The Rev. E. James Verkest Awarded the Herbert E. Manning Jr. Distinctive Service Award
May 23, 2018
DUBUQUE, Iowa – The Rev. E. James Verkest (MDiv’98), of Stevens Point, Wisconsin, received the Herbert E. Manning Jr. Distinctive Service Award at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary Awards Banquet on Friday, May 18, 2018, at the Dubuque Golf and Country Club.
The Herbert E. Manning Jr. Distinctive Service Award recognizes UDTS alumni/ae who demonstrate exceptional contributions in Christian ministry. Recipients model servant leadership, courageous convictions, a spirit of witness, and a faithful obedience as they contribute significantly to the Church universal, the Seminary, and all of God’s people.
The person who nominated Verkest said he has always had a passion for lay discipleship and education.
Verkest earned a bachelor of science from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, a master of science in political science from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and a master of divinity from UDTS. He also completed the three year study program at the Beeson Institute for Advanced Church Leadership, which is today considered a doctoral program through Asbury Theological Seminary.
Always a proponent of Christian education, Verkest taught adult Bible studies in several churches. He was the primary presenter for the Bethel Bible Series and, for several years, taught a weekend seminar on Vital Church Development. Additionally, Verkest taught over 200 students in the basic and advanced lay speaking classes of the United Methodist Church and he helped train nearly 100 students in the advanced preaching classes – several of whom went onto seminary, licensing school, or lay ministry positions.
In his first full-time appointment after seminary, Verkest grew the worship attendance of Melrose United Methodist Church from 35 to over 100 in three years. The congregation added a contemporary worship service on Saturday evenings, formed a choir, started a food pantry, added healing services, and sent mission groups to Reynosa, Mexico, with clothing, medical supplies, and other needed items.
In 2001, Verkest was moved to the Mosinee United Methodist Church. The congregation faced financial problems and worship had declined. Within a year, a new 12,500-square-foot sanctuary and fellowship center was opened and Mosinee United Methodist Church become of the fastest growing UMC churches in the Wisconsin Conference United Methodist Church for the next several years. At Mosinee, Verkest led the congregation to form a food pantry and open a Community Center of Hope. The center provided classrooms for four-year-old preschool, a unit for autistic children, weekly meals, a free medical clinic, after school programming for youth, and more. The Community Center of Hope became a non-profit serving most of southern Marathon County.
Verkest retired from full-time ministry in 2010. He is pastoring in retirement at the Amherst/Buena Vista Charge in Wisconsin. He has served those churches since August 2015.