Award Winner Bios

Local Church Heritage Award

Texasville United Methodist Church

Texasville United Methodist Church is located in Texasville, Alabama which is south of Clayton, Alabama.  This church was organized in 1895.  Fire destroyed the first church building in 1923 and many of the early church records were lost.  This did not quench the spirit to rebuild.  Another wood frame building was constructed on the same site and used until 1960.  The brick building used today was dedicated in 1964.

A beautiful scrapbook was presented telling the history of the church.  It also contains the memorials listing the names of the persons who donated the pews.  Each stained glass window is explained and the name of the person memorialized with the donation is listed.  There are newspaper clippings, church bulletins, group pictures of Sunday School Classes and Vacation Bible Schools, and deeds included in the scrapbook

Harry Denman Evangelism Award 

Lay Recipient: Ben and Kristen Wallace, FUMC Dothan

Ben and Kristen have been indispensable in connecting guests and newcomers to small groups, Bible studies, and Sunday School classes. Ben & Kristen are soft-spoken, but their witness is profound in the sheer number of lives they have touched through their hospitality.

At least four young adult couples in the past four years who have been fully integrated into the life and ministry of FUMC because of their friendship with Ben and Kristen. I seriously doubt that these couples would have found another church home elsewhere, but thankfully Ben and Kristen invited them to FUMC and shepherded these couples to find their place in the church. Ben and Kristen demonstrate the power of relational evangelism by their persistent, gentle, timely, and conscientious efforts.

The vitality that they bring to our church is truly wonderful! There have been countless times when Ben and Kristen have met newcomers in the church. They make a wonderful first impression on behalf of our church. This year in 2015 we began a new young adult small group that meets in our young families’ homes. We started this group to help fill a gap in Sunday School participation among young adults. In just a matter of three months after kickoff this group is averaging fifteen attendees under the age of thirty-nine, who beforehand were not previously involved in a Sunday School class or small group. This new small group has become a catalyst for change in our young adult culture at the church and is now the conduit  to introduce new young adults into our church family. The Wallaces have hosted and led portions of the study, and best of all, they have continued to seize hold of this new thing that God is doing, because they keep inviting their friends and acquaintances from their jobs and from their spheres of influence in the Dothan community.


Clergy Recipient: Rurel Ausley, Crosspoint United Methodist Church

Under Rev. Ausley’s leadership 1199 people have joined the church by profession of faith.  For the last 10 years Crosspoint has had an average of 72 professions of faith.  There have been over 100 Professions of faith for the last three years and in 2016 that number could easily approach or even exceed 200.

Under Rev. Ausley’s leadership Crosspoint has grown from an average attendance of 1,000 to nearly 3,900.  In 2013, Crosspoint was recognized as the 12th fastest growing large membership United Methodist Church.  In 2014, they jumped to 9th.  The 2015 report has not yet been released, but Crosspoint will certainly remain one of the fasting growing churches in our denomination.

In the first 4 months of 2016 alone, over 120 people have accepted Christ for the first time.  Revival is happening at Crosspoint and it is due to the leadership of Rev. Ausley who has a heart for the lost and is willing to do whatever it takes to reach them.

But Rev. Ausley’s leadership extends far beyond the local church.  He has spearheaded Crosspoint’s effort to build nearly 50 churches in the Democratic Republic of Congo and has personally made seven trips to the Congo.  The new and expanded church buildings have enabled these local churches to grow exponentially.  One church that only averaged 40 before their new, enlarged church was built now averages 400.  This same kind of growth is being seen in every community where the new facilities are being built.  People are coming to know Christ by the thousands in the Congo through their partnership with Crosspoint.

He has committed his life and his long career in the United Methodist Church, to the singular focus on helping connect people to Christ.  Wherever Rurel has served, he has worked tirelessly to build a church culture that is open and welcoming to “not-yet believers.” Under his leadership, Crosspoint has continuously reached beyond its walls for the sake of the Gospel.


Young Adult Recipient: Riley Newton, Wesley Parrish and Auburn Wesley Foundation

Riley embodies a passion for evangelism through his deep care and Christian love for literally every person he has come into contact with. He also offers his story of transformation in ways that allow others to respond by sharing their story and their hope for something greater. Riley is compassionate, authentic, genuine, and is extremely engaging. The desire to continue to seek Christ is not just something that Riley empowers others to do, but is something he continues to do himself. Ultimately, this has led our churches, our fellowship, our campus, and our extended community to see more clearly a reflection of God's love.

