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world is my

parish Global Ministr ies’ M i s s i o n I n itiatives

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Cover Photos Top, right, and left: Patrick Friday; bottom: Greg Gelzinnis


world is my

parish —John Wesley


he Mission Initiatives started over the last three decades are expressions of a General Board of Global Ministries mandate to extend the Gospel to all the world, and a response to John Wesley’s words claiming that “The World is My Parish.” Movements are being catalyzed and international partnerships birthed in each yielding evangelism, church growth, and social outreach with an awareness of cultural, linguistic, historical, and economic realities. They are examples of fulfilling God’s mission in a holistic ministry engaging the church in the four areas of focus of The United Methodist Church, i.e., Global Health, Ministry with the Poor, Church Growth and Development, and Leadership Development. Historically and today God provides opportunities for the church to spread through mission the good news of grace and love through Jesus Christ. This mandate for mission is grounded in the Great Commission of the Gospel of Matthew, 28:19-20: “Go, teach…and I am with you until the end…” By God’s grace and providence The United Methodist Church has launched more than a dozen new or renewed Mission Initiatives in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and Central America since the 1990s. Current Mission Initiatives, and those emerging, are responses to God’s calling to spread spiritual and social holiness throughout the earth,

working in specific locations. The Council of Bishops consults with Global Ministries’ general secretary and assigns a bishop to each Mission Initiative to provide episcopal oversight. Several of the current initiatives are mature to the point of becoming integral parts of the regular United Methodist connection; some will go the path of church autonomy. Each in its own way inspires the United Methodist people to follow God leading into other new areas and cultures. They also provide lessons for the renewal and revitalization of congregations in annual conferences in the United States, Africa, Europe, and the Philippines. In the four years between 2009 and 2012, a total of 574 new faith communities were launched within 13 initiatives, a harvest far exceeding the goal of 400. This success bears witness to the reality that it is God’s mission that is the heart and soul of this work. The 13 are: Cambodia Cameroon Eurasia Honduras Laos Lithuania Mongolia Senegal Vietnam

Central Asia Latvia Malawi Thailand

The goal for 2013 to 2016 is to launch 600 new faith communities.



Malawi’s transition from Mission Initiative to Provisional Annual Conference started with the 2012 General Conference in Tampa, Florida, and was celebrated in Malawi and by the Global Ministries Board of Directors in 2013. A transition of three others will happen by 2015. The oldest is the Russia Initiative, where there is a renewal of Methodism in a region closed during the decades of the Soviet Union. The fall of the USSR in 1991 paved the way for renewal initiatives in Latvia and Lithuania and for new work in Central Asia Republics that had also been under Soviet control. Three initiatives in Southeast Asia—in Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam—were planted and nurtured by former refugees from those countries who returned as missionaries through Global Ministries after having been introduced to Methodism in the United States. Thailand would later become an initiative site. The spark in Mongolia was a touring young adult mission choir. In Cameroon and Senegal in West Africa, impetus came from local individuals who experienced Methodist communities while living abroad. In Malawi, the mission energy came from neighboring Zimbabwe, but quickly became Malawian. These locales face some common, some quite distinctive challenges; they have a range of assets, and set their goals in keeping with situations. The brief profiles in this publication give snapshots of the initiatives in their distinct contexts. Typical of each and not spelled out in detail is a network of partner congregations, annual conferences, and institutions in other parts of the world, primarily Europe and the United States. Volunteer-In-Mission teams figure in the past, present, and future of each initiative. The 13 Mission Initiatives provide valuable lessons and insights for the church at large regarding factors that make for successful mission today. Important lessons are that dynamic churches in any context: 1) take responsibility for their own assets, decisions,



