United Methodist Missionaries Will Be Commissioned at Annual Conferences
One by one, nine men and women removed their shoes, placed them in the chapel aisle and sat in cloth-covered chairs while Global Ministries mission executives symbolically washed their feet. The blessing followed three weeks of intensive training in spiritual formation, cross-cultural awareness, team building and conflict resolution. An additional person was trained but unable to attend the service of blessing.
The group is being sent into missionary service. Eight will be commissioned during annual conferences this spring.
Bishop Gabriel Unda Yemba, who leads the new East Congo Episcopal Area in the Democratic Republic of Congo, offered a message of encouragement during the service as he said, “God is washing even your heart, so that you will be ready. God will remove the fear and keep love in your heart.”
In a litany recalling the new missionaries’ journeys and preparation, missionary trainer Cathy Whitlach said:
It’s all a process, finally… here you are, ready to be commissioned,
and here we are,
Asking God’s blessing as you continue your missionary journey.
We are so proud of you.
Our hearts are filled with hope
for what God will continue to do through you.
More than 150 people witnessed the blessing at the Interchurch Center Chapel in New York City. Among them were Conference Secretaries for Global Ministries (CSGM) and other representatives from nearly every annual conference in the United States. They took part in the service as they concluded a three-day summit with Global Ministries staff.
Earlier that morning, the missionaries had shared with the CSGMs the stories of their calls into mission. The Rev. Hyo-Won Park, a pastor who is originally from South Korea and will serve in Russia, recalled the impact of his Sunday school teacher, who helped him devote himself to the church from the time he was in high school. The Rev. Nancy Robinson is a deacon who will serve in Sierra Leone with her husband, Kip. A child of missionaries, she lived in Africa when she was young. “Those early years instilled in me a love for community and a keen awareness of the challenges and joys of living cross-culturally.”
Daria and Roman Hofer are a missionary couple from Switzerland whose service is co-sponsored by Global Ministries and Connexio, the United Methodist mission board for Switzerland and France. Commissioned in February at the Swiss/France Annual Conference, they will serve in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The arrangement for their service grew out of two partnership round table meetings led by local leaders in the DRC. Thomas Kemper, chief executive of Global Ministries, said, “I am excited by this collaboration. It is a powerful example of the possibilities that emerge from the round table model of mission.”
The General Board of Global Ministries usually commissions United Methodist missionaries as a group. This year, however, they will be commissioned individually at annual conferences with a representative from Global Ministries participating. Missionary Services executive Judy Chung said that, with the commissionings at annual conferences, “United Methodists are reminded that the passion for mission is grown and nurtured in the local church.” For the missionaries, she added, “The connection with their home community is a supportive blessing as they prepare to serve in places around the world.”
Learn how your church can enter a covenant relationship with any of these missionaries. Please keep them in prayer as they live out God’s call.
Press contact: Melissa Hinnen, United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries, firstname.lastname@example.org, 212.860.3833
Daria and Roman Hofer, Global Ministries’ missionaries, receive a blessing from (l-r) Andreas Stämpfli, Bishop Patrick Streiff, and Pastor Christina Forster during a service in a Swiss-French church in February. The Hofers, who are based in the Lubumbashi, DRC, are serving as coordinators of mission relations between the South Congo Episcopal Area and its partners in Europe and the US.
Photo Credit: Sigmar Friedrich