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UMMA Update, March 2014 (pdf version), No. 92
In this issue
- 2014 Dues Now Payable
- About this Issue and UMMA's Publication Efforts
- Lenten Thoughts
- Pensions Committee Meets in Glenview
- Reunions - Korea and Chile
- 2014 UMMA Gathering in Planning
- Immigration on UMC "Front Burner"
- Staff Changes at Global Ministries
- Consider Becoming "Companions in Mission"
- UMW Boad Meets
- Notes from Our Readers and Elsewhere
- Passings Noted
- The Last Word
2014 Dues Now Payable!
Send a check now for 2014 dues! Just go to membership page to link to our PayPal account to pay your dues, where you will also find our treasuerer Dick Vreeland's address (). Individual dues are currently $30, while couples pay $50. Ask about lifeIme and affiliate memberships.
1. About This Issue and UMMA's Publication Efforts
UpDate is normally sent via MailChimp, where you can read it in a web format. A PDF file is available for download for those who prefer it. Print copies are distributed to those who need them. Just ask!
2. Lenten Thoughts
As we move yet again from Ash Wednesday to Palm processions, Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter, we struggle anew with the discrepancy between what we hope for and the reality we see around us. A recent issue of the email blast of the Progressive Christians Uniting, a local ecumenical group in Southern California, cited Leviticus 19:16, "Do not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor." The call was to stop being a "bystander" and to become active to work to prevent gun violence, especially against children in the U.S. context (on average eight children die daily in the U.S. as a result of gun violence as part of a total toll of 32,000 children, women and men lost each year). But it should not take each reader long to identify situations near them where spilled blood, oppression and discrimination cry out for us to be "our brother's - and sister's - keeper."
While Lent may end in Easter, it starts in mortal conflict with temptation to do evil - Jesus' temptation - and passes through tumult and Jesus' death at the hands of people like us or those who just stood by before finally rising to God's declaration in the resurrection that there is reason to hope and to work toward that hope.
May yours be a Holy Lent of reflection which leads to action.
3. Pension Committee Meets in Glenview
GBGM Directors at their October 2013 meeting voted to change the pension program for younger, shorter-tenured and new missionaries to a "Defined Contribution" plan and to raise the service rate for "grandfathered" missionaries from $495 to $525 per service year, but also to review certain aspects of those decisions. Suggestions were received for improving the pension plan.
The GBGM Committee on Investments and Pensions met in Glenview in the rooms of the United Methodist General Board of Pensions and Health Benefits aka "Benefits Board" in mid-February. Present from the missionary community were Gordon Greathouse, Missionary in Residence, as well as Jim Dwyer and Dakin Cook, representing UMMA, its Steering Committee and its Task Force for Benefits, Salaries and Pensions. Directors present in person or via phone were Scott Atnip, Director's liaison to UMMA, Sara White, Rick Whitfield (phone) and John Redmond. Due to the threat of flight cancellations and delays at O'Hare airport and to the east coast, the meeting's agenda was abbreviated and some aspects of Wespath's investment recommendations for GBGM cut short.
Regarding pensions, a case study helped us understand that the new pensions plan as compared to the previous plan was likely to leave newly-retired missionaries very much out-of-pocket, although the presentation asserted that the long-term results, given proper early choices and a favorable market -- many would claim these are unlikely factors --, could be more beneficial than the current plan. The newly enacted plan calls for an approximately 12% contribution from Global Ministries. However, it was calculated that a 20% contribution would be required to equal the initial output provided by the former plan in the specific case-study presented.
UMMA once more presented the argument that it would be in the interests of the missionary community and of a just and equitable salary and pension structure to establish a link between missionary pay and UMC norms for equitable pay. Specifically, we believe that pay rates accorded by officially-determined figures from the salary scale for UM agencies, which is in turn related to the Denominational Annual Compensation (aka DAC) and derived from compensation paid U.M. pastors in the U.S., should also be the reference to which both missionary salaries and pensions relate. Gentle resistance to this idea was expressed, especially by responsible staff persons.
