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Being present, transforming lives: Alayna Nelson 2024 Denman Award winner

By: Doreen Gosmire, director of communications, Dakotas UMC

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Alayna Nelson, left, listen as Rev. Kris Mutzenberger, announces her as the 2024 Youth Denman Award winner.

Alayna Nelson was awarded the Youth Denman Evangelism Award at the 2024 Dakota Annual Conference held in Bismarck, North Dakota. 

Alayna has been instrumental in growing participation in the youth group of First United Methodist Church in Watertown, South Dakota. She encourages youth to take their faith seriously and shows by example what it looks like to be a part of a Christian community. 
 
She shows loving kindness and shares her Christian faith in her interactions with Watertown First UMC. Alayna has brought people to Jesus by participating in missions, caring for others, and participating in worship through preaching, praying, leading liturgy, and singing.
 
Alayna encourages youth to be involved in the church community. She is willing to be vulnerable when sharing her insights and doubts about her faith. She has shown up for youth with her presence in and outside of the youth group. Alayna demonstrates that showing up brings transformation. 
 
At a time when so much is changing the lives of young people, Alayna has shown others that God is the constant they can cling to. In a skit she wrote for a worship service, she reminded the congregation of the power Jesus has to change lives. 
 
She continually pushes through uncomfortable feelings to share about Jesus and his impact on her life. This has brought hope to her youth group and her entire church community at First UMC. For all these reasons, the Dakotas Conference presented Alayna Nelson with the Harry Denman Award for Evangelism.

UMC

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