The Foundation for Evangelism

History of The Foundation 1949-Present


The Foundation for Evangelism was incorporated on January 31, 1949. The founders included Dr. Harry Denman, the General Secretary of The General Board of Evangelism and a dedicated group of elected members of the General Board who wanted to directly support evangelism ministries within The Methodist denomination. The first officers were: Sollie McCreless, President; Thomas Spradling, Vice President; Claude Holmes, Secretary; and D. E. Jackson, Treasurer. Dr. Denman, Bishop Ralph S. Cushman and Bishop Paul B. Kern were elected Trustees. In its first year, The Foundation gave $10,000 to The General Board for the support of evangelism ministries.

In 1954, President, Mr. Sollie McCreless established “Chairs of Evangelism” at Asbury Seminary and Perkins School of Theology.  This early vision of impacting the church for evangelism through seminary education was the basis for The Foundation support beginning almost 30 years later.

In 1960, Mrs. E.V. Moorman, a trustee from Quincy, Illinois, gave The Foundation its first major stock gift. In 1962, at the urging of Dr. Denman, the number of Trustees was increased from 12 to 24 lay members. In 1964 Shelby Lee Smith (son of Bishop W. Angie Smith) and Edwin L. Jones, Jr. (son of Edwin L. Jones, Sr.) became the first sons of Trustees to join the Board. As Dr. Denman was preparing for retirement, he shared with the Trustees his plan to establish special funds within the Foundation for evangelism ministries.

In 1965 the Trustees celebrated their most active year, to date, as over $87,500 was distributed to support the ministry of the General Board of Evangelism. Trustee Augustus Mertz discussed his plan for a Chair of Evangelism at Wesley Seminary. Stanley Kresge was elected a Trustee and later served as vice chair.  The Chappell-Denman Trust Fund was established from gifts from Clovis Chappell and Dr. Denman. Bishop Gerald Kennedy provided leadership to establish a lectureship series to honor Dr. Denman. This was the year that Dr. Denman resigned from The Foundation and retired as General Secretary of The General Board of Evangelism. He accepted his final salary from the General Board and gave it to The Foundation for Evangelism.

In the late 60’s and through most of the 70’s, the Foundation provided $25,000 to $40,000 annually to the General Board of Evangelism and its successor, The General Board of Discipleship, and donated other gifts to other organizations.  At the 1977 annual meeting, Dr. George Hunter, Assistant General Secretary for the Section on Evangelism of The General Board of Discipleship challenged the Foundation to support the new enthusiasm for evangelism developing across the denomination.  Dr. Charles Kinder of the Florida Annual Conference became the first full-time employee of The Foundation serving as President.

In 1979, The Foundation assets totaled $185,000.  Dr. Kinder launched two new programs  – The Denman Evangelism Awards and “Forward”, an evangelism journal.  In 1982, Dr. Kinder proposed developing “The Seventy” program where persons contribute $1,000 per year to the ministries of The Foundation. Also that year, Trustee Alice Lockmiller helped start The Common Sense Fund, an endowment fund for operations. Regional Directors were named. Discover God’s Call, a program developed by an early member of The Seventy, was sponsored by The Foundation and officially endorsed by The Board of Discipleship. With the encouragement of Dr. George Hunter, Dr. Kinder began developing the E. Stanley Jones Professor of Evangelism initiative. The initiative was built on the dreams of Dr. Denman, Sollie McCreless and Augustus Mertz to have Professors of Evangelism at United Methodist seminaries. Under the leadership of the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Robert Miller and Dr. Kinder, an E. Stanley Jones Professor of Evangelism was established at Boston University School of Theology in September of 1984. Rev. Chester Williams was the first to hold this Chair.

In 1984 the painting of “Offer Them Christ” by Kenneth Wyatt was unveiled and Tennessee Ernie Ford was named Honorary National Chairperson of the art project to raise funds for annual conferences and The Foundation. The original painting of “Offer Them Christ” was donated to the Upper Room Museum in Nashville, TN. In 1985 a Professorship was established at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois, which was by Dr. Robert G. Tuttle, Jr.  In 1986 Kenneth Wyatt began a second art project for The Foundation entitled “Jesus and The Apostles”. Coach Tom Landry of the Dallas Cowboys served as Honorary National Chairperson of the new project. The Foundation used the proceeds to provide funds for the professors of evangelism.

