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e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service


An e-Review News Item | March 10, 2010 {1148}

• Florida United Methodist receives national scout award
• Floridians recognized by United Methodist Association for outstanding leadership

Florida United Methodist receives national scout award

By Rich Peck**

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Dr. Sam G. Bala, a surgeon who has traveled around the world to provide free operations for children with cleft palates, late last year received the Silver Torch Award. The honor is bestowed on individuals who have given exceptional service to scouting beyond the annual conference level. Bala is the former chairman of the national United Methodist Scouting Ministry committee.

First United Methodist Church of Dade City, Fla., presented the award to Bala, a former member of the church’s administrative board and finance and nominating committees. He currently serves as treasurer of the church’s United Methodist Men.

The Nashville-based General Commission on United Methodist Men gives the Silver Torch Award to adults who have given faithful service to The United Methodist Church through Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Camp Fire USA, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, 4-H or United Methodist youth groups. A Torch Award is offered to individuals who have led youth-serving organizations on a local level.

A native of the Philippines, Bala graduated from the medical school of Far Eastern University in Manila. He moved to the United States in 1973, where he did his general surgery residency at the State University of New York in Stony Brook. He moved to Dade City in 1981, where he operated his own practice for 16 years until he later joined Pasco Surgical Associates. 

Since moving to Dade City, Bala has been involved in several organizations and is a past president of the Dade City Rotary Club. Last May, he convinced the club to bag one million “Stop Hunger Now” packets of dried soy meal, rice and vegetables for hungry people of Third World countries. He has received multiple Paul Harris Fellow honors for Rotary contributions and is a lifetime member of the International Fellowship of Scouting Rotarians.

Bala has a long history with scouting. As a young Star Scout, he served as the Boy Scout Mayor of Pasay City in Manila during Boy Scout Week in 1958. He now serves on the executive board of Boy Scout Troop 402. He received the 2006 Distinguished Citizen Award from the Gulf Ridge Council of the Boy Scouts. He is a member of the Troop and Advancement committees of Boy Scout Troop 402 and serves as a merit badge counselor. He also provides annual physicals for the Scouts.

Bala is the chairman of Diabetes Kids Group. He has served as a member of the board of directors of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of St. Petersburg and a member of the board of trustees at Pasco Medical Center. He has also has served on the board of directors for Pasco Hernando Community College Foundation and is associated with East Pasco Habitat for Humanity.


Floridians recognized by United Methodist Association for outstanding leadership

By Ronelle Hill**

VANDALIA, Ohio — The United Methodist Association of Health and Welfare Ministries (UMA), a national network of United Methodist-related organizations, recognized the Rev. Dr. Mont Duncan and Robert G. and Ann King for outstanding leadership and commitment to ministry during UMA’s 70th National Convention March 4-6 in Burlingame, Ca.

Duncan, who serves as executive director of the Florida Conference New Church Development office, was recognized as trustee of the year for his work on the board of trustees for the Florida United Methodist Children’s Home Inc. in Enterprise, Fla. The Kings were recognized as individual volunteers of the year, also for their work with the Children’s Home.

The trio was among volunteers and individual staff members from continuing care retirement communities; children, youth and family service organizations; community service ministries; hospitals and health-care systems; and connectional units of The United Methodist Church.
Others recognized included:
Distinguished Service: Chaplain John A. Wilcher, director of Clergy and Conference Ministries, Methodist Lebonheur Healthcare, Memphis, Tenn., for distinguished service to the United Methodist Association.
Olin E. Oeschger Memorial Award: Penney Schwab, executive director of United Methodist Western Kansas Mexican-American Ministries.
Administrator of the Year — Older Adult Ministries Section: Rev. Dr. Joseph L. Trueblood, president/CEO, Franklin United Methodist Retirement Community, Franklin, Ind.
Administrator of the Year — Children, Youth and Family Services Section: Dale S. Strassheim, president/CEO, The Baby Fold, Normal, Ill.
Chaplain of the Year: Rev. James D. Ludwick, Otterbein Retirement Living Community and Otterbein United Methodist Church, Lebanon, Ohio.
Chaplain of the Year: Rev. James A. Stinson, United Methodist Homes, Shelton, Conn.
Public Relations/Development/Marketing Director of the Year: Anthony P. Wood, St. John Towers, Augusta, Ga.

Conference-Related Unit Leader of the Year: David A. Green, Wisconsin Annual Conference, Sun Prairie, Wis.
Organization of the Year: TMM Family Services Inc., Tucson, Ariz.
Servant Leader of the Year: Gary W. Croston, Burlington United Methodist Family Services Inc., Burlington, W.Va.
Hall of Fame in Philanthropy: George E. Youmans, Wesley Glen Ministries, Macon, Ga.
Order of Good Shepherds Chapter of the Year: Wesbury United Methodist Retirement Community, Meadville, Pa.
Group Volunteer of the Year: Board of Child Care Auxiliary, Baltimore, Md.
The Chairperson’s Award of Honor: Dr. Charles W. and Arline B. Peckham, Lebanon, Ohio.
UMA is a national network of approximately 400 healthcare and human service organizations. UMA provides its members with education, accreditation, networking, communication and business services while keeping with the rich, historical Wesleyan traditions and practices of the United Methodist denomination.

News media contact: Tita Parham, 800-282-8011,, Orlando

*Parham is managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Hill is coordinator of member benefits for the United Methodist Association of Health & Welfare Ministries in Vandalia, Ohio.
   Peck is director of communications for the General Commission on United Methodist Men in Nashville, Tenn.