United Methodist Volunteers in Mission began as a grass roots movement through the local church as United Methodist felt called to express their faith through hands-on mission. During 1972 to 1974, a group of individuals from the Southeastern Jurisdiction (SEJ) formed a steering committee to organize what has become known as United Methodist Volunteers in Mission (UMVIM). UMVIM became an agency of the Southeastern Jurisdiction Administrative Council in 1976. In 1980, the General Conference officially sanctioned UMVIM and directed the General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM) to affirm Volunteers in Mission as an authentic form of personal missionary involvement and devise appropriate structure to interpret and implement opportunities for mission volunteers in the global community (301.14 Book of Discipline 2008).
The UMVIM motto, Christian Love in Action, is taken from 1 John 3:18, in which Christians are asked to love not in word or speech, but in truth and action. UMVIM has worked closely with the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) by providing teams to assist in the recovery from natural disasters and violent conflicts.
Rev. David and Dr. Mary Sue Lowry, GBGM missionaries serving in Chile, were the first coordinators, but served only part-time in 1974. They returned to Chile in September 1975. The Office of Coordination opened in Atlanta, Georgia in August 1975, but had no one in the coordinator's position for almost a year until Rev. Thomas Curtis, Sr., a GBGM missionary who served in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), agreed to serve. He served from 1976 to 1995; Rev. and Mrs. Walt Whitehurst, GBGM missionaries who served in Chile, served as coordinators from 1995 to 1999; and Rev. Nick Elliott, South Carolina Conference ordained elder, served from 1999 to 2009. The office relocated to Birmingham, Alabama, January 2011.
Volunteers have served in six continents, often, but not always, in nations with Methodist churches. UMVIM, SEJ continues to manage the denominations international volunteer project list and collaborate with the other jurisdictional coordinators, GBGM Mission Volunteers and partners to address needs throughout the world.
Goals & Objectives
a.) To empower servants of Jesus Christ as short-term missionaries to meet the needs of the world.
b.) To provide training, resources and opportunities for college-aged students and young adults.
c.) To increase team leaders each year for affectively short-term mission service.
d.) To have leadership equipped to do UVMIM team leader training in each of the SEJ annual conference by 2015.
e.) To engage five new youth and young adult teams each year with projects.
a.) Created curriculum and resources for UMVIM, SEJ Team Leader Train the Trainer program.
b.) Train leaders within each SEJ annual conference to serve as UMVIM team leader trainers.
c.) Assist international and conference leadership including missionaries in identifying appropriate projects for volunteers.
d.) Connect SEJ Wesley Foundations with training and mission opportunities.
e.) Connect SEJ Youth Directors with training and mission opportunities.