connectNmission: June 2011, Issue 8
June 2011, Issue 8Featured Resource Advocates of the Month
|Letter from Thomas Kemper
Water in Kamina
10-Fold Event: July 10
|Witness and Refuge in Tunisia
Hope in Detroit
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
“Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.” (Matthew 10:40)
I have been truly blessed by the radical hospitality I experience as I visit different annual conferences this year. It has been a joy to introduce the ministryWith.org website and learn about the transformational work that is happening throughout the United Methodist connection. Donations of birthing kits and school kits, stories of Volunteers in Mission, and relationships between churches and missionaries have all been examples of how our Church body is acting as the hands and feet of Christ in the world.
This month’s connectNmission highlights individuals who are offering hope and healing in the US and in places around the world. It also includes ways that you can connect in mission--through watching an interactive webcast about building new churches, using ministryWith.org as a tool for engaging in ministry with the poor, or attending the School of Congregational Development.
Thank you for all the ways that you welcome Christ through your words and actions. You are the Church in mission, and together we continue to be a signpost for the Kingdom. May God continue to bless you in your ministry.
Grace and peace,
In much of the developing world, lack of water is at the center of a vicious circle of inequality. In the Kamina Province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is addressing the people's need for water and sanitation. Bringing clean water right close to homes is key. Where clean water becomes accessible and plentiful, communities are transformed and a cycle of equality restored. Go to: umcorcleanwater.org.
Photo: A boy waits for access to a communal water source in a Congolese village.
Photo Credit: Paul Jeffrey
In recent months, Tunisia, like many countries in Northern Africa, has experienced major upheaval, but one thing remains constant--the missionary presence of The United Methodist Church in solidarity with other Christian groups who minister with the people who are most marginalized people in the region.
A missionary couple from Côte d'Ivoire, Rev. Isaac Agré and Ms. Jacqueline Agré, are Global Ministries missionaries bringing care and support to all. Through an email exchange with their daughter, Syntiche Agré, they reported:
After weeks of sociopolitical predicaments in Tunisia, life is slowly returning to normal. We interact with the Tunisian population through community actions. We do most of our social actions with the Reformed Church of Tunisia. Since the beginning of the sociopolitical crisis in Tunis, we look for volunteers to help with the distribution of shelters, clothes, medications, and food to the needy and the refugees from nearby countries such as Libya. We work in collaboration with the UNHCR, the Red Cross, the Catholic Church through Caritas, and other organizations. But most of the time, we focus on helping international students with housing, food, and other needs.
The missionary presence in North African countries is primarily a ministry of solidarity with the people--one of sharing God's love. The Agrés provide hospitality to the migrants and refugees from many different African countries, including those from their home country, Côte d'Ivoire. They give encouragement, help, and support for the sojourners' needs, "especially in times of transition, like now," said Rev. Daniel Nussbaumer, the former District Superintendent of The United Methodist Church ministry in North Africa. Their ministry takes place in cooperation with the Reformed Church and the Roman Catholic Church in Tunis.
"It is critical to have missionaries in Tunisia at this time because they minister to people who are among the most vulnerable...there are many migrants from sub-Saharan Africa, and our missionaries give practical help and spiritual support to them (they are often not welcome in Tunisia!)," said Dr. Üllas Tankler, executive at Global Ministries. "Also, they offer refuge and space to the African migrant students in Tunis and give witness to the love of Christ in every circumstance."
It is easy to get caught up in all the empirical evidence expounding on the gradual collapse of Detroit, a once great city. The latest test results of the Detroit Public School system shed a harsh light on what is unequivocally the worst school system in this nation. The unemployment and homeless rates speak a painful truth of a city in the midst of a housing, job, and, ultimately, a spiritual crisis.
It is easy to get caught up, but it's easy to see hope, too. I am blessed to live and work within an amazing community of faith, hope, and love. Every day I see amazing people working hard to serve others selflessly, to seek peace with justice in a place where both are sometimes left out in the name of necessity. Every day I see people coming together as a family, bound by a desire deep within to see this city rebuilt and re-imagined.
Read more of this reflection "Where Has Detroit Gone?" from Devin Hanson, a US-2, a two-year young adult missionary serving in Detroit, Michigan.
As the teams set out to cut tree limbs, carry away trash, they loaded four flatbed trailer loads of branches and yard waste--from one yard alone!
Over the Change the World weekend in mid-May, under the leadership of Revs. Mercer and Kahl, a team of 30 from Western Hills and Bond Memorial UMCs tackled the front yards of three senior citizens in Clint, Texas.
Several other needs emerged. One woman needed her home cleaned on the inside as well as the outside. Another woman needed help with her bathroom as she could no longer access her tub. The United Methodist church teams are getting the seniors the help they need and planning another clean-up day soon.
Mayor Dale Reinhardt of Clint, Texas, informed Rev. Kahl that these senior citizens were on the verge of heavy fines for violating city health codes. Working with the city government on the yard projects gave the church a community presence "as a caring body of Christ who can be called on in time of need," said Rev. Janice Kahl of Bond Memorial UMC.
The young people who were a part of the Change the World weekend considered several options on where to donate the pledges raised from a special spaghetti dinner to support the yard clean-up. They decided that the more than $500 raised should go to UMCOR Advance project to support the work to repair the damage of the US spring storms. Like the young people, you, too, can give to Spring Storms 2011, Advance #3021326.
Photos: Top: Rev. Amy Mercer of Western Hills United Methodist Church in El Paso, Texas. Center: Rev. Janice Kahl of Bond Memorial United Methodist Church in Clint, Texas.
Ministry for the poor? Ministry to the poor? Hmm…. Uh-uh. Ministry with the poor? Yes!
What is poverty? What causes it? And how are we all called to respond? Explore complex questions on poverty in a simple, lively, and varied media format that includes fact sheets, articles, historical documents, worship suggestions, Bible studies, blogs, and other downloadable materials. Discover what others have shared about what it means to be in ministry with the poor.
This month the exciting and substantive website ministryWith.org was launched to address Global Ministries' work and ministry with the poor. Reminder: we are not in ministry for or ministry to, but following Christ's example we are in ministry with others.
Join the 2011 School of Congregational Development to grow, start, or reenergize your church. You'll meet new friends, learn new ideas, and become a new leader! Bring a team from your church or conference to talk and share with the hundreds of United Methodists at the School of Congregational Development, held this summer in Dallas, Texas. The annual learning experience promises to be a dynamic gathering, co-sponsored by Global Ministries, Path 1, and GBOD.
Go to gbod3.org to register or learn more.
The United Methodist Church has set a goal to build 400 new churches around the world by 2012. During the 10-Fold July 10th event, Patrick Friday, Global Ministries director of In Mission Together, will discuss this ambitious initiative. You will also hear from the people who are leading efforts in Russia, Cameroon, Senegal, and Latvia. Videos will be shown all day; a live webcast will take place at 5:00 pm ET.
Many of the new churches are being built in places where the people are unfamiliar with United Methodists, but these efforts are quickly transforming lives. For the churches here in the United States that relate to one of these new churches, the partnerships created are building mutual respect across cultures, and all churches are being uplifted through the experience.
Go to 10-Fold.org/live on Sunday, July 10, to learn about this global United Methodist effort and how you and your church can get involved.