The 2012 Harry Denman Evangelism Award
Nancy Slabaugh Hart
Nancy has served as a United Methodist pastor for 14 years, including one year as a Full Time Local Pastor, three as a Provisional Elder, and ten as a Full Elder. She has served her present appointment for seven years.
The Stevensville congregation had a long history of changing pastors within a relatively short time, avoiding dealing with some underlying conflicts and wounds. Nancy took part in the Center for Pastoral Effectiveness two year training and sought coaching and support to help them work through an unhealthy pattern. Her appointment there is now the longest of record, and the congregation has bloomed. In 2011, 26 new people became members. The congregation contributed over $20,000 in mission support to their wider community besides fulfilling 100% of their apportionment share. Forty-nine of their members were involved in hands on ministry in their community. They currently have 14 small groups meeting for a variety of purposes including study and service.
Every newsletter brims with excitement about their active involvement in service and outreach. The spirit in worship has been transformed from visible congregational conflict to newfound joy and hope.
Nancy brings many personal gifts to her ministry, especially music and creative writing. She does not dominate others through the use of her gifts, but utilizes them to celebrate and empower the gifts of others. She will be utilizing her worship leadership skills at Western Jurisdiction Conference this summer. Nancy lives out her call to ministry through a deep, faithful and creative spiritual foundation grounded in the love of God given through Jesus Christ. This shines out most especially in her passionate relationships to others in her community and beyond. She inspires others to hear and respond to their call to be followers of Jesus and helps them discern what that call means for them. She has mentored several people into vocational ministry, and many more into a sense of full time ministry no matter what their profession. God’s love flows honestly through her.
The 2012 Harry Denman Evangelism Award
Sue’s passion for sharing the good news of the love of Jesus Christ continues to grow and evolve as she finds new opportunities everywhere she goes. From the streets of San Diego to the back roads of Montana’s Indian reservations, to dusty villages in East Angola, she finds ways to invite others into renewed faith and helps them find ways to share it.
Six years ago, Sue was a professor of hydrology at Montana State University in Bozeman. She was a very active laywoman in her local church, including supporting a new church start in that community. She was exploring a call to ministry and she still is…living it out in many ways as a lay person and now as our first Certified Lay minister. Sue led a mission team to Angola and not only developed water systems, but built communication systems that have empowered the Yellowstone Conference to be directly partnered with pastors in the East Angola Conference, regularly supporting their salaries. She worked for a time for Cal-Pac coordinating their volunteers in mission and disaster response teams, among other ministries. Three years ago she returned to Yellowstone as our Director of Connectional Ministries. She was an absolute whirlwind of energy, stirring up committees and boards all over the place and spurring on new organization and energy especially around new lay led ministries.
A year ago she became the coordinator of a new, intensive lay training program called “New Places for New Faces” or “NP4NF.” Twenty six people across Montana have taken part in a year long process enabling some to become Certified Lay Ministers, some to start new faith communities, and some to begin new ministries within their existing congregations. We will be blessing those participants at our annual conference this summer.
As she finishes this first year of NP4NF, Sue herself will become a Certified Lay minister, among the first in our conference. She is working with a congregation along Montana’s “highline” to build a new worshiping community as she works as a professor again. We have all been blessed by the energy, insight and faith God gives us through Sue.