The award nomination period is closed for 2021. We look forward to presenting our awards at our August 11 online event, “Raising Our Voices”! Click here to register. 

Every year United Voices for Children gives three awards to honor extraordinary volunteer service or advocacy efforts on behalf of children, youth and/or families throughout the Northern Illinois Conference.

These awards are:

Any United Methodist member or congregation in Northern Illinois can nominate someone to receive one of these awards. Nominations are received in the winter and early spring and the awards are given at the Northern Illinois Annual Conference in June.

2020 Awardees

Bishop Jesse R. DeWitt Child Advocacy Award

Rev. Gregory Gross, The Night Ministry

The Rev. Gregory Gross is the Director of Mission Fulfillment for the Night Ministry in Chicago. In that role Gregory provides housing, health care, spiritual care and social services to families and individuals experiencing poverty and homelessness, particularly youth.  His work with “The Crib” is particularly notable. This overnight emergency shelter for young adults, ages 18-24, many of them LGBTQ, has become a model for youth shelters across the city and state.  In addition, Rev. Gross has worked as a youth minister in several congregations in Northern Illinois and has served faithfully on conference committees. Throughout his ministry he encourages and lifts young voices, working to create a church that is as welcoming to young persons as it is to older, lifelong members.  Gregory uses his many gifts and graces to ensure that programs which serve the most vulnerable among us—from youth who are homeless and also experiencing racism or discrimination because of their sexual and gender identities, to adults and families with significant unmet needs due to housing  and financial insecurity—create opportunities for human connection and fulfillment. 

Full list of Bishop Jesse DeWitt Child Advocacy Award winners.

Katherine B. Greene Child Worker Award 

Michelle Barton, Trinity UMC Mt. Prospect

Michelle Barton provides extraordinary leadership and support for refugee families seeking asylum in this country through her affiliation with the Facebook Group “6,000 Moms.” Michelle has been a mentor for refugee families, provided assistance with housing, food, employment and transportation as well as assisting families needing to obtain authorization to stay in the U.S.  Michelle regularly lifts up the 6000 Moms group and their efforts in her congregation and offers prayers for families being assisted, so that the names and faces of these families are made real.  Michelle is a public-school teacher who advocates for children and families in many arenas.  She has advocated for the Early Childhood Education program at the College of DuPage; worked on behalf of children in need of domestic adoption; spoken up for children at most risk in her school district as well as for children that are separated from their parents at the Mexican border.  Michelle hears of a need and opens her arms to embrace the person with joyful, welcoming warmth and meet the need.  Michelle gives to others selflessly, regardless of the financial or time commitment, and makes a difference in the lives of many children and families.

Full list of Katherine B. Greene Child Worker Award winners.

Katherine B. Greene Child Worker Award

Rev. Dr. Barbara Javore, North Shore UMC Glencoe

The Rev. Dr. Barbara Javore has served as Director of Children and Family Ministries at North Shore UMC for 26 years.  Deacon Barbara demonstrates remarkable passion for serving children and youth, particularly by thinking of new ways to “meet the youth where they are.”  She recently created a confirmation curriculum drawing on Biblically-based and progressive theology. She designed the curriculum so that the confirmands gathered once a month for an intensive and richly-rewarding time of education, service and fellowship.  Every quarter Deacon Barbara designs a unique worship experience for children and youth that pulls in many young families that engage more peripherally in the congregation and keeps them connected to the congregation. A highlight is the annual Christmas Pageant which plays to a capacity crowd.  Deacon Barbara creatively uses liturgy and visuals to enable children to learn the timeless Biblical narrative of Christ’s birth and to grow in their faith.  Through her ministry children that have remarkable talents are able to shine; those who may have learning disabilities or mental illness find confidence and recognition; and parents who struggle each day to motivate their children receive care and encouragement.

Full list of Katherine B. Greene Child Worker Award winners.



Rev. Margaret Ann Williams Service Award


This award was not given this year. 


Full list of Margaret Ann Williams Service Award winners