greenwich’s town square. The program also prepares bag lunches for the community’s summer school students.

Bottskill Baptist donates space for many community groups, including an Autism support group, 4H, Girl Scouts of America, Boy Scouts of America, Greenwich School District’s summer fun program and Interfaith Vacation Bible School.

Lakeville Baptist’s “Change for Children” program provides such items as child car seats and strollers to the county’s Head Start program.

The recipient says: “The congregations of both churches are thrilled about the Rosa O. Hall award. This type of attention has helped them to claim the ministry they do as simply part of who they are as something special and important to our denomination as well. This type of connection and support will fuel them as they live out the mission of the gospel in our communities for a long time.”

To view the full list of ABHMS 2015 Ministry Award recipients, see the press release