Annual Awards

Every year United Voices for Children gives awards to honor remarkable ministry 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, congregation, or friend of UVC in Northern Illinois and the Chicagoland area can submit a nomination to receive one of these awards. 

2021 Awardees 


Bishop Jesse R. DeWitt Child Advocacy Award Co-Winner

Rev. Jeremiah Lee, Naperville:Community

Rev. Lee is a youth pastor reaching out to junior and senior high school students at Community UMC in Naperville. He stepped up when he was appointed to CUMC when Deacon Nick Nicholas had to go on a health leave in late 2019. Rev. Lee is an active and engaging youth pastor going beyond to model serving and helping youth in need. He is involved with the Anti-Racism Task Force in the Northern Illinois Conference and he promotes congregational mission and ministry in partnership with Kids Above All in practical and unique ways that seek to make connections to social justice and equity.


Bishop Jesse R. DeWitt Child Advocacy Award Co-Winners

Justice Generation Young Adult Leaders 
Emerson Jordan-Wood
Jennifer Kirkpatrick
Emma Trevor
Nura Zaki
These four young adult leaders have served Justice Generation, a youth ministry initiative for high school students in conjunction with the NIC’s Antiracism Task Force. They pioneered the young adult leader role through Justice Generation during the pandemic, primarily online, with utmost dedication and enthusiasm. Their leadership for this initiative with intent to become an action body for racial justice offers a continued opportunity for young adults to engage in purposeful ministry with great impact. Mixing their professional skills with in this forum, not to mention, their commitment to the UMC, has been exciting and inspiring.

Rev. Margaret Ann Williams Service Award Co-Winner

Carol Risenhoover, Rockford:Centennial 

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.


Rev. Margaret Ann Williams Service Award Co-Winner

Cindy Minju Oh, DeKalb:First

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.