New mission agency chief seeks stronger local-church ties
1/9/2003 News media contact: Linda Bloom · (646) 369-3759 · New York
NOTE: A head-and-shoulders photograph of the Rev. R. Randy Day is available.
YORK (UMNS) - As a United Methodist pastor, the Rev. R. Randy Day has
spent much of his career working at the local church level.
as the new chief executive of the denomination's largest agency, Day
plans to make interaction with congregations a priority. The 55-year-old
pastor, who took office Jan. 1, acknowledges that many church members
already have a good understanding of mission, and he intends for the
United Methodist Board of Global Ministries to "work even closer than it
has with the local churches."
He promises better communications,
continued dialogue with annual (regional) conferences and church
partners, and new ways to reach people in the pews, particularly young
adults and the recently retired, who he believes have many gifts to
offer as volunteers for denominational programs and projects.
Day's not just looking for donations of time. During a Jan. 7
interview, he told United Methodist News Service he would not be shy
about challenging local churches and conferences to increase their
financial support of board programs.
After suffering through
staff layoffs and program cuts in the last two years, the Board of
Global Ministries is faced with a tight 2003 budget. "The reality is we
cannot increase that budget," he explained. "We've got to live within
Despite that limitation, the church's mission work will
continue. And Day, who led the agency's efforts in evangelism and church
growth and community and institutional ministries for the past two
years, said he will take a pastoral approach to his meetings with church
members and partners.
"It's an active listening," he explained.
He is open to hearing "passions and dreams or disappointments" and
discussing how to act on those dreams and concerns.
Day plans to
maintain ties beyond the denomination as well, noting that he was
educated in the ecumenical environments of Silliman University in the
Philippines and Yale Divinity School. Many of the missionaries who
influenced his early life were from other denominations, he said. As a
member of the World Methodist Council's executive committee, he also is
sensitive to maintaining good relations with other Methodist bodies.
his years as a local pastor and district superintendent in the New York
Annual (regional) Conference, Day gained a wider global perspective of
mission through extensive travels and work in such countries as
Mozambique, South Africa and the Philippines. He was actively involved
in the denomination's fight against apartheid in South Africa and the
worldwide movement to ban land mines, and he said racism will continue
to be a personal and institutional concern.
In the coming year,
the needs of Africa - and particularly sub-Saharan Africa - will command
the agency's attention. "We have the continuing devastation of AIDS
there, with a huge number of AIDS orphans," he pointed out.
drought-induced famine also is a concern, just as it was in 1985 when
Day made his first trip to that region. The United Methodist Council of
Bishops issued a churchwide appeal in 2002 to help address the famine in
The Korean peninsula, faced with the issues of
nuclear threats, reunification and severe hunger, will remain a focus
for the Board of Global Ministries. The agency also is teaming with
Korean Methodists for mission work in other parts of Asia, such as
Cambodia and Mongolia.
"We've had a historic role in peace talks in many parts of the world," Day added. "I want to continue that."
said he also is sensitive to countries not receiving much international
attention, such as Haiti, "a place that seems to continue to unravel"
under the pressure of poverty, hunger and illiteracy.
himself, Day is making the needs of children around the world a personal
priority. "I have a hard time going through a day without thinking
about some of the street kids I've seen in Manila and Rio de Janeiro and
Port-au-Prince," he noted. Although he has been impressed by the
programs for children that he has visited in United Methodist-related
institutions, "the problem is there aren't enough institutions, enough
churches, enough programs to get all kids off the streets."
# # #
*Bloom is United Methodist News Service's New York news director.
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