In 1987, The Foundation offices moved to Lake Junaluska, N.C. and Bishops Emerson Colaw and Richard Wilke participated in The Foundation’s first promotional video. The “Jesus and the Apostles” prints were in the video introduction to The Disciple Bible Study and in the Television Bible Study Series developed by Edward Bauman of Wesley Theological Seminary. Following Robert Miller, John Marshall became Chairman of The Foundation Board in 1988 and served until 1996. In May of 1989, a donor was found to underwrite the salary of a Professor of Evangelism at Wesley Theological Seminary, fulfilling Augustus Mertz’s dream. Dr. Kinder stepped down as President of The Foundation in June 1989.

Bishop Earl G. Hunt, Jr. followed Dr. Kinder as President.  When Bishop Hunt joined The Foundation, assets totaled $952,375. He showed great skill and leadership in establishing credibility in theological education, as he had been a college president before serving twenty-four years in the active episcopacy. Bishop Hunt led in the development of more academic guidelines to govern the relationship between the seminaries that have Professors of Evangelism and The Foundation. During his presidency, the professorship was completed at Wesley Theological Seminary and professorships were filled at Saint Paul School of Theology, Duke Divinity School, Africa University and the Methodist Seminary in Reutlingen, Germany. He also was influential in strengthening the relationship between The Foundation and the General Board of Discipleship and the Council of Bishops.

On October 28, 1989, on the 40th anniversary of the founding of The Foundation, forty honorees were chosen as “Distinguished Evangelists” of Methodism beginning a tradition The Foundation continues each year at its annual banquet where a single honoree is presented. In 1990, Dr. Curtis Schofield joined the Foundation staff as Vice President for Development and, with the help of Dr. Ben St. Clair and Terry Muse, was instrumental in developing a number of stewardship opportunities, including gift annuities and the Annual Conference “70″ program for helping to raise funds for evangelism in annual conferences and The Foundation. David and Jean Stanley made a challenge gift to help start “The Partners” program that significantly encouraged major gifts over the next several years.

In 1991, The Foundation sponsored the republishing by The Upper Room of Dr. Harold Rogers’ book entitled Harry Denman: a Biography and dedicated the book to Ms Lou Dozier, Dr. Denman’s secretary and a Foundation Trustee. In 1993, under Phillip Connolly’s leadership, The Foundation and The General Board of Discipleship celebrated what would have been Dr. Denman’s 100th birthday, which included the publication of a book entitled Prophetic Evangelist: The Living Legacy of Harry Denman. Two consultations were held, one at Emory University in 1992 (Theology and Evangelism in the Wesleyan Tradition) and another at Wesley Theological Seminary in 1995 (Christ for the World – United Methodist Bishops Speak On Evangelism). The lectures were edited by Dr. Jim Logan and published by Kingswood Press, a division of Abingdon Press.

In January 1995, Bishop Hunt and the Board of Trustees invited Paul R. Ervin, Jr., a layman, to become the first Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of The Foundation, bringing a lay perspective and the ability to network throughout the denomination.

In November 1996, Bishop Ernest A. Fitzgerald succeeded Bishop Hunt as the President of The Foundation and Roy Warren succeeded John Marshall as Chairman. When Bishop Fitzgerald began his tenure assets totaled $5,628,363 and by the end of 2000 had increased to $14,964,276. Two more professorships were endowed and four professorships added, increasing the number to eleven supported by The Foundation. The Fitzgerald Institute Fund for Evangelism and Congregational Development was created in honor of Bishop and Mrs. Fitzgerald.

On January 1, 2001, Bishop Richard Looney became President of The Foundation. In May, a 25-week small group study resource entitled Witness: Exploring and Sharing Your Christian Faith was published. The Witness resource was a product of a joint venture between The Foundation and the General Board of Discipleship. By the end of 2001, it was into its third printing. In 2002, The Foundation partnered with the General Board of Discipleship to establish the Fitzgerald Pastors Program, an exciting program for training pastors of new-start churches. The program has trained 70 pastors since its inception.

In 2002, The Foundation was a sponsor of the Convocation on The Great Commission held at Emory University where Dr. James Buskirk delivered the first Wallace Chappell Lecture. A high tech and Internet based Evangelism Network was launched. In November, Lane Rees became Chairman.

