Sent out: Thursday morning worship at General Conference

Bishop John Yambasu gives the sermon during morning worship May 19 at the 2016 United Methodist General Conference in Portland, Ore. Photo by Mike DuBose, UMNS

If worshippers didn’t already know that the world is a tough place for millions of people, they certainly did after hearing the Thursday morning message from Bishop John Yambasu, who serves in the Sierra Leone Episcopal Area. 

“It is estimated that one in every hundred people in our world are either on the run or living in life-threatening circumstances, ” he said.

  • Six million children die yearly from preventable diseases.
  • 6.7 million Syrian refugees wander helplessly looking for a place to settle.
  • An estimated one million young men from Africa die yearly trying to escape poverty in their home countries.
  • Thousands of Asian migrants are enslaved, misused, and sexually abused each year as they seek to make a living and send money to their families back home.
  • In Palestine, 750,000 people have been forcefully uprooted from their ancestral homes.

 “Jesus sends us out to heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers and cast out demons,” he said. “Anything less than caring for the poor and needy, helpless, hopeless, outcast and the marginalized is unacceptable.”

Yambasu mentioned the commonly used tagline for the UMC, “Open hearts, open minds, and open doors.” He spoke of both his affection for and his problem with that motto, and introduced another concept: open hands.

For far too long we have opened our hands and nothing seems to happen. Instead of open hands, what we need now most are embracing hands. We need hands that embrace. Church, we need to and have to and must embrace each other.

For far too long we have had open hearts and yet nothing seems to happen. What the church needs now is compassionate hearts.

For far too long we have spoken of open minds. But it seems to me that nothing has happened. What we need now and most is engaging minds. Friends we need to engage each other or we perish as a denomination. Red and yellow black and white, poor and rich; have and haves not; gay or straight, heterosexual or bisexual we need to engage each other.

After the message, Bishop Yambusa was joined by Bishops Hope Morgan Ward and Hee-Soo Jung in a commissioning service for 29 missionaries. The General Board of Global Ministries gives oversight to all missionaries.

The missionaries, who hail from 11 different countries and 12 different US states will be deployed to seventeen countries. Several will work in health-related fields. Four will work specifically with migrants.

It is rare for the commissioning of missionaries to be part of the General Conference plenary session. The service is normally held at a church near the General Conference location so this was a particularly special occasion for those being commissioned.

After the presentation of missionaries, Bishop Ward presided at the examination of candidates.

Those Commissioned as Global Missionaries:

  • Patrick Abro, Côte d’Ivoire Annual Conference, assistant health board coordinator, North Katanga Episcopal Area, Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Michael Arteen, House of Bread Church, Palestine, chaplain and director of spiritual life at Bethlehem Bible College
  • A. Broncano, Philippines East Annual Conference, coordinator for English language program for the United Methodist Mission, Southeast Asia
  • Douglas Childress, Upper New York Annual Conference (USA), pastor of international ministry and teacher at the Baltic Methodist Theological Seminary, Tallinn, Estonia
  • Külli Tõniste, Upper New York Annual Conference (USA), assistant professor at Baltic Methodist Theological Seminary, Tallinn, Estonia
  • Eden Fletcher, Methodist Church in Britain, coordinator of education, resources, and administration for the United Methodist Mission, Southeast Asia
  • Leo Garcia, Methodist Church in Cuba, professor at Quéssua School of Theology, East Angola
  • Florence Kaying, North Katanga Annual Conference, Democratic Republic of Congo, maternity and child health nurse practitioner for the Mozambique Episcopal Area, Mozambique
  • John Nday, North Katanga Annual Conference, agricultural coordinator for Cambine Mission, Mozambique
  • Hector N. Laporta, Methodist Church of Peru, professor at Dr. Gonzalo Baez Camargo Methodist Seminary in Mexico City, Mexico.
  • David McCormick, Louisiana Annual Conference (USA), administrator of Chicuque Rural Hospital, Mozambique
  • Elizabeth McCormick, Louisiana Annual Conference (USA), pharmacist for Chicuque Rural Hospital, Mozambique
  • Jennifer Moore, Church of the Nazarene, Maryland (USA), Christian education with the Serbia-Montenegro-Macedonia Provisional Conference, Macedonia
  • Jean Mwenze, North Katanga Annual Conference, professor at  Banyam Theological Seminary, Nigeria
  • Jim Perdue Iowa Annual Conference, missionary for global migration, Central America and Mexico, Central American University, El Salvador
  • Marcel Sachou, Côte d’Ivoire Annual Conference, church planter and pastoral mentor in the Central African Republic
  • Desiree Segura-April, Pacific Northwest Annual Conference, resource person for children at-risk ministries, Nicaragua
  • Josh Van, California-Nevada Annual Conference, ministry with Vietnamese migrant workers for the Methodist Church in Malaysia
  • Aaron Vandersommers, East Ohio Annual Conference (USA), chief operations officer for the Church of Christ in the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Mary Vandersommers, East Ohio Annual Conference (USA), community development consultant for the Church of Christ in the Congo, DR Congo
  • Ryan Williams, Watermark Community Church, Dallas, Texas, teacher at United Methodist English-speaking School of Lubumbashi, DR Congo
  • Stacey Williams, Watermark Community Church, Dallas, Texas, teacher at United Methodist English-speaking School of Lubumbashi, DR Congo
  • D. Yang, Minnesota Annual Conference (USA), congregational development specialist, United Methodist Mission, Southeast Asia
  • Mike Zdorow, Florida Annual Conference, pastor of Moscow Protestant Chaplaincy, Moscow, Russia
  • Henri Zombil, North Katanga Annual Conference/Florida Annual Conference, health services administrator, Sierra Leone Annual Conference

Those Commissioned as Church and Community Worker Missionaries

  • Jennifer Henneman, New Mexico Annual Conference, program director, Faith Community Health Connection, Columbus, Ohio, USA
  • Amy Purdom, Virginia Annual Conference, mentoring program coordinator, House of the Carpenter, Wheeling, West Virginia, USA
  • Linda Stransky, Holston Annual Conference, executive director, Jubilee Project Inc., Sneedville, Tennessee, USA
  • Anna Troy, Rio Texas Conference, outreach coordinator for Partners in Ministry, Youth Empowered to Succeed, Laurinburg, North Carolina, USA

Each missionary knelt before one of the three bishops to be vested. The house band concluded the service, singing the traditional covenant prayer.

I am no longer my own, but thine. 
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed by thee or laid aside by thee.
Exalted for thee or brought low for thee.

Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.

And now, O glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
thou art mine, and I am thine.
So be it.

And the covenant which I have made on earth,
Let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.


I’m a retired Elder in the United Methodist Church, the place I finally discovered grace after a lifelong search. I love writing, gardening, reading, asking questions and making connections between political and religious practices.

My husband and I jointly claim eleven children (as he says, “mostly by mergers and acquisitions!”) and twelve grandchildren. In between our own travels, we love to have them and many others come and stay with us a bit. We see so much of the heavenly grace in the offering of earthly hospitality.

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