Commissioning: From Everywhere to EverywhereBy Julia Kayser
On Friday, August 3, 2012, Global Ministries commissioned its 61st class of US-2s and its 35th class of Mission Interns at Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Arlington, Virginia. More than 200 people gathered for this exciting event. The ceremony was part of the Living Stones for Transformation conference. Bishop Minerva Carcaño officiated as 34 Young Adults in Mission—the largest group in several years—were sent forth into the world. (Two others will be commissioned remotely.) This year’s Young Adults in Mission, aged 20-30, are a more diverse group than ever. Missionaries hailed from all over the United States, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Philippines, South Korea, Peru, Ukraine, and Liberia.
US-2s commit to two years of service in the United States. Mission Interns spend 18 months serving abroad and 18 months in their home countries, for a total of three years of service. Global Ministries provides financial, logistical, educational, and emotional support for these young people as they respond to God’s call. In addition, the Young Adult Mission Services office helps place all of these missionaries with organizations that will be able to use their gifts and talents.
This year’s placements are varied. From a Wesley Foundation Campus Community Liaison in Tampa, Florida, to a Women’s Shelter Advocate at the Navajo United Methodist Center in New Mexico, our US-2s will be engaged in jobs that build community. They have built a covenant together, and here is one excerpt: “We advocate for a humanity of equality, mercy, compassion, and love. We pursue things that do not seem humanly possible, knowing through faith in God that all things are possible.”
Our Mission Interns will travel far and wide. For example, three of them will travel to Brazil to work as Social Educators for the Shade and Fresh Water project. Two more are bound for Geneva, Switzerland, where they will act as Advocacy and Solidarity Officers with the World Student Christian Federation. Kelly Schaefer hopes to “get really muddy” while farming in an intentional community at Japan’s Asian Rural Institute. “We remember that many of God’s people are oppressed,” says part of the covenant that this group wrote together. “Our task is to become co-creators of God’s work of liberation, justice, and faith…. We will be genuine, authentic, and present with each other in offering solidarity.”
At the service, Bishop Carcaño’s message to the young adults and the assembled audience was clear: we are called not only to serve, but to transform the world. She told three stories of personal transformation, each of which prompted her to pick up a stone to remember that moment. The first was a time when she learned to find shark’s teeth on the beach, and it opened her eyes. “I now see so much more of the immense gift of God’s creation,” she said.
Her next stone represented a time in a Spanish-speaking country when she had witnessed the suffering of mothers whose children had disappeared under the thumb of a brutal and oppressive regime. That trip taught her “the critical importance of speaking up and showing up for each other wherever life is threatened by the forces of evil.”
Bishop Carcaño’s third and final story took place in Africa. Though she had been warned not to talk about the LGBTQ community because it was not relevant to Africa, when she arrived at her conference, “African LGBTQ persons began to gather around us telling us their stories of great suffering and pain.” This experience reminds Bishop Carcaño that “we cannot exclude anyone or allow the exclusion of others.”
“I assure you that the world has not been transformed enough,” Bishop Carcaño concluded. “There is work for you to do, holy, sacred work.” Church leaders prayed over the young adults as Bishop Carcaño laid hands on them. Each missionary was given an anchor cross to symbolize the way that mission is grounded in faith. “Be unafraid to move mountains, to be shaped by living water, to change the flow of the future,” Bishop Carcaño told them. "The world may be a fountain of justice and peace for all.” The assembled congregation affirmed each young person’s calling into mission.
Please keep our newest class of US-2s and Mission Interns in your prayers this month as they take the gospel into the world. You can support our Young Adult Mission Services office by donating to Advance #13105Z (Mission Interns) and #982874 (US-2s).