Emma Elzy Award Recipient Recalls Honor as 2016 Nominations Sought

3/2/2016

By Laura Lea Williams, Mississippi Conference Staff

Photo right: The Rev. Peggy Gibson was the 2015 recipient of the Emma Elzy Award.
The Emma K. Elzy Award is presented to an individual, group, or institution for their outstanding achievement in race relations; this award is given by the Mississippi Conference in honor of Emma Elzy, an outstanding layperson.

Elzy, a descendent of slaves, was born on May 23, 1886 and was married to Charlie Elzy in 1907 and had four children with him. Elzy was raised in The United Methodist Church and was a member of Mount Moriah for 70 years and a Methodist Conference attendee for 50 years. Throughout her life, Elzy strove for unity and fullness to the body of Christ. She stayed involved with the church, donating her time, money, and talents so that she could aid in the improvement of race relations, human relations, church relations, and family relations. 

Reverend Peggy Gibson has embodied that spirit of unity throughout her time in the pulpit. She has been working towards improving relations within her Mississippi community of Neshoba County during her past five years of preaching there. When she won the Emma K. Elzy Award in 2015, she said it was like exhaling. "To be recognized for work that you already do without thinking about it," said Rev. Gibson "is rewarding."

Gibson went on to say that she felt elated to know that someone had noticed the work that God has been calling her to do since she was 5 years old. She has always been proud to be a Methodist saying that the connections made throughout the Methodist Church and the willingness to help one another are just a few reasons that she loves being a preacher. Her main goal through her work is to instill a feeling of brotherly love.

Gibson exemplified Elzy's spirit through her work with the mission God's Closet. This mission began with the Philadelphia First  UMC United Methodist Women unit in Neshoba County.  Gibson played a role in getting other groups involved.  She stressed that this mission had nothing to do with the race of the child, and that color should be left out because every child deserves clothes and food. She said that her love for this mission stemmed from her childhood; growing up with four sisters in a house of divorce, her mother couldn't afford much. Gibson said that this ministry was the helping hand for the people who needed it, and as of 2016, children in Neshoba County do not have to go without clothing, shoes, or food thanks to God's Closet.

As long as the nominees embody Emma Elzy's spirit of unity and Christ's love for all, anyone may be nominated. The current nomination deadline for this year's award is May 1, 2016. If you know someone who goes above and beyond to show Christ's love to others while showing astounding achievements in regards to race relations, submit their names for Emma Elzy Award. You may find nomination information at www.mississippi-umc.org/2016awards.