Ashley Norton is a mission intern with the General Board of Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church, serving as a community organizer and advocate for Open Doors—United Methodists on Mission, a ministry of the Mobile District of the Alabama-West Florida Annual Conference.
Mission interns serve half of their three-year terms in international assignments and half in their home countries. Ashley was commissioned in August 2011. His international placement was with Haitian Artisans for Peace International (HAPI) in Mizak, a mountainous section of southeast Haiti. HAPI is a fair-trade artisan cooperative benefitting families and communities in an area where 75 percent of a population of 35,000 have incomes of less than $1.00 (US) per day.
Open Doors incorporates the missional ministries of the Mobile District. Its goals are to increase the level of community engagement by United Methodist churches and individuals; increase opportunities for the poor and marginalized by launching creative new ministries and strengthening existing ones; meet the spiritual, physical, emotional, and educational needs in area communities; increase available resources for mission; and partner with others to advance the cause of Christ as we share his love in practical, life-changing ways.
One component is focused on helping congregations transition from an institutional model of church to a missional one. Another is a summer internship for college students focused on the inner city. The ideal is ministry with, not “to” or “for” people, including the poor.
Ash Norton is from Kalamazoo, Michigan, where he is a member of Westwood United Methodist Church in the Western Michigan Conference. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in geography from West Michigan University in 2007. During his college years, he worked as a peer minister managing a small student-led café at his campus ministry. He spent two summers repairing bicycles and has exceptional computer skills. He also enjoys playing games with and telling stories to children. He was a camp counselor in the summer of 2009.
Not involved in a Christian household until he was a teenager, Ash studied Christianity to discover the blueprint for life. He experienced spiritual growth through activities at the Wesley Foundation at his university, and found resonance in Christian views of social justice.
"My passion, education, and skill sets are harmonious with mission service," he says. "My wife, Stephanie (also a mission intern) and I are partners in the pursuit of mission. We share God's call."
: West Michigan Annual Conference
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