General News

Congratulations to the 2019 Jones Award Honorees

On Oct. 11 Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church honored four faithful members—Porter Binks, Diane Chesnut, Sheila E. Greene and Reg McQuay—with the Kenneth O. Jones Distinguished Service Award.

Every year since 2011, the Jones Awards have recognized four individuals for exemplary service to the church. The awards are named in memory of the Rev. Dr. Kenneth O. Jones, an associate minister for 33 years until his death in 1996.

We congratulate this year’s honorees and invite you to learn more about their inspiring work on behalf of our congregation.

Porter Binks

Porter Binks became a member of the church in 2010, after more than a decade of attending intermittently, as the demanding travel schedule of an accomplished photographer allowed. He has served as an Elder, as co-chair of the 2019 Pledge Campaign and as a volunteer with FAPC Serves, the Welcome team and other ministries. An active member of the Arts and Our Faith Committee, Porter conceived and helped bring to life three exhibitions in the Chesnut Gallery— Portraits of Faith (2017), featuring the life journeys of 15 long-time members; How Firm A Foundation (2017), which showcased his remarkable photography chronicling the restoration of the exterior brownstone; and the current Faith in Song (2019), a 200-year retrospective of our music ministry. He also helped to establish and lead The Word Is Out, Fifth Avenue’s first LGBTQ community group. His photography fills the pages of The VOICE (the Fifth Avenue magazine) and our website, and has been featured not only in church publications, but also in the New York Times and other venues.

“Without pause or hesitation, and with a spirit of generosity and humility, Porter jumped head first into the deep waters of servant leadership at this church,” said Executive Pastor Charlene Han Powell in presenting him with the Jones Award. “He is the kind of member, the kind of friend, the kind of servant that would make Ken Jones proud.”

Diane Chesnut

Although Diane Chesnut grew up a Methodist, she began attending Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in 2001. In her 18 years here, she has been a volunteer with Meals on Heels and the Women’s Association, among other activities. But it is her service to the Board of Trustees that truly sets her apart. She is currently serving her fourth term as a Trustee, where she has served on the Audit Committee and deployed her exemplary accounting and finance skills to the service of the church. She served with Reg McQuay as co-chair of the successful Generation to Generation capital campaign, where she monitored the budget and ensured that all capital projects were completed and paid for on schedule. A generous patron of the arts, the Gallery of Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church is named in honor of her parents, Leslie and Marguerite Chesnut. Most recently, Diane has invested untold hours assisting the church through a challenging transition in the finance department, as we prepare for new leadership in this critical staff function.

“Diane has such an impressive track record and such strong credentials in the area of accounting that I cannot begin to imagine where we would be as a church in terms of our financial reporting without her,” Senior Pastor Scott Black Johnston said. “I have a fond memory of being at a meeting about six months ago, when a fellow trustee pointed at Diane and said to me, ‘Thank God for her!’ I couldn’t agree more.”

Sheila E. Greene

Sheila E. Greene has shared her wisdom, refreshing honesty, and steadfast dedication with this faith community for more than 30 years. Though she became an active presence in Sunday worship because of her love for the organ, she expanded her engagement to include education, service and Outreach Ministries. She has served as an Elder, and as a member of the Benevolence Committee, the Advocates for Peace and Justice Committee, and one of our Associate Pastor Nominating committees. After many decades of teaching high school chemistry and biology in the New York City public school system, this member retired, but her vocation as a teacher has continued. For the past nearly two decades, she has been a fixture in the Women’s Association Tuesday afternoon Speaking English program, tutoring English language learners. A Deacon in her previous church, she served as an honorary deacon at Fifth Avenue, overseeing the Christmas Angel Tree Project for 13 years, and making regular visits to homebound and hospitalized members. She recently gifted the church with an original painting, Creation, by the New York artist Laura James.

Associate Pastor Kate Dunn said, “In December 1994, when thanking her for her work on the Christmas Angel Tree drive, Dr. Tom Tewell wrote, ‘You are a very special person who puts her faith into action! You reach out in such a tangible and authentic way to the poor and the broken. You truly are one of God’s special saints at The Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church.’ It is 25 years later, and I couldn’t agree more.”

Reg McQuay

Reg McQuay moved from his native Canada to New York City as the result of a job transfer in 1989. A cradle Presbyterian, he soon arrived at Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church. He attended for almost 10 years before becoming a member in 1997. Since then, he has been actively engaged as an officer, volunteer and spiritual leader. He was elected to three terms on the Session and played a leading role on both the Budget Committee and the Personnel Committee, providing valuable perspective on matters related to the staffing of this church. He has also became known to the wider community as one of our most eloquent lay speakers, offering honest and poignant testimony on his experience of the 9-11 attacks and his own spiritual journey. He served with Diane Chesnut as co-chair of the Generation to Generation Capital Campaign, immersing himself into a successful, $15.5 million fundraising effort that delivered benefits not only to the church but to mission partners such as Holmes Presbyterian Camp.

“An ordained Elder of the Presbyterian Church, Reg McQuay has fulfilled, again and again, his ordination vow ‘to serve the church of Jesus Christ with energy, intelligence, imagination and love,’” said Senior Pastor Scott Black Johnston. “He is a dear friend to me, and a true champion of Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church.”