Linking to the DAC would provide an internal church reference (albeit U.S.-centric) and require no annual action from the Board beyond acknowledgment or ratification of the automatic change reflecting DAC development. Current practice requires the Directors to find time to study, recommend, and act upon adjustments in pay or pension benefits, without regard for inflation or other levels of compensation within the UMC, in ways which some could describe as arbitrary.
Yet all church agencies are directed by General Conference to provide equitable salaries, and the General Council on Finance and Administration (GCFA) makes available an annually adjusted salary scale which is related to DAC and which allows persons at all levels in the general agencies to be treated consistently over their years of service. This fact was acknowledged. Global Ministries Treasurer Roland Fernandes has kindly provided copies of the scale for the last five years as a point of reference.
No conclusions were reached or proposals formulated to deal with the outstanding questions at the Finance Committee's meeting, but there will be additional conversation at the Spring Directors' Meeting in April, and at the next virtual committee meeting in August in preparation for the October annual meeting of the Directors.
Although outside the purview of this particular committee, both Roland Fernandes for Financial Services and George Howard and Judy Chung for the Mission and Evangelism unit and Missionary Services unit have indicated that a "substantial" pay increase may soon be forthcoming, which would impact the amount of money contributed to pensions as a percentage of salary. (It is assumed the increased salaries may also be accompanied by a negative CoLA adjustment for some in some locations.)
Gordon Greathouse, Missionary in Residence, has been emphasizing the point that one of the values GBGM established for itself in relationship to missionary service is "incarnate living" and equitable support that would ideally include all paid staff at the Board. In written reflections he points out, "the directors of Global Ministries have adopted 'Guiding Principles for Missionary Service' that state that the Board assumes the responsibility 'to provide financial support for missionaries that is fair and equitable and that supports "incarnate living" appropriate to the cultures, traditions, political arrangements and economic structures in which missionaries live'."
UMMA will be working to bring an appropriate response to any salary proposals made, both those which may be interim for international missionaries in current programs and those which may be relevant for new programs which may be in preparation for various parts of the world.
In a Skype conversation subsequent to the Finance Committee meeting, a dozen members of the UMMA Steering Committee agreed that we should persist in calling for linkage of missionary benefit plans to the DAC and / or the GCFA-provided equitable salary scale. We will be developing a strategy about how best to make known this concern.
Korea Reunion 2014 -- Important information -- Annyeonghaseyo! The 2014 Korea Reunion is fast approaching and we want to be sure you are aware of some important details about the weekend. The Reunion is scheduled for July 25-27 at Lake Junaluska in Western North Carolina. If you have not already made your Reunion reservations, now is the time to do so. To reserve a hotel room call 1.800.222.4930 or email the Conference Center () or you can go directly to the Conference Center website. For complete details on the reunion check out the Korean Reunion website and mail or email your pre-registration form to Korea Reunion 2014, c/o William Underwood, 8204 NW 30th St., Bethany, OK 73008. The email address is .
Early pre-registration for planning the program for children and youth is requested.
Contact persons are Co-Chairs: JP () and Helen Rader (), 859.967.6660 and Edie () and Jack Moon (); Facilities Coordination: Cloyes and Mary Jo Starnes (), 828.456.9017; Registration: Bill and Esther Underwood.
Chile Gathering 2014 Plan to attend our next Chile Gathering at the Mount Hermon Conference Center in Mount Hermon, California (near Santa Cruz), September 5-7, 2014.
Beautiful Mount Hermon is nestled among California's towering redwoods six miles from the Pacific Ocean and Monterrey Bay. Facilities are handicap-accessible and permit young children. Let us know ASAP your intention to participate! And please confirm if you have not already done so (in case we missed it).
Contact Stan and Beryl Moore for up-to-date information: Stan and Beryl Moore (), 794 Plymouth Road, Claremont, CA 91711-4248.
5. 2014 UMMA Gathering in Planning - Input Welcome!
