Religious Life

38th Annual Steel-Hendrix Banquet

March 6, 2023 at 5:30 p.m.

In 1984, Hendrix College inaugurated the annual Steel-Hendrix Award Lectureship to celebrate 100 years of its official relationship with the United Methodist Church. The award was named in honor of Marshall T. Steel, a prominent minister and former president of the College. 

The Marshall T. Steel Center will honor four extraordinary church and community leaders at the 38th Annual Steel-Hendrix Awards Banquet held at Hendrix College, Student Life and Technology Center, Worsham Hall.

Mary and Ira Brumley award for Religious Education

Brenda Norwood Henson Headshot - 2022

Brenda Norwood Henson

Brenda grew up as part of a big family on her parents’ farm in west Pulaski County. Many times, while observing geese and their seasonal flight, she wondered what it would be like to travel over and beyond the nearby river, lush valley, and beautiful mountains that surrounded the farm. As God would have it, those wonderings would eventually become reality. 

Brenda obtained a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a minor in history from Philander Smith College of Little Rock. She put her degree to work as the first supervisor and manager of Baptist Outpatient Center & Emergency Room Admissions and Patient Accounts Department, respectively.  In 1985, her friend and mentor, the Rev. Dr. Negail Riley, suggested Brenda apply to become an associate treasurer for the General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM). She stepped out in faith to apply, was offered the position, and, with her two sons, moved to New Jersey to work in New York City. This role enabled her to engage with people from all over the world, expanded her Christian understandings through the eyes, experiences, and history of others, and provided her a unique global perspective. Her love of God expanded through her GBGM experiences, as did a deeper appreciation of the global and connectional missional impact of the work that took place. It was easier to see how the essential inter-connectedness of mission allows us to “hold hands” here and around the world. 

After 16 years with GBGM and travels that took her over many rivers, lush valleys, and beautiful mountains around the world, Brenda returned to Little Rock and again became active in the local church where it all began: St. Paul-Maumelle UMC, where she has served as the Church Council chair. She also has continued a life of service through the annual conference and United Methodist Women (now United Women in Faith), where she has served as Central District President. She currently serves on the Central District Committee on Ordained Ministry and as St. Paul’s lay member to Annual Conference, and previously chaired the Arkansas Conference Board of Global Ministries. Her passion for God’s mission remains strong, especially mission with and for the young – children, youth, and young adults – and her passion for her family: her son and five grandchildren.  

Ethel K. Millar Award for Religion and Social Awareness

Janice & Byron Mann - 2022

Janice and Byron Mann

Byron and Janice Mann got married in, and started their family while attending, a small rural church in southwest Arkansas, where they began serving in youth ministry. They moved out of state for a short time, then returned home to a new church plant where they raised their children and continued in youth ministry. As time passed, the age gap with youth widened and they began to question whether their ministry field should change. God used a major ice storm to develop within the Manns a passion for disaster response as their local church sheltered those affected by the storm of December 2000. They were hooked. Soon their local emergency manager asked them to handle mass care and shelter management for that county. They went on to organize care for evacuees of several hurricane events. Janice was instrumental in establishing a local Community Organization Active in Disaster (COAD) in that county. Byron experienced his call into ministry during this time and notified his District Superintendent. While he and Janice were serving with a Hurricane Katrina recovery team in Mississippi in 2006, the phone call came asking him to serve as local pastor to two small rural churches in southwest Arkansas. 

In 2009, the Manns to trained and volunteered with the Arkansas Conference of the United Methodist Church as District Disaster Response Coordinators. In 2011, they became Conference Disaster Response Coordinators and led the United Methodist response in several small flood and tornado events between 2011 and 2014. During this time, they became better acquainted with the Arkansas Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (AR VOAD). Byron also served as Volunteers in Mission Coordinator beginning in 2012 and has led numerous work teams, in both disaster response and recovery. 

In April 2014, after a devastating tornado struck central Arkansas, Janice left her 32-year career in medical technology and served two years as recovery coordinator for that event. Byron sold his interest in a small sand and gravel business and put his background in construction and heavy equipment operation to work as construction coordinator for the recovery effort. To God be the glory—with the financial support of Arkansas United Methodists and the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), and with the help of partner agencies and organizations, 31 homes were rebuilt, and many others replaced and repaired.  

When recovery ended, Byron and Janice continued to lead Arkansas Conference response and to help coordinate recovery efforts in the state. Byron continued doing damage assessments, construction coordination, volunteer coordination, leading teams and meeting needs during disaster response and recovery. Janice continued the work as AR VOAD chairperson from 2016 to 2018, then served on the Executive Committee and chaired their Preparedness and Recovery Committee until she and Byron retired from disaster response at the end of 2021. She enjoyed promoting VOAD and helping to organize COADs and Long-Term Recovery Groups in local communities. Byron and Janice are thankful to God for His leading and guiding as they served and for the support of the Conference, UMCOR, and the volunteers and partners God put in their path. It was a joy and a blessing for them to work alongside those with the same passion, doing the same thing for the same reason: sharing God’s love and care for all. 

The Manns started their retirement home in 2013, just before the tornado of 2014. They put off moving into it while they served in recovery efforts but did move in 2016. Byron now serves as pastor of the local Methodist congregation in Jasper, Arkansas. He and Janice still volunteer, including as Early Response Team trainers for the Arkansas Conference and evaluating new trainers for UMCOR. They are enjoying retirement while also getting more involved in their local community. In addition to serving at church, they volunteer at the local food room, the local emergency preparedness committee (Byron is the current chair) and hope to establish a COAD in their home county. They have two children and six grandchildren. In their spare time, they attend their grandchildren’s events, travel, spend time with family, garden, and explore Newton County backroads while riding side by sides with friends from church and community; Byron enjoys working in his shop; and they both enjoy quality time on their porch with each other and their fur babies, Abby and Ziva. 

Hendrix College Youth Minister of the Year 

McClure. Lorrie - 2021

Carissa Tarkington

Carissa Tarkington has been in youth ministry for over twenty years. She has served United Methodist congregations in Conway, Mount Vernon, Texas, and Pine Bluff and has been the Director of Children’s and Youth Ministry for five years at First United Methodist Church of West Memphis. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Youth Ministry and a Master of Arts in Youth and Young Adult Ministry from Southwestern College.  

While in West Memphis, she has formed several new ministries to serve the families of the congregation and the community by offering local service opportunities and church family trips to help families connect to each other and their faith. Recently she helped start Project Neuro, a ministry that helps neurodivergent youth and young adults learn executive functioning and social skills, further their spiritual development, and connect them to their community.

Carissa is a resource adult on the Youth Service Fund task force for the Arkansas Conference Council on Youth Ministries (ACCYM). She enjoys helping youth connect to their faith through study and service, helping them understand how to use what they are passionate about to serve God and others. Carissa has been married to Michael “Tark” Tarkington for over 23 years, partnering in ministry together. They have two sons, Michael and Westley. She enjoys writing and creating interactive curriculum to use in her ministry with children and youth.

About the Steel-Hendrix Awards

In 1984, Hendrix College inaugurated the annual Steel-Hendrix Award Lectureship to celebrate 100 years of its official relationship with the United Methodist Church. The award was named in honor of Marshall T. Steel, a prominent minister and former president of the College.


Tickets cost: $25 per person.

To purchase with a credit card (fees apply), click here

To pay by check, please email

Checks can be mailed to:

Hendrix College
Attn: Chaplain's office
1600 Washington Ave.
Conway, AR  72032