A Spiritual Giant Step

Tampa, Florida, April 30, 2012—After Bill Dudleson retired, he and his wife, Diana, grew more and more involved in their church in Arkansas. On a drive home from yet another church function, Bill says he told Diana, “I could do this all the time.” Now he does, as a United Methodist home missioner.

The Dudlesons had already made several trips to Honduras, where their son and daughter-in-law, both doctors, served as medical missionaries. No strangers to overseas living—Bill’s work had taken the family to Libya, Dubai, England, Scotland, and Russia—they wondered whether they ought to look into longer-term overseas mission service.

But their pastor suggested they consider volunteering at the UMCOR Sager Brown Depot in Baldwin, Louisiana. So, they spent a weekend there in spring 2005, then returned again in the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita that summer. To this day, they continue to serve the depot in the volunteer services unit, of which Bill is the director.

Reflecting on his decision to become a home missioner, Bill said, “In my situation, I put the cart before the horse,” referring to the life of service he assumed at Sager Brown long before he really knew anything about the lay vocations of home missioners and deaconesses.

On Sunday, he was one of two home missioners, 15 deaconesses, and 23 overseas missionaries who were commissioned at Palma Ceia United Methodist Church in Tampa, host city to the United Methodist General Conference 2012, which runs from April 24 to May 4.

“This is another giant step on my faith walk,” Dudleson said in an interview the afternoon before his commissioning. “Something like this, it stretches you.”

The Office of Home Missioner provides lay men with an opportunity to serve in a life-time relationship in The United Methodist Church. It was established at General Conference 2004 and is the male counterpart to the all-female Office of Deaconess founded in 1888.

After intense training, both deaconesses and home missioners identify positions for their service in a helping profession or church-related vocation that may or may not be compensated. Dudleson found his place at UMCOR Sager Brown.

“What I do now is really what I love to do,” said Bill.

The training and formation he received in the home missioner program will reinforce his work with Sager Brown volunteers, Bill said, helping them to perceive and embrace the deeper spiritual reality and relationships involved in their own acts of service assembling relief kits for people in need.

“A lot of people come down there and they’re ready to roll up their sleeves and make kits and work on houses, and they don’t always realize that this is also spiritual time,” Bill said. That’s where, he said, he and UMCOR Material Resources Executive Director Kathy Kraiza, a deaconess, “can make a difference.”

Sign up for our newsletter!

SUBSCRIBE

Latest News

General Conference
The Book of Discipline contains the rules that guide The United Methodist Church. Only General Conference can change the book, which is revised after each meeting of the conference. Photo by Mike DuBose, UMNS.

List of GC2019 petitions under court review

Downloadable PDF lists approved changes to the Book of Discipline that will be reviewed by the Judicial Council in April.
Photo of retired Bishop Michael J. Coyner, courtesy of the Indiana Conference of The United Methodist Church website.

Opinion: ‘What’s next for our United Methodist Church?’

With a little more than a year before the regular General Conference 2020, retired Bishop Michael J. Coyner looks at what The United Methodist Church might consider for the future.
General Church
As the Rev. Joe Harris presides over the legislative committee, the results of a vote approving the Traditional Plan as amended by 461-359 are displayed. The vote must still be approved by the plenary session on Feb. 26, the final day of the special session of the 2019 General Conference of The United Methodist Church in St. Louis. Photo by Paul Jeffrey, UMNS.

Traditional Plan advances as One Church, Simple plans fail

General Conference 2019 delegates moved the Traditional Plan forward to plenary, not the One Church Plan or the Simple.