and futures; 2) develop indigenous leaders who understand and practice evangelism and social justice; and 3) become self-sustaining. Perhaps the most difficult challenge is that of becoming self-sustaining. This is a challenge for churches founded by contemporary Mission Initiatives and also for those started in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Many are in areas of low incomes and systemic poverty. There is a tendency for patterns of economic dependency to emerge; patterns that cannot be continued indefinitely. These lessons, or key learnings, have strong implications for the way in which indigenous leaders, missionaries, partners, UMVIM teams, and individual volunteers operate. In Mission Together Coordinators are assigned by Global Ministries to develop healthy partnerships between conference/district/church leaders around the world and leaders in the Mission Initiatives. These are partnerships that recognize the Mission Initiative leadership’s assets and priorities, and empower them in their efforts towards development and self-sufficiency. The emphasis must always be on preparing lay and clergy leaders to assume the major roles in the church’s development. All of the Mission Initiatives of Global Ministries do or have involved missionaries, who are of significance in early stages of the work. The strongest initiatives, those best able to stand on their own feet going forward, gradually increase the number and capacity of indigenous leaders. Each initiative is a channel through which United Methodists are in mission together with Christ and the world. All United Methodists are invited to become involved with one or more of the Mission Initiatives through prayer, study of the region, financial support of missionaries and projects, and sending Volunteer-In-Mission teams. Following are one-page descriptions of the current situation in each of the Mission Initiatives, and additional information can be found at


mission initiative


he Kingdom of Cambodia, once known as the Khmer Empire, has undergone significant political changes in the last 50 years. The Vietnam War spilled into the country, giving rise to the Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot. Even after the fall of the Khmer Rouge in the late 1970s, Cambodia remained largely socialist until 1993, when the wartorn country reunited under a monarchy. Since then, there has been rapid economic growth, making Cambodia a leading financial force in Asia with strong textile, agriculture, construction, and tourist sectors. In 2005, oil and natural gas deposits were discovered along its shoreline, and commercial extraction began in 2013.

Assets: In less than a decade, leadership of the

The official religion of Cambodia is Theravada Buddhism, practiced by nearly 95 percent of the population. Despite a long history of Catholic and Protestant missionary work in the country, Christianity has not flourished. Global Ministries’ work began in the early 1990s. The United Methodist mission originally began when Cambodian refugees became United Methodists in the 1970s. In 1998, four Cambodian Americans were deployed as Global Ministries missionaries to Cambodia, joining with other Methodist bodies such as the Korean Methodist Church, the World Federation of Chinese Methodists, United Methodists in France/Switzerland, and the Singapore Methodist Church in developing active missions. In 2004, the leadership of these Methodist bodies agreed to join together to form one church and mission, working with local representatives in shaping the outreach.

CHAD (Community Health and Agricultural

Challenges: One serious challenge is to help leaders, including district superintendents, fulfill their responsibilities effectively. Many of the lay and clergy leaders are not familiar with the beliefs and practices of Methodism. Progress is being made, but this will continue to be a challenge for some time.

Methodist Mission Church has shifted from foreign missionaries to native Cambodian Methodists. The local Khmer leadership is strong and significant progress continues in the cultivation of local leadership. Cambodian Methodist churches are getting stronger and on target to be responsible for paying 20 percent of the total budget in 2013.

Goals: The Cambodian Mission Initiative is focused on new church starts, particularly in the Kratie province; outreach through ministries to street children; economic and community health development and microfinance projects through Development), providing leadership training in conjunction with the Singapore Methodist Church; and developing a major campus ministry in the Svay Rieng province. The latter includes the construction of a facility for 98 students plus program space. The plan anticipates the registration of the autonomous Methodist Church of Cambodia by 2016.

Statistics: There are 151 churches, a number of faith communities, and 140 pastors.

In Mission Together Coordinator: Jennifer Oh Regional Executive: Jong Sung Kim Assigned Bishop: Bishop Larry M. Goodpaster






mission initiative


ocated on the central West coast of Africa, the Republic of Cameroon, or République du Cameroun, is the home of 19 million people and the homeland of the Bantu people. Unlike many of its neighboring countries, Cameroon is politically and socially stable, though the majority of Cameroonians live in poverty. Healthcare quality is poor and life expectancy is extremely low. United Methodism is one of the newest denominations in Cameroon. Influenced by the work of local leaders, the church is grounded in a holistic approach, spiritually and physically, in its outreach. The Global Ministries mission initiative is supervised by the Côte d’Ivoire Annual Conference.

Challenges: Developing local leadership is one of the challenges facing the Cameroon Mission Initiative, especially since the denomination is registered as a nongovernmental organization (NGO) rather than a church. The lack of mission facilities makes it difficult to hold worship services or organize clinics and schools. The bilingual culture— the country’s languages are French and English— make communications difficult.

