1:30 P.M. ET April 30, 2012 | TAMPA, Fla. (UMNS)
Jaime Vazquez is commissioned as a United Methodist missionary during
an April 29 service at Palma Ceia United Methodist Church in Tampa, Fla.,
site of the 2012 United Methodist General Conference. Vazquez will serve
with the denomination's National Plan for Hispanic/Latino Ministries.
Click on image to enlarge. View more photos.
Voices of the worldwide Methodist family came together in a Florida
church on Sunday, April 29, to bless and celebrate 40 people being sent
into the world as missionaries, deaconesses and home missioners to
witness to God’s love, mercy and justice.
Representatives from Methodist churches in more than two dozen countries
were present for the commissioning of 23 new missionaries and 17
deaconesses and home missioners of The United Methodist Church. The
missionaries were from 11 countries.
“Commissioning,” according to an opening reading, “is a holy act in
which the church, as sign and symbol of the Missionary God, sends forth
people into the world.”
The service took place at Palma Ceia United Methodist Church during the
2012 meeting of the United Methodist General Conference, the law-making
body of the church, which meets every four years to conduct church
business. Palma Ceia is a 66-year-old, 1,500-member church with strong
More than 500 persons attended, overflowing the sanctuary into a
fellowship hall where a video link was set up. The Rev. Kevin M. James
Sr., the church’s pastor and host, said it was “wonderful to have the
global church at Palma Ceia.” People in 22 countries tuned in to the
live stream on the Internet.
Later in the evening of April 29, the newly commissioned mission
personnel were enthusiastically welcomed by the General Conference at
the Tampa Convention Center. Video and projected still photos
underscored what Thomas Kemper, chief executive of the mission agency,
termed “missionaries from everywhere to everywhere.”
Bishop Hope Morgan Ward of Mississippi, vice president of the board, led
the conference delegates and friends in blessing the new missionaries,
deaconesses and home missioners.
Seventeen newly commissioned global missionaries will go to places as
diverse as Senegal, Costa Rica, Argentina, Russia, Northern Ireland and
Tanzania. There are some 220 global missionaries serving through the
denomination’s Board of Global Ministries.
Deaconesses and home missioners, who are men, serve ministries of
justice in the United States. Two people were commissioned as church and
community workers, missionaries in economically marginalized U.S.
communities. Four are new missionaries through the National Plan for
Serve throughout denomination
The missionaries serve through the denomination’s Board of Global
Ministries; deaconesses and home missioners have a special relationship
with the church through the Women’s Division of the agency.
At Palma Ceia, in a service both solemn and joyful, the new mission
personnel confirmed a call to a lifetime of mission, “being led by the
Spirit of God to engage in this work.” They promised to pray, read the
Bible, increase their skills and do their work “in sincerity and love,”
witnessing to the grace of God in Jesus Christ.
Bishop Bruce R. Ough of West Ohio, president of the mission agency, led
the service of commissioning. At the start of the service, Thomas
Kemper and Harriett Jane Olson, head of the Women’s Division, read a
litany that attested to the importance of missionaries and deaconesses
in Scripture and the Methodist tradition.
The litany expressed trust “that these mission servants, being sent
forth in the power of the Holy Spirit and the accompanying grace of God,
will fulfill the sacred tasks entrusted to them.
A prayer by Home Missioner Haniel Garibay of the Virginia Annual
(regional) Conference summarized many of the situations in which those
commissioned will serve, including affliction by hunger, natural
disaster, war, injustices, pollution, and neglect. And, those who hunger
“for the spiritual food of God’s Word and love.”
Here is a full list of those commissioned, their home annual conferences, and their assignments.
*Wright is a longtime reporter and a former communications staff member with the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries.
News media contact: Tim Tanton, (813) 574-4837 in Tampa, Fla., through
May 4; after May 4: (615) 742-5470 in Nashville, Tenn., or firstname.lastname@example.org.