For the last three years, Riley has served in positions of leadership at both Wesley and in the Parish. Riley has made an impact both in people visiting and joining the community of Wesley and the churches, but also with and unmeasurable impact on those he meets around campus during daily life. He was our Freshman Community Leader (April 2014-May 2015).

Led Outreach an Team in a new worship experience focused on evangelism.

Served as Evangelism Chair for Auburn Wesley Leadership and created new methods of outreach that made evangelism part of everyday life for the entire Fellowship. He taught a student Bible study on Evangelism, created an Evangelism Team and a  campus study hall for the purpose of reaching young adults for Christ.

Riley also coordinated community events for the Wesley Parish churches targeting the unchurched and dechurched. Eagerly visited all church visitors and anyone suggested by current church members.

He preached in the Parish churches and through the Conference when asked and served as a resource to several youth groups.

Riley lives out the Christian call to evangelism and the spirit of the Harry Denman Award. This recommendation is also affirmed by the Staff, laity and full community of the Auburn Wesley Foundation and Parish. 

Francis Asbury Award

Dr. Frank Buckner

The Francis Asbury award is awarded by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry to a person in each Annual Conference who has been exemplary in supporting, strengthening, and promoting the church's work in higher education ministries. This person is chosen by each Annual Conference’s Board of Higher Education and Campus Ministries. This year’s recipient of the Alabama-West Florida Conference Francis Asbury Award is Dr. Frank Buckner.

Dr. Buckner currently serves as the Associate Provost for Curriculum and Faculty Development Dean at Huntingdon College. For many year Dr. Buckner served as the chair of the Religion Department and is known as a respected leader and teacher in the areas of theology and philosophy of religion throughout the church and country. Dr. Buckner is an Elder in the Western North Carolina Conference and has touched the lives of countless students in the church. Hundreds of his students are now pastors and local church leaders.

Susannah Wesley Award

Lynn Hamric

Frances Lynn Hamric is a member of Centreville United Methodist Church and has attended there all her life. She has held many offices in the Centreville UMC. She has lead Sunday School Classes, played the piano for worship and other events, worked with United Methodist Women, been the church’s member of the Annual Conference and has assisted the treasurer as Financial Secretary.

In the old Selma District and now in the Demopolis District, Lynn has also been a leader. She has served on District Committees with Mission, Social Issues and sits now on the CORE Team.

The Alabama-West Florida Conference has benefitted by her service in many areas. Lynn has been a member of the Annual Conference from her church, her district and now as the President of the Conference United Methodist Women. She has also served the conference as the Journal Editor. 

Her work with United Methodist Women is legendary. In her local unit her offices have included Secretary, Vice-President, President and as Study Leader in 1968, 1969, 1970. She has also led Mission studies at Trinity UMC in Tuscaloosa (N. AL) for the last 24 years.  The Conference UMW offices she has held include Secretary of Financial Interpretation 1992-1996, Mission Coordinator for Social Concerns 1996-2000 and currently President.

In both Selma & Demopolis Districts, she served as Secretary, Christian Social Involvement, Christian Personhood, Vice-President and President in the years 1972-1990.

She was the 1994 Alabama-West Florida Representative to Assembly Planning Team (Women’s Division) and Conference Representative to Regional School of Christian Mission Planning Committee in 1994-1996. She also served as a Women’s Division Director (2005-2012) and a Director on the General Board of Global Ministries (2009-2012)

In the Conference she has been a member of the Board of Church & Society, also the Conference Board of Global Ministries where she was Secretary, Treasurer and Chair, of the Advance Committee. She has been on the Board of Directors, United Methodist Children’s Home, Genesis House, Annual Conference Planning Committee as Journal Editor, Trustee and Secretary of the Conference Assembly Grounds.

She leads diversity workshops and drug prevention workshops in area schools, works with Boys and Girls Clubs. She is the University of Alabama sponsor for the Golden Key Club and represented Golden Key at the International Conference in Australia in 2015.