Assets: A dedicated core team of three United

Initiative is planting new congregations; increasing HIV/AIDS education and preventing malaria, holding eye clinics, and creating microcredit programs to address health and economic needs. Other goals are to place a Global Ministries missionary to restart an agricultural program and to appoint two new Nationals in Mission; increase church membership to a 2,000 minimum; strengthen existing relationships and recruit new partners; and plan a roundtable of Cameroon churches and partners in 2014. Efforts are ongoing to register the United Methodist Church as a church. A campaign is also underway to raise funds in Cameroon and among their global partners to match a Global Ministries grant to buy land and build a mission center in Yaoundé, the capital of the country. Long-term goals include holding annual mission sessions and establishing a Provisional Annual Conference or an autonomous Methodist Church by 2020.

Statistics: The Cameroon Methodist Church is

comprised of 28 churches and an additional five faith communities. There are currently nine ordained pastors, seven probationary pastors, and nine lay preachers.

In Mission Together Coordinator: Randy Russ Regional Executive: Joseph Washington Assigned Bishop: Bishop Benjamin Boni

Patrick Friday

Methodist missionaries, a supportive cabinet, and strong relationships with local partners are key to the mission’s success. Partnerships with US conferences and churches provide a vibrant support network. Lay and ordained pastors in Cameroon are deeply committed to the mission of the church, and the mission initiative is enriched with a strong, vibrant youth ministry. The mission initiative also has a good relationship with the Council of Protestant Churches in Cameroon.

Goals: As part of a holistic ministry, the Mission





Central Asia mission initiative


ong a crossroads for East and West trade and historically part of the Silk Road, Central Asia stretches from China, west to the Caspian Sea, and from Afghanistan, south to Russia. Countries that lie within the area include Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan, all former Soviet Republics. Part of the Eastern Russia and Central Asia Provision Annual Conference and under the jurisdiction of the Eurasia Episcopal Area, the Central Asia District of the United Methodist Church spans a region of political, cultural, and ethnic differences. There are large populations of ethnic Koreans, Russians, and Ukrainians, and the churches in the area are young and growing. Consequently, the bishop of Eurasia has called for the development of leaders and youth ministry. The district also participated in the development of the Roadmap to 2015, a comprehensive plan for church development and selfsufficiency that originated within the Russia Initiative. Global Ministries started the Central Asia Mission Initiative in 2003, and by 2006, two mission centers had been established, one in Almaty, Kazakhstan, and the other in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. In 2011, the Center for Church Leadership was established to help train local lay and clergy leaders.

Challenges: The complex, often-oppressive political

Patrick Friday

environment is one of the greatest challenges faced by the church, and while several United Methodist churches have been officially registered as legal entities in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, the church is not registered as a denomination. In some countries of the region, the church has to act as a nongovernmental organization (NGO) in its role as an agent for social and economic change, and the spiritual outreach is through word of mouth. The geographical breadth

of the region encompasses broad cultural and ethnic diversities, as well as cultures deeply rooted in Islam.

Assets: Like the Christian church in the first

century, the drive for ministry by local leaders is truly inspirational and courageous. Three missionaries and three Nationals in Mission provide outstanding support for leadership development and training, and spiritual outreach.

Goals: The Mission Initiative is committed to

helping the churches in Central Asia with continued growth, to progress towards self-sufficiency and, ultimately, in becoming a Provisional Annual Conference. This will require sustained advancements in all five areas of the Roadmap to 2015: quality in ministry, education, self-sufficiency, mission and evangelism, and social outreach. At the Central Asia Roundtable held in March 2013, key goals for the year were determined. They include supporting the Center for Church Leadership in Almaty to educate pastors and lay leaders, providing assistance with youth ministry, including support for the 2013 Evangelization Youth Camp, and building Covenant and In Mission Together partnerships with new churches in the United States.

Statistics: In Central Asia, there are 11 churches, an additional five faith communities, and 11 pastors.

In Mission Together Coordinator: Mi Rhang Baek Regional Executive: Ăœllas Tankler Assigned Bishop: Bishop Eduard Khegay






mission initiative


lobal Ministries’ Honduras Mission Initiative began as missionaries from the Caribbean traveled to Honduras in the late 1990s. Indigenous mission pastors and missionaries from different countries joined in the work, much of which centered on recovery efforts following Hurricane Mitch. Most of the faith communities are in rural areas and involve large numbers of women and children. While local churches are able to fund local work, the majority is unable to provide salaries for pastors or afford facilities.