The planning for the next UMMA Gathering has begun. Among other things, we will test these ideas:
- Should the UMMA Gathering again be held at a time and place to allow participants to also attend the annual (fall) or spring meeting of Global Ministries Directors?
- If not, should it be held later in the year, or at the end of 2014 or beginning of 2015?
- Where should it be held? at a school of theology or college or mission site? (Please share any opinions or suggestions.) I hope to have concrete proposals when next I write.
6. Immigration on UMC "Front Burner"
Immigration issues continue to be enormous challenges for United Methodist leaders, whether at the Boards of Church and Society or Global Ministries, United Methodist Women or for Bishops and Annual Conferences - not only in the U.S border states - around the world who seek to minister to massive populations on the move. A recent feature on the GBCS website reported the arrest of 32 persons in front of the White House on President's Day, including UM's Harriet Jane Olson, head of United Methodist Women, Bishops Minerva Carcaño (Los Angeles Area) and Julius Trimble (Iowa Area), co-chairs of the UMC's Interagency Task Force on Immigration and Bill Mefford, GBCS. A month later Bishop Sally Dyck (Chicago Area) was among 40 others, including ten UM pastors as well as U.S. Representative Luis Gutierrez, arrested in a related protest at the local ICE office. (ICE=Immigration and Customs Enforcement.) Melissa Bowe, who works with Justice for Our Neighbors (JFON), a United Methodist program of free and low-cost legal clinics for immigrants, was among those arrested. Despite being a "little bit nervous," she reports, "it felt like a privilege to take a small part in a very growing and important need to put pressure on the administration to halt deportation and to have some accountability for our immigration system."
Harriett Olson asserted that Homeland Security's claim (in a delegation's visit to that office after the 2013 United Methodist Women's Assembly) that deportations were only being used for violent offenders, "is false. ...They are conducting a policy of oppression and fear and that is not a way we think the United States should present itself in the world."
In a statement obtained by The Huffington Post, Bishop Dyck said, "President Obama has the power to end this moral crisis, but so far he has not demonstrated the leadership needed by our communities. I pray that he will find the courage to do so."
As our readers well know, in addition to GBGM's work through JFON and various groups in the U.S., many Global Ministries International Missionaries, as well as our Young Adult and Generation Transformation Missionaries, have worked in countries of Asia, Africa, Europe and Central and South America with displaced, refugee, and immigrant populations routinely facing chicanery as they seek to achieve human dignity and claim human rights. Check the article on the GBCS website and a second in The Huffington Post.
7. Staff Changes at Global Ministries
Now that most mid-level staff positions relating to missionaries have been filled, we are still noticing new names or old names in new positions at the more senior support staff positions. Several new names may appear on emails to you from "logistics coordinators" - a new term which seems to reflect improved communications efforts.
8. Consider Becoming Companions in Mission
Rachael Barnett, well-remembered for her time with the Advance, has been working as consultant to establish a program to be known as "Companions in Mission." The following letter was sent earlier in an UMMA UpDate Extra. Initial response has been encouraging. Four persons responded immediately. Six have responded to date. Rachael hopes to provide "Companions" for all seventeen (17) new missionaries currently preparing for commissioning at annual conferences around the country this summer. She has written the following explication of the effort and elicits your response!
The initial deadline of April 1 has been extended to April 7. For those who learn too late to apply by then, Rachael will receive late applications through April 12.
Hello Good People,
I am writing to you to ask your participation in a pilot program called Companions in Mission (CiM) through the General Board of Global Ministries. As a former young adult missionary and Global Ministries staff person, my hope is for this to become a wonderful avenue for the extended Global Ministries community to support missionaries, and to lift up the privilege and gift of serving in God's mission.
Global Ministries is seeking volunteers who have mission experience to be a resource and accompany current missionaries through prayer, listening and support as they begin service or during times of transition. Companions in Mission should be independent of Global Ministries staff and a neutral presence of support.
The newest class of missionaries will begin their training April 24, 2014. There will also be a group of young adults trained and commissioned in August 2014. We want to offer them the option of connecting with a Companion in Mission who is willing to prayerfully accompany them through their service. The hope is to expand such a volunteer accompaniment program to other missionaries in the future.
