United Methodist Church sends eight new missionaries

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*By Elliott Wright

New York, NY—Six new missionaries for service in Latin America and two for worldwide young adult work were commissioned (“sent”) at the opening service of worship of the 2015 annual meeting of directors of The United Methodist Church’s global mission agency, the General Board of Global Ministries.

The six for Latin America will serve in Argentina, Brazil, Guatemala, Uruguay, and one on a regional level across Latin America. The two young adults will have global portfolios. The eight are from or have roots in six countries: Argentina, Brazil, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, the Philippines, and the United States. United Methodist missionaries serve “from everywhere to everywhere.”

One couple, Federico and Veronica Apecena, will serve in Uruguay—the first United Methodist missionaries in that country in many years. They will work with the autonomous Methodist Church in Uruguay along Uruguay’s northern borders with Brazil and Argentina.

Commissioned for Service

The dramatic service of commissioning took place on October 1 in the chapel of New York City’s Interchurch Center, the building currently housing the headquarters of Global Ministries. As each candidate was individually presented, a biblical passage on response to God’s call to service was read. Each then stood in the chancel area beside a pillar (a table) designed to represent the context in which he or she will be in mission; each carried a candle symbolizing the presence of the Holy Spirit already in that new setting.

The actual commissioning involved affirmatively answering questions about commitment to mission, kneeling for blessing, and for formal sending “to take the Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ into all the world.” Each received an anchor cross, worn around the neck, the symbol of United Methodist missionary service.

At the conclusion of the service, the new missionaries returned to their pillars to receive a benediction from someone from their home, church, or annual (regional) conference. They carried the light of the spirit with them as they recessed. Singing and dancing always accompany the commissioning of new missionaries.

Bishop Hope Morgan Ward, president of Global Ministries. Photo: Bob Gore

Bishop Hope Morgan Ward, president of Global Ministries. Photo: Bob Gore

Following the commissioning service, Bishop Hope Morgan Ward, president of Global Ministries, stated, “It is an honor to pray and bless these called, gifted, and prepared persons as they begin this significant time of ministry in their lives and in the life of our church.”

“Commissioning is a high point in the life of The United Methodist Church, as we send women and men forth to ‘take the gospel of Jesus Christ into all the world’,” said Bishop Hope Morgan Ward, in an interview following the service over which she presided as president of Global Ministries. “It is an honor to pray and bless these called, gifted, and prepared persons as they begin this significant time of ministry in their lives and in the life of our church.”

The formal sending includes the “laying on of hands,” which represents the blessing of the church. Bishop Ward was assisted in that act by Bishop Jonathan Holston of South Carolina, Thomas Kemper, chief executive of Global Ministries, and Harriett Jane Olson, chief executive of United Methodist Women.

Bishop Holston’s sermon for the service was based on a passage from the Book of Isaiah that includes the prophet’s response to God’s call, “Here am I, send me.” He asked the question, “what does it mean to be called” and to answer affirmatively? He offered two words as an answer: “I understand”—understand the challenges, blessings, and message that missionary service entails.

Acknowledging that difficulties can arise in the course of ministry, the bishop advised the new missionaries to frequently say to themselves, “I understand, Lord, that what you called me for I can do.”
“Let us continue to pray expectantly as God continues to call us all into mission ‘from everywhere to everywhere,’” Bishop Ward said in the interview following the service.

Placed for Service

One new missionary, the Rev. Andrea Reily Rocha Soares, a clergy member of the Methodist Church in Brazil, will serve as a regional missionary for leadership development in Latin America. Regional missionaries engage in ministries with women, children, and youth. They are selected and supported by United Methodist Women and commissioned and placed in collaboration with Global Ministries.

The seven other missionaries are in the category of “Global Missionaries.” Their home conferences and places of assignment follow.

  • Federico Apecena, North Carolina Annual Conference, originally from Argentina, will serve as pastor for developing missions with the Methodist Church in Uruguay in that country’s northern border areas.
  • Veronica Apecena, North Carolina Annual Conference, will serve as promoter of social and health ministries in Bella Unión with the Methodist Church in Uruguay.
  • Joy Eva Bohol, Visayas Philippines Central Conference, will serve as a mission advocate for young adult mission service (Generation Transformation), United States and world.
  • Janjay Innis, New England Annual Conference, early years in Liberia, will serve as a mission advocate for young adult mission service (Generation Transformation), United States and world.
  • Calley Piland, Rio Texas Annual Conference, will serve as mission volunteer coordinator with the Evangelical National Primitive Methodist Church of Guatemala.
  • The Rev. Charles Mulemena, Zambia Provisional Annual Conference, will serve as coordinator of the Council of Christian Churches in the Amazon Rain Forest, based in Belem, Brazil.
  • The Rev. Douglas Williams, Iowa Annual Conference, will serve as pastor and Volunteer-in-Mission promoter with the Evangelical Methodist Church of Argentina.

*Elliott Wright is an information consultant working with the General Board of Global Ministries.

General Board of Global Ministries

The General Board of Global Ministries is the global mission agency of The United Methodist Church, its annual conferences, missionary conferences, and local congregations. A major responsibility of Global Ministries is to connect the various parts of the Church as United Methodists engage in global mission. The aim of Global Ministries is to be a biblically rooted, historically informed, and organizationally flexible means of spreading the good news.

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