|Mission summit points to church expansion|
The Revs. ‹llas Tankler and Patrick Friday
sing during the first-ever United Methodist Mission Initiatives Summit
sponsored by the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries. UMNS
photos by Russ and Mary Olsson.
By John Nuessle*
April 25, 2008 | PLANO, Texas (UMNS)
The hymn "How Great Thou Art," sung in 10 languages, was the
faith-filled affirmation of the first-ever United Methodist Mission
The St. Andrew United Methodist Choir performs at the Mission Initiatives summit April 17-18 in Plano, Texas.
Bishop Hans Všxby of Moscow, head of the Eurasia Episcopal Area,
began the hymn about the awesome wonder of God in Swedish, the language
in which it was written. He was then joined by voices in nine other
languages found within the global United Methodist Church.
Sponsored by the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, the
April 17-18 summit brought together 300 people to celebrate new
ministries of evangelism and church expansion through 13 initiatives on
They shared stories of faith and renewal and built bridges among 13
mission initiatives in Asia, Africa, Russia and the Baltic region,
Central America and the network of In Mission Together in South Central
Europe and the Balkans.
The initiatives and support networks have emerged over the last two
decades, in large part because areas of the world formerly closed to
missionaries were opened with the fall of Soviet communism and the
relaxation of restrictions on mission outreach in other parts of the
The Plano gathering, hosted by St. Andrews United Methodist Church,
was the first to bring together representatives of church-growth efforts
extending from Mongolia to Honduras met to celebrate faith, compare
notes and face the future together.
"We are creating a completely new synergy here -- people representing
different networks meeting together in an amazing atmosphere," said the
Rev. ‹llas Tankler, a Global Ministries staff executive for Europe.
Dick Arnold, a layman from Virginia promoting In Mission Together,
noted that "the joining of voices from around the world in worship and
song was a powerful message that we are a global church."
The summit also linked representatives with United Methodist Volunteer
In Mission teams that have gone to particular initiative countries
through workshops focused on each initiative.
The Rev. Mike Slaughter of Ginghamsburg United
Methodist Church speaks to 300 people celebrating evangelism and church
expansion on four continents
at the first-ever United Methodist Mission Initiatives.
The Board of Global Ministries, which launched the initiatives,
provides a coordinator for each effort and the partnership networks that
form around each. The initiatives are in Cameroon and Senegal in
Africa; Cambodia, Central Asia, Mongolia, Nepal and Southeast Asia
(Laos, Thailand and Vietnam) in Asia; Lithuania, Latvia and Russia
(including Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine) in Europe; and Honduras in
Central America. In Mission Together, a related emphasis, covers South
Central Europe and the Balkans.
Jim Burris, an architect from Kentucky who coordinates the Honduras
Initiative, pointed out that "when your church becomes a missional
church, it will be a community of faith full of life, growth and joy,
being challenged to fulfill the Great Commission with more intensity,
more determination and more commitment."
The Rev. Mike Slaughter, pastor of the Ginghamsburg United Methodist
Church of Tipp City, Ohio, gave moving and practical examples of how
participation in the global ministries of the whole church can radiate
from a local congregation. His congregation has worked with the mission
agency on a project in Sudan.
The Rev. Patrick Friday, director of the Global Ministries In Mission
Together program and summit coordinator, said he appreciated the
testimonies of new church leaders whose lives have been transformed by
the initiatives. "The United Methodist connection is alive and strong in
the areas of pioneer evangelism and church growth represented in the
mission initiatives," Friday said.
*Nuessle is a staff executive with the Evangelization and Church Growth Unit, United Methodist Board of Global Ministries.
News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Commentary: The business of the church is mission
Sudan Project serves as model for United Methodists
Board of Global Ministries