Award Recipient Bios

Harry Denman Award Recipients

Denman Award Lay Recipient, Cameron Winton

Cameron Winton has been on staff at Woodlawn United Methodist Church since 2003. Her staff responsibilities have changed over the years, beginning as a Part-time Youth Minister, to Full-time Youth Minister, to Celebrate Recovery Director, to Director of Growing Deep Ministries. 

Cameron began serving at Woodlawn in 2003, as a Part-time Youth Minister, then moved into a Full-time Youth Minister position. 

Cameron implemented a very successful Celebrate Recovery Ministry and served in CR leadership, while continuing to serve as the Youth Minister. This was a very demanding position that required participation every week of the year, as well as, personal ministry with an on-call responsibility. She was especially adaptive at being available to people at all times. She has dealt with all kinds of people with addictions and she has showed them grace and hope, and with dignity has shown them the love of Jesus Christ.

Because of her heart for people, she has recently become the Director of Growing Deep Ministries, which is the Minister to Small Group, Discipleship and Evangelism. She is the key person involved in responding to our prospective members and has created and implemented a newly required Woodlawn Way class in order to join the church. Under her leadership, 50% of over the 100 people that join each year, have joined on Profession of Faith as new Christians. She has overseen these new members as they take a gifts test and join a small group. The number of members in the overall church who have begun to participate in small groups to study God’s Word, and in service to put their faith into action has increased under her leadership. She is also helping the laity to grow and flourish and to take on more responsibility themselves.

She also oversees the Mission Ministry of the church. She led a team from the church to Belize earlier this year. 

She is actively involved in teaching many Growth Courses and preaching in our various services. She is a team player who does not serve for her own benefit, but for the benefit of others and the Kingdom of God.

Cameron is a genuine Christian who has a heart for people. She has also served in the past on staff in the area of counseling and has a degree that qualifies her to do so. People are drawn to Cameron. Everybody wants to talk things through with her. She is the go-to person if you have a problem, ministry need, or a family member/friend in trouble. She is great at networking and helping you find someone who can be resource for you. She always exhibits leadership through her personal faith in Jesus Christ. She is involved in accountability groups and constantly working to improve in the area of faith, mission, and ministry. Cameron is not only leading people to Christ, she is also discipling them, and teaching others to do so as well.

Cameron is passionate about her heart for people and for the transforming power of God’s love through Jesus Christ in their lives.

Cameron is a natural evangelist. Her winsome personality and sense of humor, along with her knowledge and skill set, allows her to minister to a wide variety of people whether she is dealing with youth, young adults, senior adults, people involved in mission, those involved with Celebrate Recovery, those who are far from God, as well as those who are new Christians, and those who are eagerly beginning or continuing in the process of discipleship, as well as those who need counsel. 

Denman Award Clergy Recipient, Rev. German Gomez

German Gomez has served San Juan Mission as a Local Pastor, since 1999. He is a Missionary of the General Board of Global Ministries and the National Plan of Hispanic-Latino Ministries, in our AWF Conference. 

German was born in Cuitlahuae, Veracruz, Mexico. he is married to Leticia and they have 3 children, Aarendy, Irais, and Aaron. German came to the States at a young age and his testimony is that he came to the make money and to work. Little did he know that God was going t use him abundantly, because German came to accept Jesus Christ here in Centerville UMC, with Rev. Dan Nixon. 

German started San Juan Mission in Clanton UMC. Five year ago Rev. Larry Anderson and the leadership team helped the Hispanic-Latino Ministries have a place to worship. 

From San Juan Mission that started in 1999, the following new congregations have spun off: Alfa and Omega, in Wetumpka, El Lugar de Gracia, in Mobile, Casa de oration, in Jemison and Calera, One mission of San Juan in Veracruz, Mexico, and a new outreach mission in Montgomery.

German has a heart and the gifts to make disciples for Christ who make disciples for Christ.


