Pictured: Jesse Burdette, 15, far right, was presented the Harry Denman Evangelism Award for youth recently at the Virginia UMC Conference in Hampton, Va. Burdette is a member of Craddockville UMC who preaches in pulpits throughout the Eastern Shore. To Burdette’s left are Tina and Robert Hendricks, lay recipients of the award.

A local youth has won a state United Methodist Conference award for outstanding service in evangelism.

Jesse Burdette, 15, a member of the Craddockville United Methodist Church, was presented the Harry Denman Evangelism Award recently at the Virginia UMC Conference in Hampton, Va.

The award honors a clergy, youth and lay person in each annual conference who has exhibited outstanding efforts in Wesleyan evangelism by faithfully carrying out the mission of “making disciples” of Jesus.

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The award is named for the late Dr. Harry Denman, distinguished lay evangelist who Dr. Billy Graham called “my mentor in evangelism.”

Burdette was selected the youth recipient after being nominated by his church, where he and his mother, Tara Burdette, are active members. Jesse and his mother started attending Craddockville UMC shortly after his father, Wayne Burdette, passed away in 2020 after lingering health issues.

Burdette said attending the Virginia United Methodist Conference   “reaffirmed my decision to pursue pastoral ministry as a career. I felt an excitement and energy there that just made me more determined to become a minister to spread the Word of God and help change lives.”

Burdette, who is a rising sophomore in a home school setting, announced two years ago from the pulpit he felt a calling to ministry and has often preached at local churches and even across the state several times. He also leads the youth group at Craddockville UMC and has reached out to area churches and communities to greatly increase attendance.

Burdette also has initiated multi-church gatherings at the Onley UMCA for youth.

He is a major fundraiser for Camp Occohannock on the Bay, a retreat owned by the Eastern Shore UMC, raising over $2,000 for the Polar Duck Dip last January.

Burdette is the youth representative on the church’s administrative council and speaks to the issues of church with both a maturity and confidence that belies his youth. He is also a member and leader in Sea Scouts, an organization that is supported by the church.

Church members at Craddockville view Jesse with both respect and pride and take joy in watching him grow spiritually, knowing he sets a great example for other youth while always striving to attract more youth to learn about the church, and more importantly, Jesus.

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