Banquet honors students

NILES –The Niles Interfaith Banquet, which marked its 51st year, recognized four local high school seniors by presenting scholarships at the April 23 gathering at Ciminero’s Banquet Centre.

The Thomas Murphy Youth Awards included two $500 scholarships to Rea Gaugler of Niles and Nathan Hevener of Mineral Ridge. Two $100 scholarships were presented to Justin Beatty of Niles and Nathan Mohn of Girard.

The award is presented to a graduating senior who is a member of one of the Niles Interfaith participating churches. Students are recognized for their service to the community and church and school involvement and activities.

l Justin Beatty is a member of New Hope United Methodist Church and a student at Niles McKinley High School. He will attend Notre Dame College to study criminal justice.

l Rea Gaugler is a member of First Christian Church and a student at Niles McKinley High School. She will attend Kent State University to study chemistry.

l Nathan Hevener is a member of New Hope United Methodist Church and a student at Mineral Ridge High School. He will attend Youngstown State University to study information technology.

l Nate Mohn is a member of First United Methodist Church and a student at Girard High School. He will attend Kent State University to study physical therapy.

Georgeanne Walters, event committee member, said the four students are very active in their churches and help with Sunday school, food distribution and vacation Bible school. The four students also are active in school with band, clubs and sports.

Dan Bryant, district superintendent of the East Ohio Conference of the First United Methodist Church for the past eight years, was the keynote speaker at the event.

At his position, Bryant oversees 67 churches and 57 pastors within the district, which covers northeast Ohio from Sebring to Wellsville.

Bryant spoke on what the United Methodist Church is doing today for missions. He said mission work by the church is done both locally in the United States as and in other parts of the world.

Bryant said he recently met in Georgia with directors and leaders from countries around the world who oversee missions.

”Our church is connected to the rest of the world. Any local church is connected to the world through its giving. We serve the world as a parish,” Bryant said.

The United Methodist Church is a global church, he said, and connects to other churches and parts of the world through its mission work.

”You are a growing church in the community. Remember the world is our church,” Bryant said.

He said the United Methodist Church focuses on four areas — developing leaders, both lay and clergy; growing vital churches; improving global health; and ministry with the poor.

Locally, United Methodist churches are helping with local needs, such as providing funds for the United Methodist Community Centers in Warren and Youngstown. He said all churches have mission outposts, with the Mahoning Valley having 67.

”We collaborate and work together,” he said. “We work with one another.”

The United Methodist churches are available to help when disasters strike, such as floods, earthquakes and hurricanes. Bryant said the churches help displaced people around the world, building schools and hospital.

”The United Methodist Churches brings help to those needing it. The church provides hope for the homeless and comforts those who are afraid,” Bryant said.

Objectives of the church, he said, are to improve global health and reach children.

”Our ministry is more than words. It is truly action. Recognize the world as our parish. As United Methodists, we are going to do our best to clothe, feed and bring health needs to others in need,” he said.

Lolly Symcheck, chairwoman of the banquet committee, said, “This is a good thing.We do so much more than scholarships. This organization really builds characters and shows the importance of working with one another.”

The Rev. Paula Marbury of the Niles United Methodist Church said there are many communities that do not have the unity shown by the Niles Interfaith.

”I am so glad we come together,” Marbury said. “ It is so important,.”