Challenges: Mission programs are in the process of development in collaboration with United Methodist Volunteers in Mission’s work in construction, education, environmental ministries, healthcare, and economic development. Because most existing congregations are in rural areas, there is a need for work in urban areas. All local churches need to become more self-sufficient. Help is needed to support small groups as they evolve into house churches. There is also a need to train leaders and pastors, particularly among the native Hondurans. Theology, spiritual formation, and pastoral and Methodist studies have been identified as critical needs. Only one indigenous mission pastor has a university degree.

Assets: The Mission Initiative benefits from UMVIM’s

There are four Global Ministries missionaries serving the Initiative.

Goals: At the recent annual gathering, the

approved priorities include: 1) promoting house churches, 2) offering workshops on the relationship between Works of Piety and Works of Mercy, 3) forming local church choirs, 4) crafting liturgical vestments, 5) increasing Wesleyan Studies, and 6) constructing a national center. The Honduras Mission Initiative’s long-term goal is to become a Mission or Provisional Annual Conference.

Statistics: There are 18 congregations and 52 small groups.

In Mission Together Coordinator: Greg Gelzinnis

Regional Executive:

Edgar Avitia

Assigned Bishop:

Bishop Elias G. Galvan

Greg Gelzinnis

work, which indirectly relates to church development and generally strengthens the mission. Men’s, women’s, and youth groups have been organized and Christian education resources are being published. A Committee of the Ordained and Licensed Ministry

is strengthening the credentialing process. The mission superintendent and bishop hold regular meetings and two annual retreats with pastors. In the last year, three church facilities were constructed or remodeled using local resources, three congregations were formed in the Northern urban area, and two avanzadas (missions) became congregations.




mission initiative


aos is the only landlocked country in Southeast Asia. Under French colonial rule during the early 20th century and briefly occupied by Japan during World War II, Laos temporarily attained independence in 1945 before once more coming under French control until 1953. For the next 30 years, Laos was a monarchy. During the 1960s and 1970s it was swept up in the Vietnam War and served as a supply route along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. It was heavily bombed by the US military, and ultimately, the Pathet Lao (the Communist forces) seized control of the government. Two significant problems facing the nation are deforestation and its impact on the environment, and oppression of the minority Hmong population. Global Ministries’ work in Laos was built on foundations laid by leaders of Hmong United Methodist churches in the United States. In 2005, a Global Ministries missionary couple was deployed to Laos. Since then, the mission initiative in Laos has grown steadily and the United Methodist Church has a significant presence in eight out of 17 provinces.

Challenges: The biggest challenge facing the mission initiative is registration with the government. Currently, the church is not legally registered despite several attempts to do this. While the mission does not consider itself an underground church, ministries are difficult to develop in villages and towns without permission from local authorities.

Assets: The commitment of Laos’ 67 pastors and lay church leaders is one of the major strengths of the initiative. The mission has a well-organized national council, or governing structure, which works effectively at coordination and administering the mission. The growth of the work has been very steady and this trend is expected to continue.



Goals: The mission hopes to develop in all 17

Laotian provinces by 2020, and establish 10 cell groups and 100 churches by 2015. The immediate goal is to strengthen and empower Laos’ leadership, while continuing to work with officials from the government to register the church. Major areas of focus are congregational development, economic development, educational ministries, and leadership development. This includes training for church planters and equipping leaders and pastors for effective leadership in spiritual development and church administration. The training will not only provide leadership skills for persons who are currently serving as leaders but also focus on recruiting new persons, especially women and young adults. Economic projects include developing new sites for successful home-based mushroom cultivation and a vocational training school. Future plans call for a mission center at the church in Vientiane to serve as headquarters for the Laos United Methodist Church.

Statistics: There are currently 69 churches, 20 faith communities, and 67 pastors.

In Mission Together Coordinator: Joel Rabb Regional Executive: Jong Sung Kim Assigned Bishop: Bishop Bruce R. Ough


mission initiative


nder the Soviet Union for 50 years, Latvia declared its independence in 1990. The Baltic nation is one of the least populated countries in the European Union, having 2.217 million people in a landmass of 24,938 square miles. Historically a predominantly Protestant nation, Latvia experienced the suppression of churches during the Soviet period. The small Latvian Methodist Church was closed, being viewed as an agent of the United States because of ties to American church organizations. In the early 1990s, with the help of Global Ministries and the official recognition of the Estonia Annual Conference, the Latvia United Methodist Church resumed. The Latvia Initiative is a mature mission in transition toward full participation in the United Methodist connectional system. The plan is to celebrate in 2015 the move from mission initiative to status as a district of the Estonia Annual Conference.