Denman Award Youth Recipient, Sydney Wilson

Sydney Wilson has been a full member of the Millbrook First United Methodist Church for 2 years since her confirmation in 2013. She grew up in Millbrook First United Methodist Church and is a very active participant within the youth ministry and servant in the church. Sydney is the kind of student that is always looking for ways to serve others and let them know that Jesus loves them. She sings in the youth praise band and in the adult choir on special occasions, serves as an acolyte, volunteers in the children’s ministry and in the nursery, and is always bringing new friends to church. Over the past year, she has brought 24 teenagers to church with her. 7 of those students made first time professions of faith, were baptized, and joined the church.

Sydney has been on two mission trips and is registered for another one this summer. She spends one weekend a month serving at the church with Joy for Johnny (our church’s ministry for people with disabilities) and a week of her summer serving at VBS. She is actively involved in the Bible club at her high school and helps out at the Bible club at the middle school. She has served others at the local food pantry, the local nursing homes, and the prison ministry. She also plays softball and plays the clarinet in the marching band at the high school where she will serve as the student chaplain in the fall. I believe Sydney will enter some kind of Christian ministry by the time she graduates. She is only in the 9th grade right now and is already making a huge impact for the advancement of God’s kingdom. She certainly has a bright future ahead of her regardless of what vocation she enters into and will continue to be a tremendously gifted and invaluable member of the Church.


Local Church Heritage Award Recipients

Local Church Award, Fairview United Methodist Church

Fairview United Methodist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, held their 100th Anniversary Celebration this year.  Every event this year was celebrated in some way as their special anniversary year.  Fairview UMC held a revival featuring "The Cobb Family" in early August.  On August 31, 2014, they observed their anniversary with a "100th Birthday Party."  Their "Homecoming" was remembered on September 21, 2014, with their previous pastor, Rev. Gary Miller.  The church used this special year as a time to gather past history, remember pastors who previously served, and anticipate their future.

Local Church Award, Bradford's Chapel United Methodist Church

Bradford's Chapel United Methodist Church in Tuskegee, Alabama,  held their "Homecoming Celebration" on September 28, 2014.  There were beautiful decorations, special music, and singing.  As folks gathered at the church a slide show was playing with pictures from Bradford Chapel's past.  Several people, both children and adults, dressed in period clothes to enjoy family and friends.  The youth even presented a special dance.  Rev. Walter Albritton returned to Bradford's Chapel to join in the fellowship and deliver the sermon.  After a wonderful service and luncheon guests were invited to have their pictures made in front of a horse drawn carriage, a Model-A car or some vintage trucks.  This very active church created a beautiful scrapbook to remember their festivities.  


Francis Asbury Award Recipient

The Rev. Sheila B. Bates joined the Collegiate Ministry office of the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry as the Director of Faith and Leadership Formation on May 11, 2015. A certified candidate in the Alabama-West Florida Annual Conference, Bates has served as a youth pastor in Alpharetta, Ga., and since 2010, has been director/campus minister at Tuskegee University in Tuskegee, Ala.

Entrepreneurial and innovative in spirit, Bates has revitalized United Methodist campus ministry at Tuskegee University, growing the Wesley Foundation in number, variety of programming, and overall vitality. Among many accomplishments at Tuskegee, Bates developed a board of directors, developed Merit and Academic book scholarships and a benevolence fund, and was awarded $20,500 in grants for various service initiatives. She also has been a board member for the AL-WFL Board of Higher Education and Ministry since 2012.

Bates is a graduate of UM-related Gammon Theological Seminary (MDiv, ’10) in Atlanta, Ga., and is certified in Clinical Pastoral Education. She has previously collaborated with the Collegiate Ministry office at GBHEM as a Conference Design Team member for Imagine What’s NEXT 2014 in Denver, Colo., and NEXT 2012 in St. Louis, Mo. Bates was a facilitator and Think Tank leader at GBHEM’s Prepare and Summer Institute, two events for collegiate ministry development, in 2014, as well.


Alice Lee Award Recipient

Helen Edwards embodies John Wesley’s Theology; Faith, Grace and Works!  She has used her gifts of love, wisdom, drive, intelligence, determination and passion to serve the church, her family, brothers and sisters in Christ and well as numerous communities. Helen Edwards has always said that you cannot make things better if you are not willing to be a part of the solution.

