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Michigan gets a helping hand

Young people lend a hand in Michigan

Please welcome three new Global Mission Fellows. Meet the women who arrived in Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids, and Detroit for two years of service with God’s people in The Michigan Conference.

Senior Content Editor

United Methodist missionaries are “From everywhere, To everywhere.” And for three young women, newly commissioned as Global Mission Fellows, that everywhere is Michigan.

Michigan has been a placement site for stateside Global Mission Fellows, otherwise known as US-2s, for many years. Bailey Townsend, Marie Rittenberry, and Ceneya Ward-Johns have arrived in the Michigan Conference and are currently undergoing virtual training.

US-2s put their hands to work to create sustainable change in the communities in which they are assigned. The General Board of Global Ministries places a priority on creating opportunities for young adults because, “Young adults play a critical role as agents of change in The United Methodist Church.”

US-2s arrive to lend a hand
Bailey Townsend — Marie Rittenberry — Ceneya Ward Johns

The Rev. Lisa Batten, Michigan Conference Coordinator of Young Adult Initiatives, introduces the women and reports on their placements.

BAILEY TOWNSEND is from Tennessee. She will be serving with three ministry partners in Detroit. Her primary assignment is with Motown Mission. Bailey will provide leadership for block clubs and neighborhood associations that serve as project partners. She will also work closely with volunteer groups who come to serve through Motown. During the schoolyear, Bailey will assist student leaders at Motor City Wesley as they plan and host weekly gatherings at Wayne State University. She will also assist the director with grant development and help students with “conspiracies of goodness.” At Redford Brightmoor Initiative, Bailey will help at the Free Store and assist the director with communication and funding tasks.

MARIE RITTENBERRY comes to Michigan from Shreveport, LA. Marie will serve at the United Methodist Community House in Grand Rapids. Justice is her focus as Client Engagement Specialist for the newly launched Fresh Food Market that will supply fresh, healthy, affordable food to community members experiencing food insecurity. Using a social enterprise model, Marie is to ensure the market is sustainable over time.

CENEYA WARD-JOHNS left New York to live in Kalamazoo. She will serve at the Wesley Campus Ministry at Western Michigan University. Ceneya has two main responsibilities. As Resident Director of the Intentional Living Community, she will develop community with the residents, facilitate retreats and weekly house gatherings. Caretaking of the facility is also part of her job. Ceneya will also work with the Campus Pastor/Director on the annual garden and green space, recruiting young adults to volunteer, as well. She will also network with other garden and permaculture projects in the city.

As Michigan United Methodists welcome these three missionaries, we also say goodbye to five young people who depart the US-2 role among us. Godspeed to Yeo Jin Yun (Methodist Federation for Social Action), Lauren Norton (Motown Mission), Kathryn Sappington (Kalamazoo First UMC), Michael Bennett (WMU Wesley), and Emily Palm (NOAH Project Detroit).

The General Board of Global Ministries will open applications for the next cohort of Global Mission Fellows on October 1. In addition to the US-2 opportunity (deadline Nov. 30, 2021), there is an International Track (deadline Jan. 22, 2022).

May God bless Bailey, Marie, and Ceneya as they give their hands and hearts in service to God’s people in Michigan.