Challenges: Despite overall growth, the church continues

Assets: Indigenous pastoral leadership is strong and enhanced by the large number of young pastors and female pastors. Diaconal ministries are creative and strong ties exist between the Latvian church and its partners in Europe and the US. Outreach programs are vibrant and work continues to help congregations develop financial self-sufficiency. A wellfunctioning organizational structure encourages growth and development.

Goals: Ministry emphases are on evangelism, and on children, youth, and diaconal ministries. A primary goal for the Latvian Methodist Church is to increase the number of churches that are financially independent and to continue Christian Education outreach to local communities.

Statistics: Currently, there are 12 churches and 13 pastors.

Patrick Friday

financial dependence on partners, a factor slowing selfsufficiency. Local support for pastors’ salaries is difficult to achieve.

In Mission Together Coordinator: Mel Munchinsky Regional Executive: Ăœllas Tankler Assigned Bishop: Bishop Christian Alsted




Patrick Friday

mission initiative



he first of the former Soviet republics to declare its independence, Lithuania is the largest of the three Baltic states and lies to the east of Sweden. The country has one of the fastest-growing economies in Europe and is a stable and strongly democratic republic.

Ministries and a Lithuanian-born German pastor,

Over three-quarters of the population is Roman Catholic, and all churches were suppressed during the Soviet occupation; many of the laity and clergy were killed, tortured, or deported. Since the restoration of independence, many Protestant denominations have established missions in the country.

from mission initiative to its current status as a

The Methodist presence began there in 1901, long before the Soviet period. The current United Methodist Church was organized after staff members from the General Board of Global

educational materials. Perhaps the biggest


the Rev. Arthur Leifert, visited in 1995 to look for traces of Methodism. A renewal effort emerged from that fact-finding effort. The first revived Methodist worship service was celebrated on August 30, 1995, in Kaunas. The plan in 2015 is to celebrate the move district of the Estonia Annual Conference.

Challenges: The church in Lithuania has been experiencing declining membership and some difficult relationships within churches. Indigenous lay leadership is needed as well as United Methodist challenge facing the church is dependence on financial support from partners and the need for financial self-sufficiency.

Assets: Pastoral leadership has risen from the local community, including many active, young pastors and diaconal ministers. There are several church buildings and facilities owned by the church and strong partnerships with churches in Europe and the United States, including the integration of In Mission Together partnerships. The structure of the church is strong, and intentional work is underway for churches to become self-sufficient. Two Global Ministries’ missionaries and a Swedish Methodist missionary serve on the Mission Initiative staff.

Goals: The Lithuanian Mission Initiative wants to increase the number of churches that are financially independent and help congregations understand stewardship and financial responsibility. A Lithuania vision team is visiting charge conferences in an effort to increase understanding among lay people about stewardship and the need for growth in commitment. The objective is for the Lithuanian church to embody a Methodist identity

that is growing and reaching out to Lithuanian communities. Major areas of focus are discipleship, evangelism, youth work, and new church plants.

Statistics: There are 10 churches, two additional faith

communities, eight pastors, and two missionary pastors.

In Mission Together Coordinator: Jeanie Reimer Regional Executive: Üllas Tankler Assigned Bishop: Bishop Christian Alsted





Malawi Provisional annual conference


alawi’s transition from Mission Initiative to Provisional Annual Conference started with the 2012 General Conference in Tampa, Florida, and will be celebrated during the Global Ministries October 2013 meeting of the Board of Directors. The Malawi Provisional Annual Conference is fully within the United Methodist connection under the supervision of Bishop Nhiwatiwa of the Zimbabwe Annual Conference.

Conference through its superintendent. There are missionaries from Germany and from Global Ministries who work with the district superintendent and cabinet. United-Methodist-Volunteer-in-Mission (UMVIM) teams add to the capacity-building assets. A model of lay evangelists starting new preaching points continues to empower the work of the laity and reach new people in new areas.

