The Rev. Paul Jeffrey is a missionary with the General Board of Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church, documenting the work of the church around the world as senior correspondent for response, the magazine of United Methodist Women, and as a media specialist for Action by Churches Together (the ACT Alliance), a Geneva-based global alliance of churches and church agencies responding to emergencies.
Paul has filed stories from more than 70 countries around the world, writing about everything from hurricanes to healthcare, massacres to indigenous rights, refugees to ecumenism. In the course of his work, Paul has had what he terms the “privilege of witnessing the poor become subjects of their own history rather than the objects of someone else's history.”
“I often write about what people of faith are doing to empower people at the margins to live the abundant life that's promised to them in the Gospel. I focus on why they're doing that and what the consequences of that work may be for ordinary women and men in the pews,” says Paul. “When I do that well, people in the global north begin to understand how we are intrinsically linked to our sisters and brothers in the global south, not just because they share the same Gospel, but also because they share an international economic system that manufactures poverty and injustice for the majority.”
Besides response, Paul's writing has also appeared in magazines such as the New World Outlook, the Christian Century and the National Catholic Reporter. He is the author of Recovering Memory, a book about the churches' role in the Guatemalan peace process; the book inspired “Precarious Peace,” a documentary video about the church in Guatemala. He has contributed chapters to several books on Latin American issues, and is coauthor of a study of the effects of Hurricane Mitch on the economics and political culture of Honduras.
Paul's photos have appeared in countless church and ecumenical publications, as well as in newspapers such as the Washington Post, Boston Globe, and Wall Street Journal. Magazines such as Sierra, National Geographic Explorer and Time have featured his images. Paul's photos have also been used by organizations ranging from the World Bank to the World Health Organization. A book with his photos from the Darfur region of Sudan–Where Mercy Fails–was published in 2009. A 2011 book on Haiti–Rubble Nation–also features his images.
Thirteen times Paul has won the top annual photography award of the United Methodist Association of Communicators. Nine times he has won the group’s top annual writing award. Four times he has won the Eileen Egan Award for Journalistic Excellence from Catholic Relief Services. He has also received the top annual magazine photography award of the Associated Church Press, as well as awards for the best international news writing and the best photo story from the Catholic Press Association.
Paul has interviewed hundreds of important newsmakers ranging from Pat Robertson to Evo Morales. He has himself been interviewed by journalists ranging from Bill Moyers to Amy Goodman.
In addition to covering emergencies for the ACT Alliance, Paul assists in training member agencies in communications strategies and practices.
Before his current assignment, Paul and his wife, the Rev. Dr. Lyda Pierce, served as missionaries in Central America for 20 years. Since moving to the U.S. in 2004, Paul’s writing and photography have continued to focus on similar themes, including how Christians and Christian communities struggle for justice and peace in the midst of repression, violence, and rapid economic and social change.
A native of Vancouver, Washington, Paul is an ordained elder in the Pacific Northwest Annual Conference. He served two rural churches in western Washington State before moving to Central America in 1984. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Literature and Political Science from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, and a Master of Divinity from Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California, which named him a distinguished alumnus in 2001.
Paul and Lyda have two adult children, Lucas and Abigail.
: California/Pacific Annual Conference
, California-Nevada Annual Conference
, Oregon/Idaho Annual Conference
, Pacific Northwest Annual Conference
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