Stephanie 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. Stephanie was commissioned in August 2011. Her 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 to 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.
Stephanie is a native of Kalamazoo, Michigan, where she is a member of the Westwood United Methodist Church in the West Michigan Conference. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English education from Western Michigan University in 2009. During her college years, she worked in retail and after graduation taught English and ESL. Stephanie was active in the Wesley Foundation of Kalamazoo during her student years.
"When I was 12 years old, I asked my family if we could go to church," Stephanie recalls. "We began attending that year and I became involved in the youth group, was baptized, and confirmed. [In college] I was in charge of the fellowship ministries at Wesley. Ash (her husband, also a mission intern) and I led youth groups, managed the fair trade coffee account, engaged in mission, and led Vacation Bible School. My faith is based in daily prayer and fellowship with God's children."
Stephanie says that after graduation from college she "felt called to use my skill set and passion for social justice to work for the church."
: West Michigan Annual Conference
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