New United Methodist missionaries to serve 10 countries
Oct. 16, 2006
|A UMNS photo by Cassandra Heller
Revs. Sherri Tabaka-Morrissey and her husband, Michael W. Morrissey
Jr., are the first United Methodist missionaries assigned to Thailand.
By Elliott Wright*
STAMFORD, Conn. (UMNS) — Fourteen new
United Methodist missionaries each received a loaf of bread for the journey
from 14 retiring missionaries as the new missionaries were sent to serve in
10 different countries of Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
The dramatic liturgical act took place during a service of worship, in which
the new missionaries were commissioned and retiring missionaries were
honored, at the Oct. 9-12 annual meeting of the United Methodist Board of
Bishop Violet Fisher of North Central and Western New York said in a sermon
that the work of the new missionaries would not be easy but that they would
be sustained by Jesus Christ, the "Bread of Life — bread with a capital B."
Her biblical text was the account of Jesus feeding the 5,000 in John
The new missionaries include pastors, educators, health professionals and an
agronomist. They are assigned to Bolivia, Cambodia, Chile, the Democratic
Republic of Congo, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Mozambique, Senegal, Thailand and
Two of the group, the Rev. Sherri Tabaka-Morrissey and her husband, the Rev.
Michael W. Morrissey Jr., of the Kentucky Annual Conference, are the first
United Methodist missionaries assigned to Thailand.
The couple will serve as pastors and teachers at God's Purpose Church, a
congregation in the city of Chon Buri, an hour outside of Bangkok,
Thailand's capital. The independent congregation and the United Methodist
mission agency have been forging ties during the past three years.
God's Purpose Church ("Pradumri" in Thai) was started in 1999 as a house
church. It became a congregation in 2002 and today has an average Sunday
worship attendance of more than 100. Thailand has only about 8,000
Christians, but Christianity is steadily growing, and there are no
government restrictions against churches.
The congregation has active Bible and fellowship groups and hopes to become
the base of a network of local churches and ministries in Thailand.
500 years of service
Fourteen of 24 missionaries retiring this year were at the meeting in
Stamford. Bishop Joel N. Martinez of San Antonio, president of the mission
board, paid tribute to the retirees, who collectively represent almost 500
years of mission service.
|A UMNS photo by Cassandra Heller
The Rev. R. Randy Day (left) and Bishop Joel N. Martinez (right) lay
hands on newly commissioned missionary Irene Mparutsa.
Deaconess Marian Martin, formerly director of the Gulfside Assembly in
Waveland, Miss. — a center destroyed by Hurricane Katrina but being rebuilt
— spoke on behalf of the retirees. Her counsel to the new missionaries:
"Love God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind."
Fisher, a board vice president who was herself a missionary in Africa in her
youth, spoke forcefully about the call to mission service and the "servant
role" of missionaries. And, she said, "God never calls anyone who God does
In addition to the Morrisseys, the new missionaries include:
- The Rev. Kimberly Brown-Whale and the Rev. Richard Brown-Whale,
Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference, who are returning to missionary
service. They are assigned to the Senegal Mission and will be based in
- John and Suzanne Nunn Funk, North Alabama Annual Conference, who will be
working at the Colorado Technical Agricultural High School in Rio Colorado,
- Becky Harrell, Southwest Texas Annual Conference, who will continue as
coordinator of Methodist Extension to Andean Youth, Iquique, Chile, a post
she held for several years as a volunteer in mission.
- Sun Lae Kim, Greater New Jersey Annual Conference, who is assigned to
congregational development work at the United Methodist Mission,
- The Rev. Dennis Lipke and Dale Lipke, Virginia Annual Conference, who are
going to the Cambine Mission, Mozambique.
- Irene Mparutsa, Zimbabwe West Annual Conference, who will serve as
coordinator for community health, agriculture and microenterprise in Phnom
- Tshala Mwengo, South Congo Annual Conference, who is assigned as director
of the Mujila Falls Agricultural Project in Mwinilunga, Zambia.
- Hee Jin Park, California Pacific Annual Conference, who is coordinator of
evangelism and church growth at the United Methodist Center in Almaty,
- Farayi Tiriwepi, Zimbabwe West Annual Conference, who is area financial
executive in the Central Congo Area, Democratic Republic of Congo, based in
*Wright is the information officer of the United Methodist Board of Global
News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or