Mission Organization Announces Plans to Start 600 New Faith Communities
By Melissa Hinnen*
Using online video technology, directors of the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries in New York engaged in prayer and song with representatives of the Honduras and Vietnam mission initiatives and the Malawi Provisional Annual Conference.
Ma Limh, a local elder in mission in Vietnam who joined via live video, offered a message of encouragement for future mission initiatives. “We need to share the gospel,” she said. “We don’t do it alone – God is calling us to join in God’s mission and is with us from today until the end of days.”
The virtual global gathering was part of a celebration of the 574 new worshipping communities in 13 mission initiatives in Southeast Asia, Eurasia, Africa, and Latin America. That number far exceeds the original goal of 400 church plants for the 2008-2012 quadrennium.
George Howard, who leads the agency’s Mission and Evangelism ministries, announced a new goal to launch 600 new faith communities from 2013-2016. Global Ministries is exploring possibilities for new initiatives in Africa, Asia, and South America.
Howard noted that while several of the initiatives, such as Malawi, “are mature to the point of becoming integral parts of the United Methodist connection, others are yet to become provisional annual conferences or will go the path of church autonomy.”
Following a vote by the 2012 General Conference, Malawi has now transitioned from a mission initiative to a provisional annual conference. Director Daniel Mhone, who is a Malawi district superintendent, shared insights with the board about the success of the Malawi Initiative. He said, “The Church of God only grows when it is a movement, not an institution.” He continued, “But as the movement came together with the structure of the United Methodist connection, we continued to live into what God is calling us to be, and lives are being transformed.”
Howard pointed out that US churches can learn from the successes and challenges of mission initiatives. “Mission initiatives are where we remember and relearn how to be a movement,” he said.
Learn more about mission initiatives and how you or your church can partner “In Mission Together” with new faith communities around the world: www.umcmission.org/mi.
*Melissa Hinnen is Global Ministries’ executive in charge of News and Content.
George Howard, head of Global Ministries’ Mission and Evangelism unit, addresses the denomination’s board of directors and staff during the Mission Initiatives celebration in New York.
Patrick Friday, director of In Mission Together, leads a virtual gathering of prayer and song with representatives in the Honduras and Vietnam mission initiatives and the Malawi Provisional Annual Conference.