Every year, Holston Conference awards the Harry Denman Evangelism Award to a clergy, lay, and youth member dedicated to reaching people for Christ. In 2004, the lay winner was Ronnie Collins.
Today, Collins is the Rev. Collins, associate pastor at First Hillsville United Methodist Church, Wytheville District. He's also chair of the Witness Ministry Team, which has created a new evangelism conference and a subsequent "50 Days of Evangelism" campaign. The team hopes the effort will capture the Denman spirit and put legs on Holston's ongoing "Offer Them Christ" mission.
The Holston Evangelism Conference will be held Feb. 19-20 at Cokesbury Center in Knoxville, Tenn. Speakers include Holston's own Bishop James Swanson and the Rev. Rudy Rasmus, senior pastor at St. John's UMC in Houston, Texas. Rasmus led his congregation from nine members in 1992 to 9,000 today.
Also appearing is the Rev. Bob Pierson, Oklahoma pastor and author of "Needs-Based Evangelism: Becoming a Good Samaritan Church."
Collins said that after he won the Denman award, he "read everything he could find" about the man whose passion was faith sharing.
"It just gave me a burden for lost people," he said. "I hope this conference will do the same for others. This really is a celebration of Harry Denman's life."
"What the Holston Evangelism Conference will help us remember, I pray, is that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever," said the Rev. Amy Rollins Probst, senior pastor at Broadway UMC, Maryville District, and a member of the Witness Team. "The good news of Jesus Christ is the same – even when we have to find new ways to share the old, old story. "
Participants will learn that going door-to-door to invite people to church still works for some, while online social networking can be used to reach others, Collins said. The evangelism conference features an optional "Grace Bags" mission project for Knoxville's homeless.
Following the conference, Holston churches will participate in a 50 Days of Evangelism campaign beginning Easter Sunday, April 4, and concluding on Pentecost Sunday, May 23, with the goal of baptizing 3,000 people. More information will be provided in The Call2 e-news.
Registration fee is $30 per person, with a maximum cost of $100 per church. Information and online registration are available at http://www.holston.org/ministries/connectional-ministries/evangelism-witness/ or call toll-free (866) 690-4060. Registration deadline is Feb. 15.