Although I left Global Ministries permanent staff in December 2012, I will be working on this project as a consultant through the end of July. Please let me know if you have questions or concerns or would be willing to participate. We are looking for about 40 volunteers.
The deadline to apply for this year's team of CiMs [has been extended to April 7, 2014 - or April 12, at the latest].
You can apply to serve as a Companion in Mission here.
Once you complete this application, you will receive a confirmation email with a link to a reference form. Please ask someone who has worked closely with you to complete the reference form by sending them the link provided in the email.
Please let me know if you have any questions at all. I appreciate you! Many thanks! -- Rachael Barnett (), US-2 Alumni 1999-2001
Many will recognize in Rachael's efforts one of many concerns about diminishing communication also raised by UMMA much earlier.
In a similar way, efforts have again begun to try to form a "Network" of retired and inactive missionaries to further the cause of mission as earlier envisioned by UMMA.
A concept has been developed. But realization of the concept has been delayed for at least another year by an awareness that the efforts at building a usable database system for GBGM's needs have not been fully successful. A new approach is expected in the months ahead.
Meanwhile, watch this space!
10. United Methodist Women Meet
Carol Butler writes, "Dave and I were invited to replace Joyce Hill as UMMA representatives at the spring 2014 meeting of UMWPAG (Program Advisory Group) and Board of Directors. It was mentioned that it took two of us to replace Joyce. So true." -- Carol and David Butler
The UMWPAG ("Program Advisory Group") meeting in Nashville, TN, followed by the board of directors' meeting, March 6-9, was mostly dedicated to putting the finishing touches on the "Assembly" (April 25-27 in Louisville, KY) and "Making it Happen," the Assembly's theme. This Assembly promises to be the best yet. Among other things, 26 new candidate deaconesses were presented (and approved at the following board meeting) for consecration at the Assembly.
Hillary Clinton, a United Methodist, will be among the speakers.
In the large Interactive Experience Hall, there will be many booths built around food but touching on all social issues as well. There will be ecumenical and international participants, a talent show, an all women's band and, of course, representatives from universities, church agencies and organizations and many other attractions.
Much attention was given to social issues and how to keep them in the thinking and planning and acting of the local units, carrying out the UMW push for putting faith, hope and love into action for women, children and youth. The issues given the most attention included human trafficking, domestic violence, immigration and civil rights, climate change and racial injustice especially in its systemic institutionalized forms.
Books were approved for the Reading Program, and we were greatly impressed by the careful and elaborate process that is involved in making these selections. Topics for the mission studies for 2017 and 2018 were also presented and approved. The studies will be: Covenantal Living; The Mission Conferences; Seeking Health and Wholeness; and What about our Money?. The study topics have turned out to be so timely in the past that people were wondering what will happen between now and 2017.
The financial report was a mixed bag. Total giving was down nearly 7% but 27 Conferences and 2 Jurisdictions exceeded their pledges. Income from interest was also down, but there was an increase in the value of investments and total net assets.
The Legacy Fund has been set up as a five-year campaign going toward the 150th anniversary of UMW (and its predecessors) in 5 years.
We were delighted to find ourselves in such a racially, ethnically, nationally, and age diverse group, and felt the Holy Spirit reaching out "her" arms to embrace us.
The atmosphere was one of joy and enthusiasm throughout. Women know how to get business done while having a good time with each other. We felt very welcome. Thanks to Joyce and UMMA for giving us this opportunity.
11. Notes From Our Readers and Elsewhere
Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University has named Dr. Philip Wingeier-Rayo, former Steering Committee member, to be director of its Mexican-American and Hispanic-Latino/a Church Ministries Program. Dr. Wingeier-Rayo will also be nominated to serve as director of the Regional Course of Study School, under the auspices of The United Methodist Church's Board of Higher Education and Ministry. Both appointments will be effective June 1, 2014. Phil, currently professor of Religion at Pfeiffer University in North Carolina, succeeds Rev. Jeannie Treviño-Teddlie, now retired. Dr. Wingeier-Rayo will also have the title "Professor of Christian Mission and Intercultural Studies."
