Editor's Note: As the 2012 General Conferenceapproaches, United Methodist News Service is looking at details of legislation and offering information to help readers better understand how the church works. A number of proposals are aimed at restructuring the denomination and its general ministries, so UMNS asked the top executives of each agency to answer five questions about their agency's role in the church. This is the response from the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries.
4. How does the average United Methodist pastor or member benefit from your agency's work? Social advocacy? Curriculum? Scholarships? Please give a concrete example, ideally quoting a testimonial from someone outside of your agency.
Volunteers in Mission
Global Ministries works with jurisdictional conferences and partner organizations to facilitate training and strategically identify and coordinate short-term projects for 100,000 U.S. Volunteers in Mission every year. VIM teams serve locally, nationally and internationally in ministries that include disaster response, health care, mission initiatives and other projects endorsed by the host Methodist church, partner church or agency, or nongovernmental organization.
Churches become partners with missionaries when they enter into Covenant Relationships. This partnership is much more than a financial commitment. It is a dynamic relationship where the church and missionary pray for one another and communicate regularly. By deepening its awareness of the struggles and triumphs of the missionary, the congregation participates in truly connectional work. During itineration once every three years, the congregation has the opportunity to meet the missionary face-to-face by hosting him or her at their church.
"Performing stitches on a dog and repairing a car with duct tape and caulk,"read Nancy VandenBrink, marveling at the diversity of work that missionaries are doing in Haiti. Stephanie Norton, a community developer, and Ashley Norton, a mission coordinator, are new missionaries serving in Mizak, Haiti, with Haitian Artisans for Peace International.
VandenBrink, the missions team chair at Westwood United Methodist Church, Kalamazoo, Mich., shares Norton's emails to encourage support for Stephanie and Ashley Norton, a married couple who work in income-generating, health-based and community education projects in rural Haiti.
"It's amazing that Stephanie is doing workshops in which she is teaching people who would like to be teachers very basic skills like counting and how to write the alphabet and their names," said VandenBrink.
The Nortons were active members of Westwood Church, especially in missions and social justice ministries. "When they were selected to be mission interns," VandenBrink said, "I was very excited for them and, of course, wanted to support 'two of our own.' Their work in Haiti allows them to extend those passions and use (their) gifts and talents to make a lasting difference in the lives of the Haitians they serve."
Westwood Church has committed to support Ashley and Stephanie Norton, each for $500, through gifts to The Advance, a giving channel of The United Methodist Church.
5. How much money and how many employees does it take to maintain the work your agency is currently doing?
In 2009, Global Ministries conducted an operational audit to maximize resources while meeting the needs of the church. The board reduced the staff by 67 and decreased the budget by 20 percent. The 2012 budget is $43,994,644, with World Service Funds accounting for only $25,516,893. The staff of more than 250 is stretched to capacity to meet the needs of the organization, including managing more than 300 missionaries and more than 1,000 Advance ministries.
Learn more: Website of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries.
For more information, visit the 2012 General Conference website.