Awards & recognition

Barnabas Award 

The Barnabas Servant Leadership Award is named for Barnabas, a servant-leader. Barnabas recruited Paul for ministry, worked with Paul as a missionary, mentored John Mark, and led a multicultural pastoral team in Antioch. The name Barnabas means "son of encouragement." The award, in association with the Barney II and Moore Foundations, takes the name “Barnabas” as it serves as an effective instrument to the educational community by promoting the ideals of service that substantially benefit others. Wheel-thrown basins are given out each year to recipients of the Barnabas Award.

The awards are made available by the Agapé Center and are given to one current undergraduate student and one current employee at Messiah University.

2023 Student Recipient

Rachel Ferrence, Social Work

Rachel is a student leader in the Agape Center with Paxton Ministries, but was awarded this recognition for the work she has done above and beyond her involvement with the Agape Center including her work in establishing Ruby Coffee + Co in Camp Hill. Through trauma-informed employment and barista training, she offers economic development opportunities and empowers women who have been exploited by the commercial sex industry. A true example of combining service with her vocation! In addition, she is being recognized for the time and energy spent serving at Bethany Birches camp each summer for the last several years. The particular needs that she strives to meet for the kids, who at such a young age have experienced great trauma, is admirable – to let kids truly be kids and experience the love of Jesus in real ways. Rachel is also completing her senior practicum in the Child Abuse Unit with the Dauphin County DA’s Office.

Rachel has chosen Camp Agape Vermont to receive a monetary gift.

2023 Student Recipient

Emma Narber, Peace & Conflict Studies and Digital Media: Digital Video & Story

Emma Narber is a Senior Double Major in Peace & Conflict Studies, along with Digital Media: Digital Video & Story. She is currently a Resident Assitant in the Mellinger Apartments, along with an Outreach Coordinator with the Agapé Center for Local & Global Engagement. Throughout the previous few years, Emma has had the opportunity to serve and learn from multiple service experiences all over the world. Multiple organizations and non-profits like that of Won By One to Jamaica, Grain of Hope, One Collective, Nea Zoi, the Penns Valley Youth Center, and Central Detroit Christian Community Development have been extremely influential in developing her heart for service learning, reconciliation and empowerment along with holistic help. Emma has loved learning more about the importance and value of service and how The Lord continues to call each of us to serve and love like Him. 

Emma has chosen Nea Zoi to receive a monetary gift.

2023 Employee Recipient

Dr. Mindy Smith

Dr. Mindy Smith is an Assistant Professor of Applied Health Science. Mindy’s Health Promotion Management course engages students in partnership with Brethren Housing Association (BHA) in Harrisburg, PA. Her students come alongside staff at BHA to support practical wellness for families who are experiencing homelessness. Mindy also had the amazing opportunity to partner with Messiah and Baltimore Urban Studies colleagues to help build a public health minor for students in diverse academic disciplines. Mindy is passionate about community engagement that promotes deeper student learning, authentic relationships, and reconciliation. When she’s not at Messiah, she loves to go on outdoor adventures with her husband, Brent, and kids, Kendi and Kiptyn.

Each year, we ask for nominations of individuals who have demonstrated significant contributions in the areas of ministry, community service, and leadership. The community service that the Barnabas Award seeks to reward is unpaid service that is done off-campus through community partners. The following factors will be given priority in selecting the recipient.

  • The level of spiritual maturity and commitment to ministry and community service.
  • The ability to integrate her/his ministry and community service with other aspects of her/his life and work including academic work, faith perspectives and sense of vocation.
  • The impact of the ministry and community service on the community in which she/he served and her/his ability to effectively work with and respect persons with whom she/he worked.

The finalists will be asked for additional information.

Student Recipients: 

Erin Haines (2022)

Leiby Soto (2021)

Tyler Pursell (2019)

Briel Slocum (2018)

Paula Holtzinger (2017)

Addison Hurst (2016)

Caroline Hurff (2015)

Tetyana Pyatovolenko (2014)

Logan Thompson (2013)

Employee Recipients: 

Wanda Thuma-McDermond (2022)

Julie Price (2021)

Amy Nicols (2019)

Betsey Miller (2018)

Danny Thompson (2017)

Angela Hare (2016)

Don Murk (2015)

Jean Corey (2014)

Norman "Skip" Benson (2013)

Newman Civic Fellows Award

The Newman Civic Fellows Award honors inspiring student leaders who have demonstrated an investment in finding solutions for challenges facing communities throughout the country. Through service, research, and advocacy, Newman Civic Fellows are making the most of their college experiences to better understand themselves, the root causes of social issues, and effective mechanisms for creating lasting change. These students represent the next generation of public problem solvers and civic leaders. They serve as national examples of the role that higher education can—and does—play in building a better world.

Madilyn Keaton (2018)

Dylan Thomas (2015)

Lauren Fisher (2013)

Katie Todd (2012)