Dean William B. Lawrence remarks, "Dr. Wingeier-Rayo has a wide range of experience in and beyond the United States ... His work both in the academy and in the mission field ideally suits him for leading the ... Program as well as the Regional Course of Study School at Perkins." The Program, founded in 1974, prepares church leaders for effective ministry in Spanish-speaking contexts and cultures, and recruits, prepares, and provides continuing education for people in ministry with Hispanics-Latinos/as. The Regional Course of Study School - offered at Perkins in both English and Spanish tracks - is part of The UMC's official five-year summer program which provides theological education for all licensed local pastors not enrolled in a seminary degree program.
Phil is a 1988 graduate of Earlham College and holds Master's degrees in theology from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, IL, and Seminario Evangélico de Teología in Matanzas, Cuba. He holds a Ph.D. in theology, ethics and culture from Chicago Theological Seminary. A commissioned missionary of the General Board of Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church for 15 years, Dr. Wingeier-Rayo has served in Nicaragua, Cuba, Mexico, and the Rio Grande Valley in southwest Texas.
In addition to numerous articles, Dr. Wingeier-Rayo has published two books: Cuba Methodism: The Untold Story of Survival and Revival (2006) and Where are the Poor? An Ethnographic Study of a Base Christian Community and a Pentecostal Church in Mexico (2011). Philip is an elder in the Western North Carolina Conference UMC. He and spouse Diana Wingeier-Rayo have three children.
12. Passings Noted
Linda Bloom's article captures much of the spirit of Theressa Hoover, who died at age 88 on December 21, 2013 in Fayetteville, Arkansas. (See obituary here.) She writes, "Theressa Hoover was the first and she made sure she was not the last. The first African-American woman to become a top staff executive for The United Methodist Church was a mentor to many young women, promoted the leadership of laywomen and engineered a secure future for the women's organization of the denomination during a period of tumultuous change. Hoover led the Women's Division of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, the corporate body of United Methodist Women, for 22 years, from 1968 to 1990. "She had a presence that could be larger than life, but she also had a presence that could be as soft and gentle as a dove," said Andris Salter, a UMW executive who witnessed how Hoover ministered to women struggling with issues such as physical and sexual abuse. (See article.)
Lois McCullough Dauway, interim Deputy General Secretary of Mission and Evangelism at the time of the unit's creation, died on February 4, 2014, after a long illness following a stroke while attending a World Council of Churches Central Committee meeting in Edinburgh, Scotland. "In her life and ministry," Thomas Kemper said," Lois Dauway exemplified goodness as described by the Prophet Micah: To act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. In both her personal and professional worlds, she had a very strong commitment to fairness and equality, unbounded kindness for those in need, and a strong sense of thankfulness for the presence and love of God." Kelly Martini, former UMW communications director, writes, "Lois taught us ... [w]e were a piece of the struggle. Just resolutions could take generations, she reminded us, and changing unfair institutions could take decades. Staying focused on eradication of racism, poverty and other injustices could mean baby steps to accomplish great things." Martini continues, "Lois demonstrated courage in ‘speaking truth to power.' It meant you were open to attack, whether in your own church or in front of a corporation's board of directors. People didn't always want to hear it but, despite that fact, you were called to do so with God's love."
Former EUB missionary Wallace Brownlee died suddenly of a massive stroke in the night of 19-20 February 2014. He had been active to the last moment, unexpectedly missing his weekly bridge game that evening. At Wally's request his family threw a party of remembrance for him at Pilgrim Place on the Saturday morning following his death. All preparations had been made to celebrate his 90th birthday in March with slide-show and displays at ready. His wife Helen died in December 2012 at which time their life together was celebrated at Claremont UMC.
13. The Last Word (Sojourners Voice of the Day, 3/17/2014)
To the servant of God, every place is the right place and every time is the right time. -- Catherine of Siena
"Linking mission workers worldwide and moving forward"
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