Malawi is a landlocked, predominantly rural country in southeastern Africa, a former British colony and one of the least developed areas in the world. It has a stable democratic government, and the second female president on the continent. The United Methodist Church in Malawi was begun in 1987 through mission outreach of the neighboring Zimbabwe Annual Conference. Six Malawian pastors, trained in Zimbabwean schools, returned to their home country and started 12 Methodist circuits in Malawi in 1998.

new church starts, clergy and lay training in theology and Methodism, health and nutrition, agriculture, and education for young people and adults. The conference is in the process of establishing a yearly membership fee of $1 per member, expanding a microcredit program to members, strengthening joint ministries between women of the United Methodist Church in Malawi and Zimbabwe, increasing work with UMVIM teams, and ensuring that a church farm in Mchinji provides a steady income to fund conference activities. The objective of the Malawi Provisional Annual Conference is to become a full Annual Conference in 2016.

The Malawi United Methodist Church is a dynamic and fragile young church. The conference is intent on both numerical and spiritual growth seeking to be holistic in its ministries. The superintendent, Rev. Daniel Mhone, is a true visionary leader. The conference has excellent lay leaders, some of whom are Africa University graduates. Among the ordained clergy, there is one pastor just graduated from Zomba Theological College in Malawi. Two other pastors are in seminary—one at Africa University and the other at the United Theological School in Zimbabwe.

Statistics: There are 150 churches; 16 other faith communities; and 25 pastors, of which two are ordained. There are 23 male and two female pastors.

In Mission Together Coordinator: Cayce Stapp Regional Executive: Mande Muyombo Assigned Bishop: Bishop Eben K. Nhiwatiwa

Patrick Friday

Growing at a rapid pace, the Malawian church is well connected to partners in Germany and the United States. The laity is fully involved in decision-making for the young provisional annual conference. The church has its own cabinet and has links to the Zimbabwe

Goals: The conference is building capacity around




mission initiative


ongolia is the 19th-largest country in the world by landmass, with a population of only 2.8 million. It is covered by steppes and forests, with cold mountainous regions to the north and west and the Gobi Desert to the south. It was ruled for centuries by nomadic tribes before being annexed by China in the 17th century. In the early 20th century, the country broke from China, becoming the Mongolian People’s Republic in 1924, a satellite state of the Soviet Union. After the fall of the Soviet Union, Mongolia emerged as a multiparty democratic country with a market economy. The majority of Mongolians are Tibetan Buddhists and other religions were historically unwelcome until changes in attitudes in the last century permitted other faiths, including Christianity. Global Ministries’ mission initiative in Mongolia began with a Hospice Ministry in 2002. The work expanded in 2004 to include congregational development through a partnership with the Korean United Methodist caucus. Most mission activity is concentrated around the capital city Ulaanbaatar, which is home to two churches that serve as the base for United Methodist ministries in Mongolia. These “center churches” each have a membership of more than 200 and serve local communities through various outreach ministries, including afterschool programs for children and job training for women. The two center churches have raised many of the local pastors who now serve churches in other areas.

Challenges: The traditional nomadic culture of Mongolia shapes life beyond Ulaanbaatar, making it difficult to develop communities of faith outside of the capital area.



Assets: The Hospice Ministry serves 55 to 60 terminally ill cancer patients at any given time. It provides medical and spiritual care and inspires families to seek information about the United Methodist Church, leading some to join the church. Recognized by the Mongolian government, this ministry works closely with public health programs. Many of the young local pastors serving churches in the country are highly educated and play significant leadership roles in the expansion of the mission initiative.

Goals: The “center-church” model works well and continues to be the strategy for growing the church. Over the next three years, the initiative will expand the United Methodist Church base, adding at least two new churches a year.

Statistics: Four Global Ministries missionaries serve in Mongolia. There are seven churches and seven pastors.

