Connecting Columbia Union Seventh-day Adventists

Columbia Union Recognizes Five Persons With a New Award

Story by Taashi Rowe/Visitor


Pictured below: Dave Weigley, Columbia Union Conference president, presents Joyce Newmyer, Washington Adventist Hospital president, with the Notable Person of Honor award.

At year-end meetings last week, five Columbia Union Conference members were recognized for their contribution to the cause of Christ during a special luncheon held in their honor. This new award, called Notable Persons of Honor, spotlighted Joyce Newmyer, president of Washington Adventist Hospital in Takoma Park, Md.; Larry Boggess, president of the Mountain View Conference; José H. Cortés, president of the New Jersey Conference; Josephine Benton, a retired pastor; and Weymouth Spence, president of Washington Adventist University in Takoma Park.

“Thank you for your contribution to the cause of Christ,” Dave Weigley, president of the Columbia Union, said to the honorees. “You've made a difference.”

Ken Denslow, assistant to the president of the North American Division, followed with a short devotional. “People who have grasped the legacy of hope speak up and make a difference in their communities,” he said. “So why not take the opportunity to thank people during their living years for the work they did to advance the legacy of hope in the Seventh-day Adventist Church? We thank you for your faithfulness.”

Honoree Joyce Newmyer joined the Adventist HealthCare team in August 2009 as the chief operating officer of Washington Adventist Hospital and became the president of the hospital at the beginning of 2011.

“Under her leadership, Washington Adventist Hospital has substantially advanced our agenda of excellent patient care and exceptional patient experience, has built a highly engaged employee team and medical staff and has done so despite the challenges that the aging hospital facility presents,” said Rob Vandeman, Columbia Union executive secretary.

After receiving her award, Newmyer shared that when she was a little girl, she told her mom that she wanted to work for the church. Her mom responded by telling her that she only had only two choices, to be a teacher or a nurse. “I’m glad to be a part of the Columbia Union Conference where moms don’t have to tell their little girls that anymore,” she said. “It’s a privilege to work in a place where we make a difference every day. And, I wanted to let you know that we do consider [our work] ministry.”

Vandeman shared that Boggess, the next honoree, “was always searching for new methods to reach people. Elder Boggess has an open door policy and his vision and planning has been to encourage and train lay members to become successful, active witnesses so the church may grow.”

Boggess, filled with absolute surprise, even appeared too emotional to say much besides, “Thank you.”

“We’ve been talking about equality in ministry in the Columbia Union for 40 years,” Vandeman said before introducing the next honoree. “Shame on us that when Josphine Benton was an associate pastor at Sligo church [in Takoma Park, Md.], then senior pastor at the Rockville [Md.] church, that we as a church family didn’t have the courage to ordain her. We don't know how to apologize as a church for the time it has taken us to recognize the contribution that you and other women have made to the ministry.”

Benton, 87, who was ordained as an elder in the 1970s and is now an elder at the Williamsport (Md.) church, seemed absolutely delighted. She shared a brief thank you and also thanked Vandeman for his part in helping her get hospital chaplain credentials while he was president of the Chesapeake Conference. 

Cortés, the next honoree, has been president of the New Jersey Conference since September 2007. Prior to that, he served as a pastor in the conference for 18 years. “Since José became president, there have been 4,200 baptisms,” Vandeman said. “It is said if José cuts himself shaving, he bleeds evangelism.”

Looking at the award, Cortés responded by saying, “I don’t deserve this privilege. All glory belongs to Jesus.”

Of the final honoree Vandeman said, “Before Dr. Spence came to the university, WAU was on a downward spiral, but thanks to Dr. Spence we have seen an overall financial turnaround, capital improvement and the second highest enrollment in the schools history this fall with 1,402 students. He is loved by the students, respected by the board and challenged by the faculty.”

Spence admitted that he was surprised to be named an honoree and said, “This goes toward the entire learning community.”

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