ABHMS’ Longest-Serving Volunteer Receives
Ministry Recognition Award
American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS) Executive Director Dr. Jeffrey Haggray has presented the 2019 national-recognition Jitsuo Morikawa ABHMS Healing and Transforming Communities Award to Anna Young, aged 88, the organization’s longest-serving volunteer. He presented her with a plaque and cash award in early September at Lackawanna County Prison, Scranton, Pa., where she has been ministering since 1971.
Haggray thanked Young for her outstanding leadership and exceptional effectiveness in holistic ministry in an urban, small town or rural setting. Young’s Project Re-Entry group seeks to help every inmate find purpose through faith. She not only leads worship and Bible study but also gathers donations from area churches and community groups to fill bags with candy and personal-care items for inmates. She provides returning citizens with attire for job interviews, and she has temporarily housed more than 100 former inmates in her home.
The Rev. Kadia Edwards, ABHMS national coordinator of Volunteer-mobilization and Disaster-response Ministries—who also attended the awards presentation—noted that the prison’s incarcerated women were originally not intended to attend the awards presentation. However, based on Anna’s insistence, five of them were permitted to attend. Young’s influence at the prison is wide and deeply felt.
“Anna has such a level of respect in that prison,” Edwards says. “Everyone spoke about what a joy and blessing she is to be with.
“She embodies what it means to live out one’s calling,” Edwards continues. “Few could walk away without feeling her impact.”
At the close of the ceremony, Haggray and ABHMS staff gathered in a circle with Young, inmates and correctional center staff for a moving time of prayer.
ABHMS’ other 2019 national-recognition ministry awards were presented at American Baptist Churches USA’s Biennial Mission Summit in Virginia Beach in June. Recipients were selected by ABHMS’ board of directors from nominations submitted by clergy and laypersons across the United States and Puerto Rico.