In Mission Together Coordinator: Patrick Friday (Interim) Regional Executive: Jong Sung Kim Assigned Bishop: Bishop Jeremiah Park

Russia/Eurasia mission initiative


fter the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, a number of countries, including Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, and Moldova re-emerged and declared their independence. Global Ministries’ work in Russia began almost immediately after the Communist regime fell. Its primary purpose was delivering food to the Moscow region, but soon the Russia Initiative expanded beyond aid programs to include re-establishment of Methodism in the countries of the former Soviet Union. Methodism had roots in both northwest and far east regions of Russia prior to the Communist Revolution. Global Ministries designed the program on the Wesleyan holistic approach to mission, which combines both spiritual and physical nurturing. The Eurasia Annual Conference was established in 1997, with expansion to four annual conferences in 2003 and a fifth annual conference in 2005. The United Methodist Theological Seminary in Moscow was launched in 1997. The Russia/Eurasia Initiative is a mature mission program that is in transition from the mission initiative phase to the Global Ministries/established church partnership within the United Methodist connection.

Challenges: The vast geographic size and cultural/

providing relational and financial support to the emerging churches in Eurasia. It is the first Global Ministries mission program based on a churchto-church partnership model that empowers local leaders and ministries.

Goals: In 2009 the United Methodist Church in

Eurasia adopted a vision called “The Roadmap to 2015,” a comprehensive plan of church development and self-sufficiency by 2015. The initiative will assist the United Methodist Church in Eurasia in its various ministries, including education, mission, evangelism, and social outreach. Partner churches will be encouraged to remain engaged and their work is coordinated with the efforts of the bishop and Eurasia leadership team. A Eurasia Evangelism Academy took place in 2013. The mission initiative is transitioning into annual conference structures within the United Methodist connection, completing the initiative phase of the program by May 16, 2015, at the Russia-Eurasia Partnership Roundtable in Moscow, Russia.

Statistics: There are 91 churches and five faith

communities, with 113 pastors, four missionaries, and seven Nationals in Mission.

ethnic diversity of Eurasia have been a challenge to the mission. Another significant challenge facing the mission initiative is to develop a culture of self-sufficiency. Bishop Hans Växby (retired) said that there has been a fall into a “deep dependency trap,” with Eurasian congregations becoming too dependent on US partners.

In Mission Together Coordinator: Patti Clifford

Assets: The backbone of the mission initiative is the

Assigned Bishop: Bishop Eduard Khegay

Partner Church Program, with US-based churches

Regional Executive: Üllas Tankler






mission initiative


former colony of France, Senegal is a small country on the West coast of Africa. It lacks extensive natural resources. In rural areas farmers grow millet and peanuts and raise livestock, while in the capital of Dakar there is regional banking, trade, and tourism. The majority of the population, approximately 80 percent, is Muslim. Global Ministries began its work in Senegal in 1989, deploying missionaries to help start social programs and a mission. The mission initiative has been registered with the government since 1995. The mission is supervised by Bishop Benjamin Boni of the Côte d’Ivoire Conference, who presided at the first annual meeting in 2006.

Challenges: The United Methodist Church is

one of the minority denominations and remains largely unknown in the country. Some programs are familiar because the mission was initially set up as an NGO. Growth has been slow and poverty within the membership has made it difficult to support the mission financially. There are few ordained pastors and no worship center in Dakar, the capital city.

Assets: The mission benefits from strong leadership and progressive-minded clergy. The Senegal church is seeking to become self-sufficient. Congregations are vibrant and the government assists with the social work of the mission.

Goals: The Mission Initiative is focused on leadership development, education, and English training for children and adults; pastoral training; church planting and evangelism; prison ministries, wellness, and micro-credit programs. The plan is to establish a Provisional Annual Conference, become a district of an existing annual conference, or emerge as an autonomous Methodist Church by 2016. Global Ministries works with the district superintendent and Volunteers in Mission to train pastors, educate children, raise funds to purchase land for the new mission center, purchase land for church construction, and place a young adult intern and National in Mission.

Statistics: There are 19 churches and six faith communities in Senegal, with eight ordained pastors and 12 lay pastors.

In Mission Together Coordinator: Tony Fuller Regional Executive: Joseph Washington

Patrick Friday

Assigned Bishop: Bishop Benjamin Boni






mission initiative


hailand is a constitutional monarchy. Between 1985 and 1996, it experienced rapid economic growth. The country is home to 2.2 million legal and illegal migrants and a number of expatriates from developed countries.

Challenges: It is difficult to establish a strong

The majority of Thai citizens practice Theravada Buddhism. Less than 5 percent of the population is Islamic and less than 1 percent Christian. Protestant Christianity has been present in the country for more than 180 years.

for center churches, with a high potential for development in Bangkok, Pattaya, Korat, and Chiang Mai.

