The New England Conference Board of Church and Society administers two awards each year to persons in New England who work for social justice: the Ziegler Award for Excellence in Preaching and the Bryan Award for Excellence in Social Justice Action.
This award is presented each year at the New England Annual Conference session to a person
who demonstrates excellence in preaching the whole Gospel, addressing both personal and social salvation. The recipient of the award is invited to preach at the Annual Conference session.
In 1981, the Mathewson Street United Methodist Church in Providence, RI, established the Wilbur C. Ziegler Award to honor Rev. Ziegler’s “compassion and optimism, his ability, courage, and sensitivity."
Rev. Ziegler's ministry was characterized by an unhesitating prophetic proclamation of social justice, leading him to preach the whole Gospel in ways that “afflicted the comfortable,” even and especially when that proclamation was unpopular in his ministry context.
Prophetic preaching is greatly needed in every generation, and the New England Conference Board of Church and Society is proud to lift up those who preach the whole Gospel in ways that challenge, convict, and compel a broad and diverse people of God.
This award is presented for excellence in social justice actions as a way of lifting up the commitment of United Methodism to such endeavors.
To have an award that lifts up social justice presupposes that there are injustices in the world. Social justice, therefore, is defined as those efforts that ensure and/or create the quality of community life envisioned in the Hebrew Bible and New Testament.
The award is limited to those, regardless of religious affiliation, who seek to change systemic injustice in order to ensure this vision. The award honors persons who embody the Judeo-Christian vision of justice as interpreted by the United Methodist Social Principles.
Activity in the church is not a prerequisite for nomination nor a condition for receiving the award. All non-clergy persons who live in New England are eligible, regardless of religious affiliation, race, age, occupation, or national origin.