Margaret Ann Williams Service Award

Rev. Daniel Lee (2022)

At the beginning of his tenure as Director of Youth Ministries at Gary United Methodist Church and the onset of the Covid-19 Pandemic, Daniel could not meet with youth, parents or staff in person, or come into the church. He had to learn about the youth programs and find new and unique ways to meet, interact, and lead youth programs. He started a Youth Council, adapted past programs, and changed mission plans and trips. He has managed interactions in amazing ways and empowers the junior high and senior students in developing a deeper relationship with Christ. Dan establishes activities for youth and integrates these programs into the total church. Dan understands the individual differences in youth and how they relate to others. He motivates, teaches, and has fun with the youth. He sings and plays the guitar.

Cindy Minju Oh, DeKalb: First UMC (2021)

As a high school junior, Cindy was a passionate participant in Justice Generation and serving with their young adult leaders. She assisted in organizing a 10,000 free mask distribution to low-income families through a Korean company; participated in school as a tutor; and is an Amazing Grace with Peace Movement Founder to increase awareness around the Korean border that separates families. She also founded Asiadentity to empower the voices and the identities of Asian children, youth, and community.

Carol Risenhoover, Rockford: Centennial UMC (2021)

Carol directed, managed, and scheduled educators and volunteers for a Saturday Kids Club (SKC). She coached, led training, and promoted children advocacy at her church and in the community of Rockford. Carol advocates for resources and meals for the program; has led fundraisers, planning and implementation of events and activities. Moreover, she volunteered for 27 years for SKC.

Sharonda King, Christ the Carpenter UMC Rockford (2019)
Praise Dance Ministry

Sharonda King joined Christ the Carpenter UMC in Rockford as a teenager and has been a faithful presence and leader in the congregation ever since.  She served as a junior usher and as a lead singer in the choir.  She also was part of a weekly Christian-based activities night, where her spirit and energy helped the pastor provide inspiration for the 20-30 children and youth attending.  From a young age she has been a role model for other young persons.  Now a single mom with two children in preschool and another starting high school, she works two jobs and still finds time to lead two praise dance teams.   The younger team has 10-12 members who are three to five years of age.  And the Anointed Movement team consists of 5-7 teenagers.  Sharonda has organized two city-wide praise dance concerts.  She has instilled a spiritual discipline and desire to give praise to God in these children and youth.    

Licia Knight, St. Mark UMC Chicago (2018)
Children’s Church & SVH Dance Ministry

Licia Knight is a lifelong member of St. Mark UMC.  She was actively involved in church activities and leadership through her childhood and youth, eventually serving as the young adult representative to the Church Council.  Almost 25 years ago, Licia proposed and founded a Children’s Church.  Under Licia’s faithful leadership, Children’s Church has become an integral part of the ministry at St. Mark with hundreds of children participating and receiving the foundations of their Christian faith. Licia has provided assistance to the St. Mark Liturgical Dance Ministry since its founding; her daughter was one of the original six dancers. Licia was an active parent helping with choreography, rehearsals and performances. When the founder Shirley Hobson died in 2009, Licia stepped in as coordinator and has enabled the ministry to grow to more than 40 youth and adult dancers in four troupes of different ages and abilities. She emphasizes the spiritual aspects of worship and praise among the dancers, making this one of the most impactful ministries of the congregation. Licia currently serves as the Church Treasurer and a valued member of the Finance Committee.  Through the whole of her life and ministry she has demonstrated a heart for children and youth and has worked tirelessly to provide opportunities for them to grow in faith and in the love of the Lord.

Darryl Wertheim, Faith UMC Orland Park (2016)
Youth Sports Programs

Since Darryl Wertheim became head of the Athletic Committee for Faith UMC in 2012, the Youth Sports Programs have grown from six participants to well over 100. From the beginning Darryl set out to create a variety of activities for children, ages 4-14, to encourage physical activity, team play and sportsmanship as well as learning athletic skills. His first project was the Faith Falcons basketball team to develop skills for junior high school basketball players in the church as well as in to younger children. The Youth Sports Program has now expanded to include soccer and baseball activities. Darryl’s gift is that he brings such a positive attitude and encourages children of all skill levels and abilities to participate in these programs. His mission is to provide an environment for youth to learn, grow and have fun. Darryl recruits other adults who share his love for youth sports to serve as coaches and mentors. All of the programs are “child safe” as all of the adults who supervise children are “safe sanctuary” trained and approved. Darryl has been instrumental in guiding Faith UMC to open its doors to families in the community by inviting and encouraging their participation in the Youth Sports Programs. These families are developing bonds with and trust in the Faith congregation because of the faithful, loving and gracious leadership that Darryl provides for their children.

Carla R. Williams (2015)
Maple Park UMC, Chicago

Carla R. Williams is a member of the Maple Park United Methodist faith community serving the people of the West Pullman community of Chicago’s south side. She has more than 30 years of child care experience. Carla’s passion for children is both her vocation and occupation. Carla is the Director of Maple Park’s Safe Haven program. She also serves as the Co‐Leader of Maple Park’s Kids ROCK Children’s ministry which serves the children and families of both church and community. Kid’s ROCK is the recipient of a 2015 United Methodist Development Fund grant. Carla is a champion for children by regularly challenging the Maple Park congregation to advocate on their behalf.  Carla has been a licensed child care provider since 1996. She has owned and operated Angels in Training Childcare which received Star Level 3 ranking from the Illinois Department of Human Service in 2011. She has served as a mentor for Illinois Action for Children and as Vice President for The Caring Providers Association. Carla is a recipient of the Gateways to Opportunity scholarship. She is currently working toward her Bachelor of Arts degree in Early Childhood education at National Louis University and was inducted in June 2015 as a member of the National Honor Society of Leadership and Success. Carla is the mother of two adult sons.

Rev. Margaret Ann Williams (2014)
Maple Park UMC Chicago

Rev. Margaret Ann Williams, former Associate Executive Director of Church Relations at Marcy Newberry, is the first recipient of an award named in her honor. This award was created to honor her 33 years on the United Voices for Children Board of Directors, including a term as President. She has spent a lifetime of giving back and her tireless work has served as an example to many. Rev. Williams’ dedicated service has influenced the lives of children, the church and community for nearly 50 years. Rev. Williams, affectionately known as M.A.W., is a member of the Maple Park UMC in Chicago. Henceforth, may future award recipients model her “Joy of Serving” within the Northern Illinois Conference community.