The first Global Ministries missionaries to Thailand were deployed in 2006 to work with a group of Thai churches in Chonburi, south of Bangkok. The leadership of these Thai churches had gone through a two-year training on Methodism provided by Global Ministries. The initial goal was to use these churches as the base from which to develop a nationwide United Methodist Mission. While this specific partnership strategy proved unsuccessful, the nationwide effort continues from other geographical areas.

Assets: Potential sites have been identified

Goals: Compared to goals set for other countries

in Southeast Asia, the scope of the mission initiative in Thailand is relatively small and focused on the development of center churches. For the next five years, this development will be the major emphasis. Pastoral training and coaching will be offered in Bangkok with an eye towards creating a mega church, by utilizing the methodology used by Global Ministries Missionary Ut Van To in Vietnam to foster cell group formation and expansion. Monthly meetings for pastors are planned, and the mission hopes to create two scholarships for pastoral training. The mission will also work on creating children’s ministries and outreach.

Statistics: There are currently six churches in

Thailand, which are served by seven pastors and two Global Ministries missionaries.

In Mission Together Coordinator: Karen Weiss Regional Executive: Jong Sung Kim Assigned Bishop: Bishop Bruce R. Ough

Karen Weiss

In 2009, the mission initiative began social/outreach ministry for children with HIV/AIDS in Chiang Mai. There is now an orphanage for girls and the mission provides assistance in medical care for children infected with HIV/AIDS in neighborhoods around the city of Chiang Mai. The approach to church development in Thailand is that of “center-churches.” Global Ministries’ resources help the sites become self-sufficient congregations, in part by helping develop cell groups that can become local churches when they reach 20 adult members, with pastors provided. Once fully developed, these center churches will provide financial and human resources to expand mission work in Thailand.

presence in urban areas; populations in the hill country are more open to Protestant outreach. Financial resources are also in short supply.






mission initiative


ietnam is a socialist republic that has experienced more than its fair share of conflict. Colonized by France in the mid-19th century, it was occupied by Japan during World War II. After that war, a protracted war of liberation expelled the French. The country was divided into North and South, which engaged in protracted warfare involving other countries, including the United States on the side of the South. That war ended in 1975 with a northern victory. Long isolated from the rest of the world, the united Vietnam became a part of the world economic system in the late 1980s, and the World Trade Organization in 2007. United Methodist mission work in Vietnam began in 2002 with the placement of a missionary couple, who had left as refugees years earlier. Since then, the growth of our mission work in Vietnam has been phenomenal, with the main focus on the Mekong Delta region south of Ho Chi Minh City. The mission also extends into the central and northern regions. Growth is attributable in part to a shift in the government’s attitude toward religion beginning in 2007. As it joined the World Trade Organization, the country became more open to religion, especially Protestant churches, in order to show the world that it respects human rights. A further development was the purchase of a building in 2010 to serve as a national office and training center.

Challenges: Church registration as a denomination

Assets: There is strong local leadership including

the ordination of the first 12 Local Elders in Mission in January 2013. Many local pastors are highly educated; most have completed a college education before they became pastors. This high level of education along with the commitment to serve Christ’s church make them very effective in developing and expanding the mission work. Along with congregational development, training programs for pastoral and lay leaders continues to be the strength. Each of the current nine districts has wellestablished training programs, with many locally led.

Goals: In 2013, the Vietnam Mission launched

Vision 2020 with the aim of 800 new churches, 100 each year by 2020. Other future priorities include: expanded ministries with Agent Orange victims, training for lay evangelists, ministries with orphans, and registration of the church and of UMCOR.

Statistics: There are currently 256 churches, 80 additional faith communities, and 248 pastors.

In Mission Together Coordinator: Patrick Friday (Interim) Regional Executive: Jong Sung Kim Assigned Bishop: Bishop Bruce R. Ough

Patrick Friday

in Vietnam continues to be a major challenge. The Vietnam United Methodist Church is an unrecognized church entity, and therefore it is not easy for foreign Christians to interact with local United Methodist churches and leaders in Vietnam.

In 2008, Global Ministries submitted an application for church registration to the Vietnamese government.




Cover Photos Top, right, and left: Patrick Friday; bottom: Greg Gelzinnis


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