By the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM)
The Desert Southwest Conference of The United Methodist Church posthumously awarded its 2015 Francis Asbury Award to Kayla Mueller, who died in ISIS captivity after traveling to the Middle East to perform humanitarian aid work.
Carl and Marsha Mueller accepted the award in their daughter’s behalf during a ceremony held at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff to honor Kayla and the university’s campus ministry.
“This is in honor, in memory and celebration of what it means to be a disciple and to transform the world and to love others,” Rob Rynders, chair of the regional United Methodist Board of Campus Ministry, said during the presentation ceremony.
Administered by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, the Francis Asbury Award is a non-monetary tribute to recognize and encourage support of higher education and campus ministries within The United Methodist Church. The award recognizes individuals who have made a significant contribution to fostering the church's ministries in higher education at the local, district or annual conference level of the church. It can only be awarded once a year by an annual conference.
“To hear Kayla’s parents talk about the joy she experienced from her ministry, and to witness how inspired these students are by Kayla’s dedication to ministry is a testament to the power and magnitude of her work and the work of college ministries across the country,” said Matthew Charlton, assistant general secretary for collegiate ministries at Higher Education and Ministry, who attended the ceremony.
Kayla Mueller was kidnapped in August 2013 as she was leaving a hospital in Syria. She had ventured into the country after spending months working for aid groups on the Turkey-Syria border. She was killed a year and a half later under circumstances that remain unknown, though U.S. officials have said Islamic State militants are responsible. She was 27 years old.