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UMMA Update, November 2014 (pdf version), No. 95

In this issue

  1. About this Issue and UMMA's Publication Efforts
  2. 2014 UMMA Gathering - January 2015, Claremont
  3. Further Pension Adjustments Voted
  4. A Season for Thanksgiving and Preparation
  5. New Missionaries Join UMMA Steering Committee
  6. Thanks to Those Whose Terms are Ending
  7. Nominations Needed Now!
  8. News from Headquarters - Soon to be in Atlanta
  9. Passings Noted
  10. The Last Word

2015 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. 2014 UMMA Gathering

The dates of January 8-11, 2015, have been set for the slightly belated 2014 UMMA Gathering, our annual general meeting. We will meet in Claremont, California, a good location in January! The DoubleTree Inn has set aside a block of rooms at the discounted rate of $139 per room, with a special discounted breakfast rate of $10 per person, for those who choose it.

To reserve your room, you will need to contact DoubleTree directly by DECEMBER 20, 2014. The room rate applies either to a room with two double beds (for up to four persons) or a room with one kingsize bed.

The venue is Claremont United Methodist Church, a short walk from the motel (with transportation for those for whom mobility may be an issue.) We will visit the United Methodist Museum of Social Justice in Los Angeles on Friday, perhaps stopping at the Conference Office in Pasadena. A conversation is scheduled with President Kah-Jin Jeffrey Kuan of Claremont School of Theology on Saturday. Further details will be announced.

3. Board Votes Further Pension Adjustments

At their October meeting Global Ministries Directors agreed to several further adjustments to salaries and pensions in response to input from the UMMA Task Force on Pensions and Benefits.

For persons "grandfathered" into the Defined Benefit Plan, the new policy provides for a 2% annual increase in the pension rate per year of service into the future, unless the directors intervene to increase or decrease the increment in a given year. Thus the 2015 rate would move from the previously set $525 to approximately $535.50 per service year, with additional similar increases assumed for future years.

Additionally, those missionaries on the Defined Contribution Plan (beginning with 2014) will receive an extra deposit equal to 5% of average salary beyond the plan's 12% for the year 2014 (only) to compensate for the fact that the new salary scale will not be in effect until 2015.

It was further determined, that the rate of contribution by Global Ministries into individual pension accounts will increase incrementally from 12% for the first 15 years of service, to 13% for years 16-20, 14% for years 21-25, and 15% for years beyond 25, in an effort to encourage and reward long-term missionary service.

4. A Season for Thanksgiving and Preparation

In the northern hemisphere, annual seasons of harvest and thanksgiving lead gently into the season of Advent, when we struggle to retune our minds and hearts to the expectation that God will do a new thing in our muddled human affairs and renew us individually. Behold, the old has passed away!

By the time you receive this the elections in the U.S.A. will also have set the tone for the next two years of U.S. influence in our world, for good or evil. Meanwhile, we are shocked and surprised by the continuing scourge of Ebola in West Africa, the resurgence of violence in the Middle East on many fronts, and by the continuing violence of Boko Haram which creates terror and despair for our Christian brothers and sisters in villages of the Nigerian Church of the Brethren (EYN) among others.

In the first case, we mourn the many stricken by the dreadful disease, including those from among our United Methodist sisters and brothers there, relatives and friends of missionaries, colleagues and church leaders. But we may also give thanks for the role Bishop John K. Yambasu and the United Methodist health network in Africa are playing in their efforts to treat the sick and protect the well from infection, working to establish an interfaith coalition to intervene to educate people on the nature of the disease, and to change cultural patterns which facilitate its spread. Bishop Yambasu's recent witness to the meeting of Global Ministries' Board of Directors made clear how counter-intuitive it is for people to avoid embracing and kissing those whom they wish to comfort -- unfortunately the quickest way to spread this disease.

UMCOR has established an Ebola Emergency Response Plan in the face of the outbreak of the deadly disease in the West African countries of Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia. UMCOR and GBGM are strong partners with ACT Alliance and others in moving to assist those on the ground confronted with desperate realities. In many ways the "No More Malaria" campaign had already begun to create the infrastructure of national health boards in many African countries which others are now trumpeting as their own idea! When many of those other organizations have served during crisis and withdrawn again, the African Central Conferences and UMCOR will still be around to carry on the work with their ecumenical and interfaith partners. General Secretary Thomas Kemper recently took part in a consultation with President Barack Obama about the needed U.S. response. (Give to Advance #982450  for international disaster response to support this work.)