It all began in 1962; she and Earl Edwards were married and are still married (they will celebrate 53 years on June 7th). That in itself is a testimony of faith and commitment for all. In 1963 they had their first child, a healthy son Derrick. In 1965 she and Earl lost twin daughters due to a birth defect (something that a Fetal Heart monitor would have picked up had there been one at the hospital in Selma at the time). Due to the great loss, Helen and Earl began volunteering with the March of Dimes immediately and almost within a year to the date; there was a Fetal Heart Monitor in the hospital! That is works, for those without a voice.

Helen knew then God was calling her. It was just the beginning of a journey that would lead her down a road for 32 years of first volunteering and then to part-time, finally to a career as the Executive Director of the March of Dimes, in the West Central Chapter and Special Events Coordinator for numerous states.    

Not only was Helen taking on such an incredible job with the March of Dimes; helping these beautiful babies, children and parents. She was a mother of now two healthy, active children; as well as a very active church member at Church Street in Selma, Alabama.

Helen served on just about every church committee over a number of years. Many of those she served as vice chair or Chair including the Council on Ministries, and UMW, to name a few. But then Helen decided to break the glass ceiling in Selma, at Church Street UMC in the late nineties. She became the first ever female Chairperson of the Administrative Board from 1999-2001.  

As she continued to work full time, raise her family with Earl, serve in the church, she still knew that God was calling her to do something else on her journey. After she retired from The March of Dimes in 1998, she received a proclamation from the Governor and the day was deemed Helen Edwards’ Day in the city of Selma to recognize all the incredible, selfless work that she had done for others throughout all the years.

After a brief moment of retirement, Helen knew she was ready to work again but in a different way… this time it was in the conference. Over the last 15 years our conference has seen Helen Edwards’ hands, feet, heart, soul, strength, mind, body, grace, faith, work, and LOVE in Conference Trustees, Council on Ministries, now the CORE TEAM; on the District and Conference levels, the Episcopacy committee; on the District and Conference levels. Helen has been involved with the Lay Speaking (Now Lay Servants Ministries) as a speaker and now she is the Alabama-West Florida Conference Director of Lay Servant Ministries and is serving as the Southeastern Jurisdictional President of Lay Servants Ministries.


Susanna Wesley Award Recipient

Ruth Ann Powers is a native of Fremont; Nebraska.  She grew up in Phenix City, Alabama, and graduated from Chattahoochee Valley Community College (A.A.) and from Columbus College, now Columbus State University (B.A.).  Ruth Ann has served as United Methodist Women's president for the conference and served as a director with the Women's Division of the General Board of Global Ministries and the GBGM. She has led several studies at Regional and Conference Schools of Christian Mission, now Mission u, and has served on the Alabama-West Florida Conference School of Christian Mission Planning Teams along with serving as Dean.

Always interested in world missions, she worked with a mission team from her local church in Oaxaca, Mexico from 1988 to 1994 to build a Methodist Church, played with children during VBS and met with Methodist women there. In 1996, she traveled to The Democratic Republic of Congo (then Zaire) where she lived and worked with children who were refugees from Rwanda.  "It was my most life changing experience ever," she states.

In her local community, Ruth Ann organized a shelter for battered women that eventually included rape crisis response and victim's advocacy.  She served as Board Chair and then Executive Director of the program until 2006.  From 1989-1999 she served as a volunteer for the Department of Human Resources in Russell County where she coordinated Christmas sponsors for foster children and served on the DHR QA committee.  In addition, she serves on a mediation board for first time juvenile offenders, has chaired the board of the Phenix City-Russell County Library and is a certified reading tutor and tutor trainer.  She trains literacy tutors in several counties in Alabama and Georgia.  She also teaches English as a second language.   She currently chairs the Children's Policy Council for Russell County.

Ruth Ann's hobbies include sewing, needlework, reading and travel.  She has two Granddaughters, Mary Casey and Isabelle.