While market conditions had lowered The Foundation’s net assets to less than $11,000,000 in September 2002, marvelous gifts increased the net assets to over $26,000,000 by October 2003. This outpouring of generosity made possible the endowing of ALL the E. Stanley Jones Professors of Evangelism!

In 2004, a Vision Report was adopted by the Board which targeted Professorship Initiatives, Leadership and Life Skills, Children, Youth, Campus and Young Adult Ministries, Hispanic Evangelism and Technology. Technology staff was hired for the Evangelism Network and the Web Empowered Church.

In January 2005, the Adult Workers with Youth program was established at the General Board of Discipleship through the support of The Foundation. In September 2005, the Web Empowered Church software and documentation were released. A United Methodist Campus Ministry Summit sponsored by The Foundation was held in December 2005 at Duke Divinity School. 

The incredible energy and passion of Executive Director Paul Ervin helped The Foundation assume a position of tremendous respect and influence by 2006.  With assets totaling over $40,000,000, The Foundation was funding many meaningful and exciting programs.  These included the expansion of the Professors of Evangelism by including a ThD program at Duke Divinity School and a PhD program at Asbury Theological Seminary; doctoral scholarship support for Denman Fellows and Post Doctoral Mentoring Fellows; the Timothy Scholars Doctoral Program at Princeton Theological Seminary to support doctoral training of future seminary professors focusing on youth and young adult ministries; Youth and Campus Ministries grants, mentoring, web communities and annual Refresh Conferences as well as the establishment of Youth Worker Movement led by Terry Carty; Leadership and Life Skills Development included small church leadership and other church related leadership initiatives; use of Technology evangelism initiatives were expaned by the offering free software to churches; and plans were in process for a Hispanic Plan for Evangelism Ministry.  Through Paul Ervin’s exceptional efforts, The Foundation’s focus and vision for the future was in place to make a difference for The United Methodist Church in making disciples for Jesus Christ.

In January 2007, Paul Ervin stepped down and Dr. John L. Ewing Jr. was chosen as the Executive Director.  John’s (Jack’s) background as a college president provides the Foundation the leadership qualities to continue to lead The Foundation forward into the future.  The Foundation continues its focus on leadership development and multiplication within the United Methodist Church celebrating a newly named Timothy Scholars at Princeton Theological Seminary and doctoral students at both Duke Divinity School and Asbury Theological Seminary. Post-doctoral fellowships were awarded to scholars at both Duke Divinity School and Candler School of Theology and three Denman Fellowships for doctoral study were awarded to candidates studying in the United States and England.

The Foundation continues to expand its focus on youth and campus ministry through an ongoing partnership with the YouthWorker Movement.  The 2007 Refresh conference for Campus Ministers from throughout the United States was hailed as the best ever and seven Campus Ministry Pilot Grants were funded for the 2007-2008 academic year.  Technology and its potential to impact evangelism for the Church continues to be a focus with numerous successes and partnerships completed this year.  The year culminated in the recognition of Dr. Kent Millard as the Distinguished Evangelist of The United Methodist Church.

We celebrate the past and look forward to supporting organizations, primarily through funding, who will develop leaders who will have a multiplying evangelical impact on the United Methodist Church.  We are blessed to have the opportunity to pursue the passion of sharing with all persons the transforming love of God through Jesus Christ.


harry denman
Dr. Harry Denman, Founder




  • 1949 – Foundation for Evangelism Founded
  • 1954 – Chairs of Evangelism Established at UM Seminaries
  • 1979 – Denman Evangelism Awards and Forward Magazine established
  • 1984 – Offer Them Christ painting unveiled as Annual Conference and FFE fundraiser
  • 1986 – Jesus and the Apostles painting series unveiled as fundraiser for Professorships of Evangelism
  • 1987– Foundation for Evangelism offices moved to Lake Junaluska, NC
  • 2001 – First Publishing of Witness: Exploring and Sharing Your Christian Faith
  • 2002 – Fitzgerald Pastors Program Initiated
  • 2005 – New Focus on Leadership Development
  • 2005 – The Foundation for Evangelism Headquarters opened at Lake Junaluska
  • 2006 – Timothy Scholars Program Established
  • 2006 – Doctoral Programs established at Duke Divinity School and Asbury Theological Seminary

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