Utterback Receives Nehemiah Award

Rev. J. Michael Utterback, director of Ministry to Israel (MTI), a department within the Care and Benevolence Division of the Church of God, has been named the 2019 recipient of the Nehemiah Award from the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ).

The ICEJ presents its annual Nehemiah Award to a Christian leader who has demonstrated a lifetime of achievements in building support for Israel and the Jewish people.

Michael Utterback displays the Nehemiah Award received during the Feast of Tabernacles celebration in Jerusalem.

In 1988, Utterback established Concern for Israel, which was eventually re-named Ministry to Israel in 1994, as a special outreach of the denomination to the nation of Israel. It came in response to Utterback’s unique vision and calling to become engaged in the great ingathering of the Jewish people back to their ancient homeland. Working with Utterback to establish MTI as a ministry within the Church of God was the late John D. Nichols, who was serving on the Executive Committee

In 1991, Michael led Ministry to Israel to begin partnering with various organizations to assist Jewish families in making the journey home to Israel (Aliyah). Over the next 30-plus years, he thrust himself into facilitating Aliyah, especially across the vast expanses of the Former Soviet Union and South America, from sponsoring transport operations and airline flights, to planting new immigrants securely in the land of Israel. Including the Aliyah efforts of the ICEJ, Ezra International and Ministry to Israel, Utterback has assisted over 170,000 Jewish people to return to Israel. Additionally, MTI has helped thousands of new immigrants through four centers across Israel, including 16,000 in the past year alone.

For over three decades, Utterback has also spoken in churches, conferences and other forums worldwide, to build understanding and support for Israel. His previous roles with the ICEJ included International Director, Liaison to Churches, and a member of their International Board of Trustees.

Utterback, as Director of Ministry to Israel, remains active in Aliyah and absorption efforts. He also serves in a volunteer role as the International Director for Ezra International. Michael and his wife Gina have two daughters and seven grandchildren.

To hear the presentation and Utterback’s acceptance speech given during the Feast of Tabernacles celebration in Jerusalem on October 17, click on the link below:


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