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Michigan’s new missionaries

Three young adults with Michigan ties are among new missionaries commissioned last week.

Atlanta, Ga., Aug. 3, 2016 — Joyful noises rang through the sanctuary on August 3 as The United Methodist Church welcomed 43 new young adult missionaries. Shouts and whistles echoed in the balcony of Grace Church, Atlanta, at the conclusion of the first commissioning (“sending”) of missionaries at what is now the denomination’s new world mission center.

Isaac Dunn
Isaac Dunn

Included in the class were three young people with Michigan ties. Erin Frey goes into service from Kalamazoo: Westwood United Methodist Church. Audra Hudson grew in faith at Howell United Methodist Church. And Texas native, Isaac Dunn, is a new US-2 joining the staff of NOAH Project in Detroit.

The young men and women at Grace represent two-thirds of the 2016-2018 class of Global Mission Fellows of the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries. Some 20 others will be commissioned in September at a service in Pochun, South Korea.

“O sing and honor Jesus…he’s calling my name…we’ll follow in faith…hey, hey, hey,” the missionary candidates and congregation called out in antiphonal response, using an Arapaho Chant, in colorful opening procession. Each young person carried a piece of cloth representing self, symbols laid on the church’s communion rail as they passed.

Sent into All the World

“I commission you to take the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ into all the world,” Bishop Woody White repeated as the 43 new Global Mission Fellows knelt one at a time to receive the “laying on of hands,” the symbol that the church is designating a person for special responsibility. The role of missionary is one of the oldest special designations in Christianity.

Erin Frey
Erin Frey

Bishop White, who presided at the Grace service, is in retirement as bishop-in-residence at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology, Atlanta. The bishop was joined in the act of commissioning by Thomas Kemper, chief executive of Global Ministries, and the Rev. Dr. Judy Chung, director of the agency’s Missionary Service office.

Global Mission Fellows, who are between the ages of 20 and 30, serve two years in justice ministries scattered around the world. Those commissioned in Atlanta are from 11 countries including the United States, and 15 U.S. states. They will serve in 19 countries and illustrate the Global Ministries philosophy of mission “from everywhere to everywhere.”

Bishop White questioned the missionary candidates on their calling to mission service, asking, among other questions, “Do you believe you have been led by the Holy Spirit to do this work and all that comes with it?”

“I do,” the group responded, later, repeating in unison a covenant prayer, attributed to Methodist founder John Wesley, pledging to God, “I am no longer my own, but thine. Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.”

Sent from and into Michigan

Eleven of these new Mission Fellows will serve in the United States through six geographic Affiliates that includes The Detroit Conference. Affiliates assist GBGM in recruitment, selection, and supervision of Fellows. The Affiliate assists Fellows in creating intentional community and navigating the joys and challenges of living in a new place. The Rev. Paul Perez, Director for Mission and Justice Engagement and Leadership Recruitment, serves as the Detroit Conference Affiliate Coordinator.

US2 Hudson
Audra Hudson

“Working with the Global Mission Fellows serving in Detroit is one of the real joys of my job,” commented Perez. “No other young adult service program I know of provides the opportunity for two years of continuous service or training and relationship building with fellow young adults from around the world. The GMF program is a United Methodist treasure.”

Isaac Dunn is bound for the Detroit Conference where he begins serving as a Case Manager at the NOAH Project on August 15. Click here for Isaac’s story.Two other Fellows commissioned last year currently serve through the Detroit Conference Affiliate. Chelsea Williams and Kayla Flannery, moving into their second year, serve at the NOAH Project and the Northwest Detroit Flood Recovery Project.

Two young women from Michigan, Audra Hudson and Erin Frey, are now leaving the state for service in the U.S.. Audra, a member of Howell: First United Methodist Church, will serve as a community organizer at Tacoma Community House in Washington. Read more about Audra here.

Erin, a member of Kalamazoo: Westwood United Methodist Church, will serve as services coordinator for the Children’s Hunger Program of United Methodist Community Ministries Suncoast in Florida. Erin’s bio found here.

Victoria and Nicholas Stanford are entering their second year as Global Mission Fellows at Community Ministries at Murray Hill United Methodist Church and Campus to City Wesley in Florida.  Learn more about Nicholas, a member of Wyoming Park UMC. Victoria’s home church is Portage: Chapel Hill UMC; read her bio here.

Go with Christ Vision

In the commissioning sermon, the Rev. Dr. Albert D. Mosley, president of Gammon Theological Seminary, Atlanta, challenged the young missionaries to go into a violent and confused world ready to have their vision always made clearer by Jesus Christ. Using the story of Jesus’ healing of a blind man in Mark 8:22-26 as his sermon text, the preacher urged the young missionaries to lean completely on Jesus as they serve those in need of transformation, even as they have depended on Jesus for their own transformation.

“God is in the corrective-vision business,” proclaimed Dr. Mosley.

“This is a wonderful day in the life of The United Methodist Church and Global Ministries, a fitting occasion for our first public service marking our agency’s move to Atlanta,” Kemper said in an interview following the commissioning. “It was so joyful, and that is a hallmark of Christian mission: joy in the promise of grace and love throughout the world.”

Global Ministries is moving into a connectional operation plan involving regional offices and a global center in Atlanta. Offices of the agency and its predecessors have been in New York City since 1819.


Anchor Crosses

Each new United Methodist missionary was vested with an Anchor Cross, representing a foundation in Jesus Christ and in the communities of service. Global Mission Fellows are deliberately placed in communities different from those from which they come. The objective, according to the Rev. Chung, is to link “the church in mission across cultural and geographical boundaries” and to provide opportunities for the young adult to “grow in personal and social holiness, becoming strong young leaders in the church’s work to build just communities in a peaceful world.”

There are annually two groups of Global Mission Fellows:, US-2s, who are from the U.S. and serve in that country, and international fellows, who can be from any country and assigned globally. The program operates in close association with affiliates and partners in both recruitment and placement. These collaborators include annual (regional) conferences, districts, denominational institutions, and autonomous Methodist churches around the world.

Global Ministries currently has some 350 missionaries in service around the world.

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