Evangelism awards honor 3 Oklahomans


From left are Denman Evangelism Award recipients Trevor Smith, Amy Venable, and Irene Potts, with Bishop Robert Hayes Jr. on stage at the 2013 Annual Conference.

The 2013 Denman Evangelism Award Committee announced three recipients of the prestigious award: Irene Potts, Trevor Smith, and Amy Venable.

The awards were presented May 29 during the Annual Conference business session, at Oklahoma City University’s Freede Center.

  • Irene Potts is an active member of Lawton-First UMC. She teaches Sunday School, leads in worship, and serves many hours as volunteer director for the church’s Celebrate Recovery ministry, which reaches out to those struggling with hurts, habits, and hang-ups.

Among members added across five years, about half have been introduced to First UMC through Celebrate Recovery.

Potts has a passion for sharing how the Christian faith can impact people’s lives in a personal way. She said the large cross necklaces she wears open doors for her to share what God has done in her life.

Recently Potts was instrumental in bringing the movie "Homerun" to Lawton. In the film, an alcoholic ballplayer comes to know God through a Celebrate Recovery program. Through Potts’ efforts, 550 tickets were issued.

  • Trevor Smith is pastor of Sallisaw-First UMC. He writes weekly prayer and study guides to accompany his messages in worship.

He has engaged the congregation in "The Simple Church" model for discipleship, and First UMC has experienced growth both numerically and spiritually. In three years, 36 new members have been received on Profession of Faith.

The Sallisaw church has added a new worship service under Rev. Dr. Smith’s leadership.

Smith also is sought out as an effective speaker for stewardship campaigns and church training events. He has led teams to do mission work in Oklahoma and Mexico.  

  • Amy Venable is pastor of St. Stephen’s UMC in Norman. Since beginning her ministry there in 2007, the church has added 164 new members. She has welcomed a diversity of families.

Rev. Venable provides nurture and care to those who have been hurt or rejected by their religious communities or traditions and who long to "return home," and to those who have left church because of doubt.

Her approach to evangelism is lived out in relationship. She is a strong voice for justice, love, and non-violence both locally and in the wider community; she has spoken out against intolerance and bullying. St. Stephen’s is a community that welcomes all persons as equals and actively practices reconciliation.

Throughout her life, Venable has been involved in mission trips. She also has pedaled to raise funds through FreeWheel, an annual 400-mile bike ride across Oklahoma. 

Janelle Brammer of Claremore chairs the Oklahoma Conference’s award committee.

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