The Spirit’s Surprising Activity: Reimagining Global Ministries
By Mary Andreolli
“The Spirit is always moving to sweep the church into a new mission age.” This powerful awareness is the culmination of the Mission Theology statement crafted in 2011 by directors of the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries. The statement guides the participation of the worldwide agency in Missio Dei—God’s mission.
The statement also frames Global Ministries’ role within the denomination’s intent to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. The transforming power belongs to God; Global Ministries is in mission to witness to what God has done and is doing, and to learn from what God is doing in every place.
In response to God’s prompting a new mission age, Global Ministries began two years ago to reimagine its work. With the assurance that God was leading the agency to new and surprising activity, Global Ministries’ next steps were relocating, reshaping, and reorganizing itself following the guidance of the Holy Spirit. These three actions now help Global Ministries define where and how it connects the local and global church in mission.
A graphic design of the new interior of the Global Ministries headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. Image: Jim Winer / Make3
Relocating — From New York City to Atlanta
After nearly 200 years in New York City, Global Ministries will move its headquarters to Atlanta, Ga., in August 2016. This move exemplifies the agency’s openness and commitment to how God continues to work out God’s purposes in this new mission age. Atlanta became the “city of choice” for the following reasons:
- Opportunities to partner with centers of theological education, such as the United Methodist-related Candler School of Theology and Gammon Theological Seminary, important in missionary training
- Proximity to major public health institutions, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health
- A major international airport with extensive non-stop service to global destinations
- Lower costs of living and business operations; additional cost savings will result from expanding shared services among United Methodist general agencies
- Regular interaction with a local congregation, made possible as Global Ministries acquired and will continue to share the buildings of Grace United Methodist Church
Global Ministries will continue a liaison presence with the United Nations in New York.
Reshaping — A Worldwide Network of Global Mission Connections
Global Ministries is reshaping itself as an agency that comprises global mission connections. In doing so, it recognizes that ours is a multi-centered world in which Christianity’s center of gravity has shifted to the Global South and East. These changes invite dialogue and mutuality among local churches, mission partners, and the world’s vulnerable people. In April 2016, Global Ministries opened its first global mission connection, in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It did so in collaboration with Discipleship Ministries’ Upper Room devotional guide. Throughout the remainder of 2016 and in 2017, Global Ministries will establish global mission connections in Seoul, South Korea, for Asia and at a site to be determined in Africa. The mission connections will play an important role in assessing the possibilities of establishing new mission initiatives. There also will be a U.S. regional mission office at Global Ministries’ headquarters in Atlanta.
“Creating global mission connections in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the U.S. will enable Global Ministries to explore mission in deeper ways through the relationships we will be able to form on the ground in key geographic regions,” said Thomas Kemper, Global Ministries’ general secretary. Kemper added, “It’s exciting to see Global Ministries take this next step in its evolution as the worldwide mission agency of The United Methodist Church. The mission belongs to God; we are connectors in mission.”
At the heart of Global Ministries’ efforts to connect the local and global church in mission is the new Center for Mission Innovation. The center will highlight best practices in mission, explore new mission realities, and create innovative models to align with the changing mission landscapes of the 21st century. The center will also organize, host, and lead events to explore and learn from new mission perspectives arising at local and global levels.
International Coaching Network
Over the next two years, Global Ministries will develop a coaching program at Africa University in Zimbabwe. Expected results will include a peer-to-peer coaching network, a team of faculty prepared to lead coach training, and virtual and onsite university courses in coach training for community and church leaders in Zimbabwe, Africa, and beyond. As more coaches are trained, the growing coaching network will offer them encouragement as they support leaders in a wide variety of fields.
Today, more than 350 missionaries serve in 60 countries around the world. To facilitate mission and draw more focus to those who dedicate themselves to mission “from everywhere to everywhere,” Global Ministries’ former Mission and Evangelism unit has been reshaped into Missionary Service. One of its expanding programs is Global Mission Fellows, which places young adults between ages 20 and 30 in service for two years, often in justice ministries.
Global Health is a renewed priority of Global Ministries, now constituting a distinct unit working in close collaboration with the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR). As the denomination’s Imagine No Malaria campaign draws to a close, the next step in its commitment to Global Health is a new signature health initiative that will be formally introduced in Portland. The new initiative is Abundant Health: Our Promise to Children. Its goal is to reach 1 million children with lifesaving interventions by 2020. Its name is derived from the Gospel of John 10:10: “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (NRSV)
The U.S. component of the Abundant Health initiative is geared toward engaging 10,000 churches to organize and implement health solutions in the parish and its neighboring communities.
The motivation to launch Abundant Health: Our Promise to Children emerged from an extensive survey of persons in 59 countries. The results show that the top international health challenges are maternal and child health, water and sanitation, hunger and nutrition, and access to health care. They show that the top U.S. health challenges are mental health, non-communicable diseases, substance abuse, and aging and the elderly.
As an integral part of Global Ministries’ work in the world, UMCOR continues its 75-year commitment to alleviate suffering “without regard to race or creed.” UMCOR is a concrete expression of God’s unconditional love for the world. To this end, UMCOR provides global disaster relief and recovery consistent with humanitarian best practices of impartiality, the right to assistance with dignity, and the goal of doing no harm. Reducing communities’ risks to disasters brought on by natural hazards and human action is a growing part of the work.
Reorganizing — A Continued Commitment to Responsible Stewardship
With Global Ministries’ relocation to Atlanta and as it reshapes itself with a mission connections structure, executive leadership determined there also was a need to reorganize the agency as a whole. This need was based on the agency’s commitment to responsible stewardship of church resources and to ensure greater effectiveness.
Global Ministries is now organized into the following program areas:
- The Center for Mission Innovation, led by Rev. Dr. J. Denise Honeycutt, executive director
- Communications, led by Mary Andreolli, executive director
- Finance and Administration, including The Advance and other fundraising, led by Roland Fernandes, chief operating officer and general treasurer
- Global Health, including Abundant Health: Our Promise to Children, led by Olusimbo Ige, M.D., executive director
- Global Mission Connections, led by Rev. Dr. Mande Muyombo, executive director
- Missionary Service, led by Rev. Dr. Judy Chung, executive director
- UMCOR, led by an interim leadership team of the general secretary and chief operating officer
- International Coaching Network, led by George Howard, executive director
The general secretary’s office will house staff who will oversee the work in mission theology.
To ensure the success of Global Ministries’ innovations in relocating, reshaping, and reorganizing itself, the agency is in the process of an extensive renovation and construction project on the campus of its new headquarters at 458 Ponce de Leon Ave. in Midtown Atlanta. The renovation will transform the site and help fulfill the many exciting ways Global Ministries continues to reimagine itself in this new mission age.
The Mission Theology statement, after recognizing the action of the Holy Spirit in sweeping the church into a new mission age, continues: “With openness and gratitude we await the leading of the Spirit in ways not yet seen as God continues to work God’s purposes in our own day in a new way."
To learn more about how you can be a part of the Spirit’s surprising activity with Global Ministries, please visit us at General Conference or online at:
Facebook: General Board of Global Ministries
The General Board of Global Ministries is the worldwide mission agency of The United Methodist Church. It is the current iteration of a Methodist mission movement that was founded in 1819 in New York City. Today, Global Ministries is focused on four mission goals: make disciples of Jesus Christ; develop and renew Christian congregations and communities; alleviate human suffering; and seek justice, freedom, and peace.
Mary Andreolli is executive director of communications for the General Board of Global Ministries.