Spiritual Care Volunteer of the Year
Reverend Dr. Lawrence W. Johnson’s vision took shape at Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church, Houston, Texas. Faced with a growing number of requests to provide prayer and solace for patients arriving to Houston for medical treatments, he trained a group of church members to visit the sick in five hospitals in the Texas Medical Center. A great guild of Spiritual Care Volunteers was born.
The Spiritual Care Volunteer of the Year Award was created to recognize excellence in the guild envisioned by Reverend Johnson. Given to a POP Spiritual Care Volunteer, this award salutes someone who dedicates their free time to serving others in God’s love. While conferring with the President of POP, the Director of Spiritual Care identifies POP Spiritual Care Volunteers whose qualities exemplify this award.
Faithfully serving, The Spiritual Care Volunteer of the Year is a POP Spiritual Care Volunteer who exemplifies dedication to patients, families, medical communities, and their faith community. Feedback from churches, patients, and hospital Spiritual Care Departments help Prayers Of the People recognize and celebrate the awardee. Humility in service, prayerful visits, the showing of God’s loving grace, and deep care for patients are just some of the qualities the past recipients have shown. The Reverend Dr. Lawrence W. Johnson Award acknowledges the transformative service to God and medical communities by a POP Spiritual Care Volunteer.
The Reverend Dr. Lawrence W. Johnson Spiritual Care Volunteer of the Year Award is presented to honorees at a Prayers Of the People community event.
2023 Spiritual Care Volunteer of the Year
The Reverend Dr. James T. Birchfield
2023 Deep in the Heart of Texas Event Photos
2020 Spiritual Care Volunteer of the Year
2020 Deep In the Heart of Texas Event Photos
2020 Spiritual Care Volunteer of the Year – Mack Taylor Biography
2018 Spiritual Care Volunteer of the Year
2018 Deep In the Heart of Texas Event Photos
2018 Spiritual Care Volunteer of the Year – Gene Meyer Biography
2016 Spiritual Care Volunteer of the Year
2016 Deep In the Heart of Texas Event Photos
“Thank you so much for the award! Oh my, I’ve never received anything like that before. It’s beautiful! and I am totally unworthy of it. I feel that it drives me to continue the work here, with my patients, and those around me – encouraging them, and being a channel of God’s love to those who need it.” – Esmeralda Teo [she is now serving at Singapore General Hospital, Republic of Singapore]
Natively Chinese and educated in the United Kingdom, Esmeralda shares that her early faith formation was in a small Presbyterian church in London, England. Currently serving at Singapore General Hospital, Dr. Esmeralda Chi Yuan Teo, a hematology-oncologist, joined the department as a specialist because she was touched by the indomitable spirit of the patients she encountered. Esmeralda decided to take 2014 as a sabbatical year for the department to accompany her husband, Dr. Mingyann Lim who was pursuing a Fellowship in Head and Neck oncological surgery at the The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas.
Receiving a National Medical Research Council Scholarship, Esmeralda was able to conduct research at MD Anderson Cancer Center, specifically, investigating drug synergy in lymphoma cells as part of stem cell research, supervised by Drs. Ben Valdens and Borje Andersson. Esmeralda had long sense God calling her to learn how to spiritually support patients. Fortuitously, she and Mingyann chose First Presbyterian Church as their community of faith where Esmeralda completed the Prayers Of the People (POP) Spiritual Care Volunteer Training course. Her Clinical Training for POP took place at MD Anderson and she continued to provide spiritual care for patients and their families throughout her sabbatical year.
In reflection, Esmeralda offers, “I encountered many patients who shared with me their stories, and I had the privilege to be part of their journey. One dying patient told me of how he prepared to be with the Lord. His son prayed such a beautiful prayer of dedication that really left me speechless. Many patients left their homes to come to MD Anderson for treatment, and they felt isolated and lonely without their families. The more I visited, the more confidence God gave me to be a channel of His blessing and to pray with them. After returning to Singapore, I continue to utilize the empathetic and compassionate listening skills I experienced to be so valuable in caring for the patients. I believe God is revealing to me my place in my department – to be involved in supportive/palliative oncology. I am very grateful to Prayers Of the People for the training I received, which is shaping me to provide a deeper level of care for my patients.”
AnneMarie Wallace comments on Esmeralda’s ministry – “From the outset, Esmeralda sought out the POP Spiritual Care Volunteer Training with a tremendous passion. As a physician and researcher, she was deeply focused on learning how to hear the patient’s spiritual language congruent with their physical manifestations. Her patients will sense the loving presence of God through her care. Esmeralda often closes her communications with favorite Scriptures, illuminating the sources of her peace.”
2014 Spiritual Care Volunteer of the Year
2014 Deep In the Heart of Texas Event Photos
The Board of Directors of POP is overjoyed to present the 2014 Spiritual Care Volunteer of the Year Award to Dot Uthlaut, a Spiritual Care Volunteer greatly loved and respected. Her phenomenal dedication is matched by her gentle and graceful spirit with patients and their families, as well as her mentorship to many POP Spiritual Care Volunteers. While never calling attention to her spiritual care for a vast number, Dot has quietly strengthened the legacy of POP and there is no doubt why she is continually requested when patients return to Houston Methodist. Dot speaks of her decades of serving God’s people…
“I’ve been proudly serving in the POP ministry for almost 30 years. I joined the ministry in 1985 after my after my return to the United States from four years in London where my husband George was working. Lawrence Johnson, an associate pastor at Memorial Drive Presbyterian had formed the ministry a few years earlier with a few volunteers to help provide spiritual support for patients that had traveled to Houston for their medical care. When he asked me to join I jumped at the chance to train in such a vital ministry. I began to serve at Methodist Hospital, and have been volunteering there every Monday since then. My weekly visit consists of a friendly conversation with patients and family members, and if he or she agrees, a short prayer is offered for their healing. I can honestly say participating in the POP Ministry has changed my life in so many ways.”
The Reverend Robert Kidd, MDiv, BCC, Director of Spiritual Care and Education offers his thoughts about Dot… “At Houston Methodist Hospital, Dot has been as constant as the sunrise. She is always faithful, always positive. Dot absolutely radiates a sense of confidence, assurance, and encouragement. She is a pearl of a great price.”