ABHMS announces ministry award recipients

VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 5/3/17)—Selected by American Baptist Home Mission Societies’ (ABHMS) board of directors from nominations submitted by clergy and laypersons across the United States and Puerto Rico, a number of American Baptist clergy and lay leaders will receive awards for significant faith-based work. Presentation times and dates will be announced as they become available.

“American Baptists continue to impact the United States of America as spiritual and moral leaders, as messengers of the Good News and disciple-makers, and as healers, peace-makers and justice seekers. ABHMS is proud to announce these ministry awards, which highlight the valuable contributions of diverse Baptists to the mission in America in various fields of endeavor,” says ABHMS Executive Director Dr. Jeffrey Haggray.

  • The Rev. Dr. Wayne E. Croft Sr., senior pastor at St. Paul’s Baptist Church, West Chester, Pa., will receive the Edwin T. Dahlberg Peace and Justice Award for outstanding work for peace and justice. A community activist, Croft has impacted the Black Lives Matter, Blue Lives Matter and All Lives Matter movements. In 2016, he organized “A Dialogue between Law Enforcement and a Citizen,” which helped to inform 16 best practices for police-involved shootings and helped to inform statewide guidelines. He organized a “Post Racial Society” forum at West Chester University and organized early release of the movie “Selma” in his community, followed by community conversations.
  • The Rev. Dr. Stephen Hre Kio, senior pastor of Indiana Chin Baptist Church, Indianapolis, will receive the Suzan Johnson Cook Religious Freedom Award for leadership in defending God-given religious liberty for all. He is active in the International Chin Baptist Mission, sponsored by Chin Baptist Churches USA. While a consultant with Asia Pacific Bible Consultants, Guam, he helped Chins who fled to Guam to escape persecution in Myanmar. He advocated for and received from the federal government $600 monthly for Chin refugees’ rent and food. He helped refugees find worship places.
  • Barbara Anderson, founder and president of the nonprofit Arlington, Mass.-based “All Hands In,” will receive the Jitsuo Morikawa Evangelism Award for outstanding leadership in holistic evangelism. The organization provides educational awareness about human trafficking, provides safe events for survivors, operates a store that sells survivor-crafted items, and seeks to open a residence in Boston for female survivors. She served as president of American Baptist Women’s Ministries and presented for American Baptist Women of Massachusetts during the “Break the Chains” campaign.
  • The Rev. Darin Collins, pastor at Berean Baptist Church, Harrisville, R.I., will receive the Rosa O. Hall Rural and Small Town Award for exceptional effectiveness in rural or small town ministry. He coordinates an annual event that provides 10,000 meals to area food banks; holds worship services outside the church; provides assistance with utility expenses; and offers counseling for drug addiction and identity acceptance. When a transgender teen recently came out to the congregation, the church’s Inclusion Team led the community in a series of conversations about transgender youth and held a “naming ceremony” for the congregant.
  • The Rev. Dr. Morris Stimage-Norwood, senior pastor of the thriving Greater New Life Christian Center (GNLCC), Springfield, Mass., will receive the Edward H. Rhoades Urban Ministry Award for exceptional effectiveness in urban ministry. GNLCC, which he planted in 2002, owns three Christ-centered sober homes, operates a state-licensed substance abuse and mental health clinic, and partners with police to offer vocational training to at-risk teens. When he was project director for church rebuilding with the National Coalition of Burned Churches, he traveled nationwide to help churches rebuild after arson.
  • The Rev. Dr. Anthony Pappas and the Rev. Dr. Bruce Bardon, co-founders of The American Baptist Churches of Massachusetts (TABCOM) School of Ministry, will receive the Richard Hoiland Local Christian Education Award for faithful, effective leadership in Christian education. Both Pappas and Bardon have spent countless hours praying, visioning, outlining and developing the school to serve laity who have neither the time nor the money to attend seminary and to serve small churches that are increasingly unable to afford seminary-trained clergy. Students meet six times yearly for instruction, complete homework independently throughout the year and participate in an annual summer internship.
