Oakwood Church Senior Pastor Ray Still was announced as the winner of the annual Besserung Award Friday evening at the 101st Annual Banquet. The award is often referred to as the New Braunfels outstanding citizen’s award and is designed to honor an individual who is currently providing a significant contribution to the community through their civic activities.
More than 800 community and business leaders were in attendance at the banquet to hear the announcement. The name of the winner was kept as a secret until the moment of the presentation. This honor recognizes the community betterment activities of the recipient. Still served as the Chair of the City Bond Advisory Committee in both 2013 and 2019.
Still distinguished himself as a judicious steward of the city, providing his time, talent, and expertise to the Bond Advisory Committee from January through October of 2019. He brought his passion, intellect, insight, experience, and resources to the table and challenged his fellow committee members and held the city staff accountable throughout the process to develop the four propositions. Voters recognized the innovative ideas, strategic thinking, and tireless efforts of Still and his team of volunteers with a city record percentage voting in favor for all four ballots items.
“When our City leaders knew it was time in early 2019 for another bond issue effort to follow up on the successful on in 2013, they looked no further than the person who led the committee six years earlier,” said Shane Wolf, New Braunfels Chamber Outgoing Chair of the Board, who announced the award. “History repeated itself with another successful election, led by our community Pastor Emeritus and 2019 Besserung recipient.”
Still has led Oakwood Church for more than 25 years, where his leadership has grown the congregation from 400 members to more than 5,800 with six services each Sunday. In 2008, Still led the effort to establish New Braunfels Christian Ministries and its Volunteers in Medicine clinic.
He also led efforts that resulted in healthy snacks and meals being provided daily to more than 250 under-resourced students through the Kids’ Club program and he has championed the Kids’ Club garden, which provides fresh produce for Kids’ Club meals, students’ families, and Volunteers in Medicine patients. Still is also involved with the Harvest Food Pantry, the Oakwood Counseling Center, has completed his service as Chairman of Howard Payne University’s Board of Trustees, and much, much more.
The announcement of the Besserung Award winner capped off the evening, but prior to that the banquet program included the premier of a special film celebrating the City’s 175th Anniversary, a surprise performance by renowned accordionist Alex Meixner, several award recognitions, and the ceremonial passing of the gavel from Outgoing Chair Shane Wolf of Rockin ‘R’ River Rides to the 2020 Chair of the Board Wes Studdard of Bluebonnet Motors.
The award recognitions included the Chamber’s Blue Coat Ambassador program recognizing their new 2019 Senior Blue Coats and Blue Coats and announcing award winners Debbie Meek as the Blue Coat of the Year and Joe Timmins as the Senior Blue Coat of the Year.
Chair of the Board Award winners and Honors Hall inductees were recognized next. The Chair of the Board Award honors individuals who have made a significant contribution to the community in a specific field of civic endeavor. No more than six recipients may be named in a calendar year. The 2019 Chair of the Board Award winners were J.P. Medina, Ian Perez, Dr. Whitney Mitchell, Jan Kingsbury, Sherry Harrison, and Shelley Bujnoch.
The Hall of Honor Award recognizes individuals who have participated in civic activities over many years and are at least 50 years of age. A maximum of three recipients may be named in a calendar year and their photograph will be included as a permanent exhibit in the Chamber’s Honors Hall. The 2019 Hall of Honor inductees were Bennie Bock, Robin Jeffers, and Charles Stephens.
CLICK HERE to view photos from the banquet.