Global Ministries

The United Methodist Church

Connecting the Church in Mission

Global Ministries - ConnectNMission
December 2015 · Issue 3

In this issue of the Global Health newsletter: Imagine No Malaria Tops Giving Tuesday Gifts; Global Health Partners with Dillard University for Diabetes Awareness Community Event; Clinical Pastoral Education Prepares Seminarians for Recovery Ministry

Thank you
On Dec. 1, 2015, UMC #GivingTuesday, United Methodists around the world demonstrated inspiring generosity through their contributions. Nearly 6,000 donors from 27 countries donated $2.8 million through The Advance to support mission and ministries around the world. The Imagine No Malaria program received the most dollars at $139,365. We say a big thank you to all of our donors — your gifts of hope are making a difference all over the world. See more on UMC #GivingTuesday gifts here.

Diabetes Awareness Month
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 29.1 million Americans have diabetes and 86 million more have prediabetes. In recognition of Diabetes Awareness Month, Dillard University’s Office of Community Relations in New Orleans, La. held a community event titled Healthy Food for a Healthy Life on Nov. 30, 2015. This event was co-sponsored by the Global Health unit through the Harry R. Kendall Project grant. Approximately 80 people from the local community attended and 36 were tested for diabetes with 10 percent testing positive. The event also hosted a farmers market with chef-taught cooking classes utilizing the newly purchased vegetables. Other experts, including a nutritionist and diabetes educator, were on hand to work with the local community. Experts at the CDC say one out of four people are unaware they have diabetes. This means events such as this are important to provide health education and screenings, and to increase access to fresh produce in economically deprived areas of the United States. You can get information on how to prevent diabetes here.

Grant Spencer outside of the Dignity Center
“Lord, I am scared. Please help.” This was the quick prayer uttered by Grant Spencer, as he faced a drunken and angry man outside of the Dignity Center, a ministry of Hennepin Avenue UMC in Minneapolis, Minn. Dignity Center helps people in extreme poverty to secure shelter, gain employment, and resolve legal issues.

Spencer went on to say: “I stood face to face with Fred,* a young man angry that he could not enter the center to receive food as he often did, because he was drunk. It turns out Fred was not alone! Right beside him was another gentleman about the same age and equally mad and drunk. Just behind him but down a few steps were five more people, all mad and none of them knew who stood before them. To these angry men I was just this big, white guy who was keeping them out! I must admit that my first reaction was to retreat. Maybe I would have, if I did not know that the young alcoholic before me was just sick. So I listened and tried to be as fully present as I could be for Fred. I just stood there and took it all in as he continued to vent his rage and I tried, as much as a tall white guy could, to join him in his suffering. As we stood looking at each other it seemed the fog in his eyes lifted, and his arms shot out at me to give me a hug. And we hugged each other, just outside the doors of the Dignity Center, both bathing in God’s grace. In that moment I was reminded again that ministry is done to find Christ in the other.”

For many pastors and ministers, substance use disorders are a mystery and they feel ill equipped to support those impacted by their own or a loved one's addiction. The Special Program on Substance Abuse and Related Violence (SPSARV) provides grants to support students enrolled in the Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) in Recovery Ministries Program of the Greater Minneapolis Council of Churches. These grants help seminary students develop skills for and practice providing spiritual care to persons struggling with the disease of addiction. SPSARV supports United Methodist placement sites, so that seminarians and pastors can fulfill their clinical practice hours in a substance abuse ministry setting. The story above is that of former CPE student and United Methodist seminarian, Grant Spencer. Grant was able to deepen his ministry through one-on-one relationships that he fostered during his CPE training. Contact SPSARV at for more information about CPE in Recovery Ministries.

* Fred is a pseudonym

Global Health supports public health programs in the United States that provide opportunities for physical activities, promote healthy diet and nutrition, encourage prevention of and recovery from substance use disorders, and promote the mental well-being of members of the congregation and community. Global Health also supports efforts to create abundant health in economically vulnerable communities around the world by protecting children and disadvantaged adults from preventable causes of death and disease through health projects in 23 countries, including malaria control, maternal and child health, health promotion, and substance abuse prevention and recovery. Your gifts to Global Health Advance #3021770 help make this work possible.

Photo 1: Grant Spencer outside of the Dignity Center. Photo by Debra Brecht