Welcome! The live experience has concluded, but please enjoy a replay of the event above.

Listening to these awardees literally brought tears to my eyes. God’s love is shown through their ministries.

John M. EsquivelLay Leader

How will I ever go to sleep with all of the inspiration you have all given us tonight. God Bless you!!!

Angie KiddExecutive Director, Common Grace Ministries

I am inspired and grateful for the work, vision, mission of Wesleyan Investive, and the inspired and inspiring ministry of all those honored tonight. Thank you!

Dan Wilson-FeyTreasurer, Oregon-Idaho Conference

Thank you to everyone who left such moving comments during the live event! You helped make the night special for our recipients and for us. 

Meet the 2021 recipients


Attorney, Mentor, Restorative Justice Practitioner – Chicago, Ill

Founder of Northside Transformative Law Center, a space where community members, families, and professionals come together to advocate for and accompany individuals who are navigating the criminal justice system; Founder of Circles and Ciphers, a hip-hop infused restorative justice organization for young people impacted by violence; Connected to United Church of Rogers Park, a United Methodist congregation.


Pastor, Public Theologian, National Leader in the Multi-Faith Movement for Justice – Nashville, TN

Founder and Executive Director of Faith Matters Network, whose mission is to catalyze personal and social change by equipping community organizers, faith leaders, and activists with resources for connection, spiritual sustainability, and accompaniment. Co-Founder of People’s Supper, which has gathered more than 10,000 people around tables since 2016 for bridging and healing conversations. Named one of 15 Faith Leaders to Watch by the Center for American Progress and Associate Minister, Greater Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church.


Pastor, Entrepreneur, Professor, Author – Portland, OR

Co-Founder of The Voices Project, which gathers leaders of color across fields, who pursue and work for change, for important conversations about the current challenges and triumphs within communities of color and their role as cultural influencers. Author of Embrace: God’s Radical Shalom for a Divided World, 2016. Director of Innovation for an Engaged Church in the Greater Northwest Area of the UMC.


The Original “Roving Listener”, Artist, Neighborhood Organizer –Indianapolis, IN

Founder of The Learning Tree, a non-profit that uses the Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) approach with city governments and organizations to improve the quality of lives of people, communities, schools and businesses. Named one of the eight most influential neighborhood organizers on the ground by the Kettering
Foundation. Connected to Broadway United Methodist Church.


Pastor, Entrepreneur, Theologian, Professor, Connector – Houston, TX

Co-Founder and Co-Managing Director of projectCURATE, a non-profit educational and social enterprise incubator that seeks to build bridges across cultural, economic, religious, and racial divides Co-Founder and Executive Director of Iconoclast Artists, a creative writing and arts program that gives young creative minds a chance to speak through written, visual, and performance art. Executive Pastor at Chapelwood United Methodist Church.



Named after Wesleyan Investive President Tom Locke who holds a strong belief that investment in bold, enterprising leaders with inventive approaches to ministry not only advances the church but creates communities of genuine human flourishing. And by doing so, changes the world. Our aim is to honor spiritual entrepreneurs who have envisioned a broader mission field and have taken risks to make their God-sized dreams a reality.

In addition to the recognition, The Tom Locke Innovative Leader Award includes an invitation to participate in a cohort with fellow 2021 award recipients, so that they may continue to learn from each other and grow together and a cash award to honor their innovation and dedication.


The selection committee considered five foundational criteria in the process, looking for leaders who:

1 Have proven themselves in the innovation space and demonstrated evidence indicating great potential for the future

2 Positively impact the Methodist ecosystem

3 Live out of a deep spiritual faith and work at the intersection of faith and individual and communal transformation

4 Invest in people, populations, and communities not currently effectively reached or well-resourced, especially by the church

5 Are committed to life-long learning with a willingness to experiment, fail, reflect, learn and try again

Special Performance by Iconoclast Artist Xach Blunt



Wesleyan Investive, formerly the United Methodist Development Fund, strengthens the mission of The United Methodist Church in traditional congregations and non-traditional faith communities through strategic partnerships, the promotion of entrepreneurial leadership, and impact investments that provide healthy returns while funding life-changing ministry through loans.

Over the course of our 50+ year history, we have made over 2,000 loans totaling more than $500 million, encouraging churches across the United States to pursue their God-sized dreams






Tom’s visionary leadership has resulted in significant growth and service to the United Methodist community. As president of the Texas Methodist Foundation (TMF) since 1993, he not only has managed phenomenal growth in assets but, more importantly, has created a culture that continually asks how those resources can be used most effectively to help the church stand to the full height of the gospel in a dramatically changing, emerging landscape. “What would it be like if …” is an oft-repeated Tom Locke phrase that has led to a reputation for unparalleled financial services and a Leadership Ministry nationally recognized for accelerating courageous leadership. At the helm of Wesleyan Investive, Locke has established a clarity of purpose and strong financial performance while continuing a history of providing loans to churches where funding is not easily accessible such as small, rural, ethnically diverse, and new churches. In addition, he has leveraged TMF’s purpose and leadership work to embolden innovation and entrepreneurial ministry on a national level.

“We are thrilled to honor these remarkable individuals who show us a new imagination for what the church can do for the sake of the world. It is Tom’s vision that inspired us to create this award in his honor. He saw a critical need for courageous, creative leadership in the church and responded with a spirit of entrepreneurship and financial resources to help identify and embolden those making a difference in our communities.”


Wesleyan Investive Board Chair