Global Ministries

The United Methodist Church

Connecting the Church in Mission

United Methodist missionaries prepare to answer their call after blessing ceremony in Nashville, Tennessee.
Global Ministries missionary candidates gather for a group photo prior to a service of blessing at Belmont United Methodist Church in Nashville, Tenn. (Front row) Jonathan Baker, Donna Baker, Elizabeth Tapia and Fracine Masuka. (Middle row) Marcelo Gomes, Chin Cho, Kutela Katembo and Cesar Duran. (Back row) Cheryl LaValley, Greg Henneman, Richard Boone and Alfred Zigbuo. Photo by Mike DuBose, UMNS.

United Methodist Missionaries Receive Blessing for Service

By Laura K. Wise

May 14, 2015—This week, 13 people answered the called to serve as missionaries with the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries.

Following three weeks of intensive training covering spiritual formation, cross-cultural awareness, team building, and conflict resolution, twelve of the thirteen new missionaries received a blessing as they prepared to live out their calling. Belmont United Methodist Church in Nashville, Tenn., hosted the blessing service on Wednesday, May 13. The missionaries will be commissioned during annual conferences this spring. Missionary candidates from Global Ministries have their feet washed during a service of blessing at Belmont United Methodist Church in Nashville, Tenn.
Missionary candidates from Global Ministries have their feet washed during a service of blessing at Belmont United Methodist Church in Nashville, Tenn. Missionary Services executive Catherine Whitlatch (foreground) washes the feet of missionary candidate Jonathan Baker. With Baker is his wife Donna Baker, also a missionary candidate. Behind the Bakers, General Secretary Thomas Kemper washes the feet of missionary candidate Cheryl LaValley. Behind Kemper, Associate General Secretary Judy Chung washes the feet of Chin Cho. At right, Bishop William McAlilly, Nashville Episcopal Area, washes the feet of missionary candidate Fracine Masuka. Photo by Mike DuBose, UMNS

Called to ministry

Elizabeth S. Tapia, a native of the Philippines, shared that her calling came as the result of her Christian upbringing and her exposure to various forms of church ministry as a young child. She was later trained as a deaconess at Harris College in Manila before taking on a host of other theological assignments, including a position at Global Ministries. “All along I felt I had been a missionary, though not commissioned, among my own people.” Now Tapia will live out that feeling in her next assignment.

Alfred Zigbuo described his calling as prompted by an American missionary couple, and his experiences at a mission church the couple founded in Ganta, Liberia. “As I listened to their stories and saw the wonderful ways these missionaries lived the love of God through their works, I began to wonder—why would these people leave their home to come to this very remote place and be able to serve so well, even with their very lives?” He continued, “As I began to grow in faith, my passion for mission service deepened.”

Donna Baker’s call came after 43 years of professional nursing. “When I retired from my corporate role as a healthcare consultant in December, God opened the door and called me to an amazing country called the Democratic Republic of Congo.”

Servant Leadership

Guide my feet as I run this race…for I don’t want to run this race in vain.

Global Ministries General Secretary Thomas Kemper offers words of advice and encouragement during a service of blessing for new missionaries at Belmont United Methodist Church in Nashville, Tenn.
Global Ministries General Secretary Thomas Kemper offers words of advice and encouragement during a service of blessing for new missionaries at Belmont United Methodist Church in Nashville, Tenn. Photo by Mike DuBose, UMNS.

Thomas Kemper, Global Ministries general secretary, led the symbolic foot washing. Addressing the missionaries, he spoke of the nature of servant leadership:

By taking up the towel and basin, and kneeling to wash his disciples’ feet, once again, Jesus turned their understanding of what it meant to be his disciple upside down. He showed them what it meant to offer yourself in selfless love to another. These who have accepted the call of mission have the heart of servant leaders. We wash their feet as a sign of our deep love in Christ for them and with the blessing of God as they are sent to serve from ‘everywhere to everywhere’ in Christ’s name.

Learn how your church can enter a covenant relationship with any of these missionaries. Please keep them in prayer as they move forward in living out God’s call. Here is a list of annual conferences that will be commissioning missionaries this spring, with links to the missionaries’ bio pages.

Greater New Jersey, Friday, May 29 at 7:00 pm
Chin H. Cho, Country Coordinator, Mongolia
Ricardo Ramos, Coordinator for Theological Education, Bolivia

New Mexico, Thursday evening, June 4
Greg Henneman, HEAL Initiative Project Coordinator, USA/Ohio

Peninsula Delaware, Friday, June 5- ordination service
Donna Baker, Nurse In Mission, Democratic Republic of Congo
Jonathan Baker, Central Congo Partnership Coordinator, Democratic Republic of Congo

West Ohio, Wednesday June 10, afternoon
Richard Boone, Program Coordinator Horizon Prison Initiative, USA/Ohio

Rocky Mountain, Saturday, June 13 at 7pm
Cesar Duran, Developer & Coordinator for Hispanic/Latin Ministry, USA/Colorado

New York, Friday, June 12 8:30 am
Elizabeth S. Tapia, Professor of Bible, Theology and Mission, Philippines

North Georgia, Thursday morning, June 18
Cheryl LaValley, Children Ministry Trainer, Côte d’Ivoire
Fracine Mufuk Ilunga Mpanga, Young Girls Ministry Coordinator, Côte d’Ivoire

New England, Saturday, June 20, at 8:30 am
Marcelo Gomes, Brazilian Ministry Pastor, USA/Florida

Yellow Stone, Saturday, June 20th
Dieudonne Kutela Katembo, Agriculturist for Quessua Mission, Angola

Tennessee, Tuesday, June 9 at 5:00 PM
Alfred Zigbuo, Administrative and Liaison Support for the Episcopal Office, Democratic Republic of Congo

*Laura K. Wise is a mission intern with Generation Transformation serving as a mission communicator with Global Ministries.