  • The Rev. Eric Kraihanzel, a professor in the Youth Ministry department at Eastern University, St. Davids, Pa.; regional pastor for Student Ministries with American Baptist Churches of Pennsylvania and Delaware (ABCOPAD); and director of Camp Ichthus, Palmerton, Pa., will receive the Luther Wesley Smith Education Award for faithful, effective leadership in strengthening Christian education at an American Baptist-related college or seminary. He has created a webinar series funded by a grant he wrote, a youth camp Summer Leadership Corps, and Eastern’s summer internship program that interfaces with ABCOPAD churches and camps.
  • The Rev. Dr. Dalton Said, pastor of First Baptist Church (FBC), New Bedford, Mass., and TABCOM’s liaison for Portuguese-speaking churches, will receive the Kenneth L. Cober Regional Discipleship Award for faithful, effective leadership in discipleship education in an American Baptist region. Under his leadership, FBC has adopted a multilingual, multicultural service. He has taught in TABCOM’s School of Ministry; the Latin American Biblical University, Costa Rica; two Brazilian Baptist seminaries accredited by TABCOM; and Providence (R.I.) Bible Institute. Fluent in English, Spanish and Portuguese, he has pastored a church in Brazil.
  • Dr. Brett H. Smith, pastor of University Baptist Church, Champaign, Ill., and director of the Baptist Student Foundation for the University of Illinois, will receive the Newton C. Fetter Higher Education and Campus Ministry Award for significant innovation in campus ministry. Under Smith’s leadership, the foundation—which provides Christian housing to 90 undergraduate and graduate students—has improved its mission and become debt-free. He is also a resident lecturer in Pastoral Ministry at Urbana Theological Seminary, Champaign. He has been a pastor of Campus Ministry and a pastor of young adults.
  • Dr. Delois Brown-Daniels, vice president for Mission and Spiritual Life at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center, Chicago, will receive the Paul W. Strickland Institutional Chaplaincy Merit Award for faithful and effective pastoral and spiritual care in an institutional setting, such as a hospital or college. She established the Spiritual Life department and the medical center’s Clinical Pastoral Education program. She continues to serve as a mentor to chaplains. One of the first African-American women certified as an educator with Association for Clinical Pastoral Education, she twice organized its Racial Ethnic Multicultural Network Annual Meeting in Chicago.
  • Chaplain Col. William Sean Lee, Joint Force Headquarters chaplain for the state of Maryland and co-pastor with his wife of Calvary Baptist Church, Towson, Md., will receive the Lorraine K. Potter Military Chaplaincy Merit Award for faithful and effective pastoral and spiritual care in the U.S. military. As chaplain, he created Partners in Care, which assists left-behind family members with chores and household repairs. As pastor, he preaches every Sunday and conducts Bibles study every Wednesday. He sends care packages and notes of encouragement to an American Baptist military chaplain deployed in Iraq.
  • Rev. Elizabeth Ritzman, director of the Wellness Center at Dominican University, River Forest, Ill., and a counselor in private practice, will receive the Carolyn M. Piper Pastoral Counseling Merit Award for faithful and effective pastoral counseling. Following the Psychodynamic Approach, Ritzman assists individuals and couples with wholeness, authenticity and conflict resolution, allowing them to become who God fully created them to be. She is president of the Chaplains and Pastoral Counselors Ministers’ Council. She has conducted counseling for the AIDS Pastoral Care Network.
  • M. Ingrid Dvirnak, an American Baptist author and editor, will receive the Judson Press Ministry Award for commitment to excellence in publishing ministry. She has authored two Judson Press books and an ABHMS book. She edits The Secret Place devotional quarterly, creates online workshops for ABHMS’ Church Life & Leadership series, and writes leader’s guides for Judson Press books. She has previously edited The Baptist Leader and has both written and edited Judson Bible Journeys adult study curriculum.

For more information about the awards, contact ABHMS’ Dr. Jeffrey Johnson at [email protected] or 800.222.3872, x2406.

American Baptist Home Mission Societies partners with American Baptists in answering God’s call to promote Christian faith across the United States and Puerto Rico to cultivate Christ-centered leaders and disciples, and heal and transform communities, by developing aligned action networks and programs.

American Baptist Churches is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with over 5,200 local congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.