By Kara Witherow, Editor
Dr. Jonathan Smith, director of the Georgia Southern Wesley and Savannah Wesley Foundations, was recently honored by The Georgia United Methodist Commission on Higher Education and Collegiate Ministry with the Francis Asbury Award.
The national award is presented annually by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry of The United Methodist Church to a person who fosters the church’s ministries in higher education at the local, district, or annual conference level.
The award recognizes Dr. Smith for cultivating student leaders at GSU and growing the GSU Wesley Foundation; his vision, leadership, and work with the Young Clergy Academy; his role as a coach for other campus minsters and ministries in South Georgia; and his leadership and ministry in Savannah with the Foundery Coffee Pub, Georgia Southern’s Armstrong Campus, Savannah College of Art and Design, and Savannah State University.
“He’s such an incredible asset to the whole state,” said Rev. Michael McCord, executive director of the UM Commission. “This is a testament to his leadership and commitment to empowering students. This is just a small representation of the great work he’s doing and appreciation for what he is doing for our denomination and for the lives of college students in Georgia.”
In presenting the award, Rev. Rebecca Duke-Barton, president of the UM Commission and pastor of Jesup First United Methodist Church, spoke of Dr. Smith’s influence and impact.
“The vitality of the Wesley ministry at Georgia Southern is due to a movement of the Holy Spirit and the hard work of Jonathan Smith,” she said. “Georgia Southern is a ministry that is fruitful, both in terms of numbers of students coming to worship and study, but also in the fruit of discipleship we see in the college students coming through the program. Students are hearing a message of the grace of Jesus Christ, and seeing that message lived out daily.”
Dr. Smith, who has served the Georgia Southern University community since 2015, said that he is grateful for the ministry God has given him.
“I’m humbled to receive this award and thankful to be recognized for the work I get to be a part of every single week,” he said.