A Blessing of What Is Yet to Come
“What does it mean to be commissioned?” asked Global Mission Fellow Theresa Frost. Read the answer to her question and what she and nine other young adults are now commissioned to go and do.
By Sara Logeman*
In the final chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus appears to the disciples after his Resurrection. In “The Great Commission,” Jesus commands the 11 to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20, NRSV)
“Matthew 28 is my life verse,” says Theresa Frost of Vicksburg, Mississippi. She is one of 10 Global Mission Fellows beginning two years of service in communities across the United States. With no connection to a church or faith community growing up, Theresa became a Christian her senior year of high school. Her faith flourished in college while a part of the Wesley Foundation. “The people I met there helped me strengthen my relationship with God. Two girls in particular mentored me and bought me my first Bible.”
Theresa Frost and Hannah Schnaidt in conversation during training. PHOTO: JENNIFER SILVER
The newly commissioned class of Global Mission Fellows: US-2 track. PHOTO: HECTOR AMADOR
The Global Mission Fellows on the US-2 track just completed two weeks of training in preparation for their assignments which included teaching sessions on topics such as “Breaking the Bonds of Injustice” and “Exploring the United Methodist Social Principles” as well as a short trip to Montgomery, Alabama, to visit the new Legacy Museum and National Memorial for Peace and Justice. The training concluded with a Service of Commissioning on Aug. 30 at Global Ministries in Atlanta. They now join 57 Global Mission Fellows on the international track who were commissioned on Aug. 9 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Until the training, Theresa admits that she did not understand the full meaning of “commissioning.” “I didn’t think it was that big of a deal,” she says, “so I didn’t tell anyone I was getting commissioned!” But as the moment of commissioning neared, Theresa grew more curious and began to ask others what it meant.
Finally, someone provided an answer that resonated with Theresa’s own journey of faith: “Commissioning,” the person explained, “is when you are at the doorstep of living the commission that Jesus gave his disciples in Matthew 28. We pray over you before you take that step to go out.”
In a full-circle moment, Theresa saw how her upcoming commissioning would be both familiar and new. “I was so excited when I realized what commissioning was,” she recalls. “Matthew 28 has been prayed over me so many times, and it is a verse that I have really connected with.” Equipped with a deeper and more nuanced understanding of her “life verse,” Theresa is eager to go out into the world as a commissioned Fellow.
Bishop R. Lawson Bryan of the South Georgia Annual Conference delivered the sermon and presided over the act of commissioning in the service. As he placed his hands on each young adult, he prayed, “I commission you to take the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ into all the world. Amen.” The act of commissioning is a public affirmation made by the church to uphold the call of Christ to “make disciples of all nations.”
“Commissioning is not just a service, but a blessing of what is yet to come,” Theresa realized.
The future will unfold for Theresa at the United Methodist Cooperative Ministries of the Florida Annual Conference. Serving as their citizenship and immigration services coordinator, she will work at the intersection of faith and justice by advocating on behalf of oppressed and marginalized populations. As an engaged and active member of her new community, Theresa’s service will connect the church in mission across cultural and geographical boundaries.
The other Global Mission Fellows on the US-2 track will serve in similar social justice-oriented roles and, as general secretary Thomas Kemper proclaimed during the Service of Commissioning, “live out the gospel in the communities they serve.” Timothy Clancy will serve alongside Theresa at the United Methodist Cooperative Ministries as the children’s hunger program coordinator.
Other assignments include:
• Shay Ann Bryant, children and youth ministry coordinator, Metropolitan Ministries, Florida Annual Conference;
• Emily Burns, community organizer, Sunnyside United Methodist Church, Michigan Annual Conference;
• Hannah Newton and Hannah Schnaidt, client advocates, Nome Children’s Home, Alaska Missionary Conference;
• Kristi Painter, community organizer, Arch Street United Methodist Church, Eastern Pennsylvania Annual Conference;
• Angela Reed, program associate, Tacoma Community House, Pacific Northwest Annual Conference;
• Jinnia Siironen, case manager, NOAH Project, Michigan Annual Conference; and
• Asti White, coordinator of intentional community and social justice, Wesley Foundation of Kalamazoo, Michigan Annual Conference.
As the service concluded, the congregation rose to their feet and sang “The Spirit Sends Us Forth to Serve” (written by Delores Dufner):
The spirit sends us forth to serve; we go in Jesus’ name
to bring glad tidings to the poor, God’s favor to proclaim.
We go to comfort those who mourn and set the burdened free:
Where hope is dim, to share a dream and help the blind to see.
We go to be the hands of Christ, to scatter joy like seed
And all our days, to cherish life, to do the loving deed.
Then let us go to serve in peace, the Gospel to proclaim.
God’s Spirit has empowered us; we go in Jesus name.
As this new class of Global Mission Fellows has been commissioned into service, may we, too, be empowered by God’s Spirit to serve in peace.
If you are interested in learning more about the Global Mission Fellows program, applying to become a Global Mission Fellow or supporting a Fellow and their work, learn more here: https://www.umcmission.org/Get-Involved/Generation-Transformation/Global-Mission-Fellows/Fellows
*Logeman is the content strategist for Global Ministries.