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Nell Mohney

I met Adam Hamilton before he was famous. In 1996, my husband and I were members of the United Methodist Foundation for Evangelism with headquarters at Lake Junaluska, N.C. Each year, the foundation names a pastor who is doing excellent work in evangelism. That year, Hamilton, a 25-year-old pastor who looked even younger, was given the award.

Before receiving it, he preached to members of the foundation and his sermon was so compelling, I can almost give a point-by-point of the entire message. There was no "razzmatazz" in his preaching; it was a simple but powerful presentation of the Gospel. I was deeply moved in my head and heart.

The young pastor had asked his bishop if he might plant a church in his hometown of Leawood, Kan. Permission was granted, and Hamilton planted the church with four members -- him, his wife and their two daughters. Today, the Church of the Resurrection has more than 20,000 members.

In the narthex of the church is printed the threefold focus of the church: First, reaching the nonreligious and the nominally religious, and equipping and recruiting them to become committed followers of Jesus Christ. Second, equip and inspire members to live their faith in mission to the community and the world. Third, act as a catalyst to renew the United Methodist Church.

He has one additional dream: to train and equip young pastors. Each year, he has a Church Institute where young pastors from across the denomination come to relate to older and more experienced pastors and learn from Hamilton's staff. The Church Reporter magazine named Hamilton's church as the most influential mainline church in America. PBS's Religion and Ethics newsletter named Hamilton as one of 10 people of faith to watch.

Several years ago, Adam Hamilton spoke at a conference for pastors in my church. I was impressed anew with his humility and common sense approach to Christian ministry. Of his 14 books, I believe that his best is "24 Hours That Changed the World."I know that reading it immeasurably enriched my Easter experience this year.

Contact Nell Mohney at nellwmohney@timesfreepress.com.

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