In the second regard as we witness increasing violence and disregard for human life may we join fervently in prayer in the words of that strong German hymn "Nun komm der Heiden Heiland" based on the Latin of St. Ambrose (4th century). Here are vss. 1, 4, and 5 of the Calvin Seerveld translation:

Savior of the nations, come, // Show yourself, the virgin's son. //
Marvel, heaven, wonder, earth, // That our God chose such a birth.

Christ in glory intercede // For your creatures' suffering need. //
Let your resurrecting power // Soon complete the victory hour.

Praise to you, O Lord, we sing. // Praise to Christ, our newborn King! //
With the Father, Spirit, one, // Let your lasting kingdom come.

May we intercede not only in prayer but in action that the nations may see non-violence not only as a viable option, but also as the only fruitful option for dealing with interpersonal and international conflict and protecting human dignity and pride and nurturing a sense of self-worth. And may we join with ICJUP of Los Angeles in proclaiming "Religious communities must stop blessing war and violence!"

Come, Savior of the nations!

5. New Missionaries Join UMMA Steering Committee

We welcome the following newly commissioned missionaries to our Steering Committee.

For the newly commissioned class of 2014 (for two years): George Miller and Wesley and Jerusha Neal.. George is a native of North Carolina and an ordained elder of the New Mexico Annual Conference. George serves as coordinator of international and migrant ministries for the United Methodist Church in Germany. Wes and Jerusha.(sharing a Steering Committee position) are serving on the faculty of Davuilevu Theological College of the Methodist Church of Fiji and Rotuma. Wes is an ordained elder of the California-Pacific Annual Conference and Jerusha, a US-Midwest native, is an ordained clergyperson of the American Baptist Churches in the USA.

For the two classes of Global Mission Fellows for 2014-2016:
US2: Katherine (Katy) Wrona and Gretchen Brown. Katy is a "PK: from Bethel United Methodist Church in Lower Burrell, PA, serving at Open Doors, Inc. in Mobile, AL (Alabama-West Florida Conference). Gretchen, from Concord, NC, where she is a member of the Crossroads United Methodist Church, is serving the Seattle District / Faith Action Network in the Pacific Northwest Conference.

International: Mr. Glory Mulimba and Kendra Twenter. Glory is from Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo,where he is a member of the Jerusalem United Methodist Church; he is currently serving in the Philippines with the organization Peace in Mindanao (INPEACE), based in Davao City. Kendra, from Boonville, Missouri, where she is involved in the Open Bible Praise Center, is working with MPC - the Moscow Protestant Chaplaincy, in the Russian Federation.

We welcome all seven new Steering Committee members and hope to engage them in a Skype consultation in the near future. .

6. Thanks to Those Whose Terms are Ending

The following persons have served as Steering Committee members with terms which expire this year. Some are eligible for reelection by the Gathering in January: Eunice Arias [South America], DarEll Weist [USA], Billie LaBumbard [retired], Mary Escobar [Class of 2014], Adam Shaw [Mission Interns 2011-2014].

7. Nominees Needed Now!

Please volunteer yourself or someone else to serve as an officer or representative of a region or class in the UMMA Steering Committee! We live so widely scattered around the world and so seldom have opportunities to meet that it is important for the willing to volunteer and for each of us to make the nominations we think would serve our cause!

Both Nan McCurdy (Secretary for both the Gathering, the Steering Committee and the Administrative Council) and Dick Vreeland (Treasurer) have suggested they would like relief from their duties. Dick's eight-year term would expire at the next Gathering (for 2015), but he has suggested he could turn over responsibility in Claremont in January if an election has happened.

I would also personally welcome plans to replace me at the 2015 Gathering next fall.

As I review our list of area and class representatives to the Steering Committee, I see the need to fill the following vacancies or to reelect incumbents for an additional term:

ESAP Region (East and South Asia and the Pacific) - Katherine Parker's term expires. (She continues as vice-chair and is eligible to be reelected to ESAP for four more years)
SA Region (South America) -The term of Eunice Arias (retired) expires. She is eligible for reelection to the region or to represent retirees.
USA Region- The term of DarEll Weist (retired) expires. He is eligible for reelection to the region or to represent retirees.
Retirees - The term of Billie LaBumbard (retired) expires. She is eligible for reelection to represent retirees.

Mary Escobar, who served a term now ending representing the new class of 2012, would be eligible for election for the SA Region.

Adam Shaw, who served as representative of his Mission Intern class, is now serving as Mission Interpreter aka Mission Advocate for Generation Transformation and would be eligible for election for the USA Region, as could Rachel DeBos.

As a friend here at Pilgrim Place says, "Put on your pointy caps and help solve this problem!" Please reflect on persons you would like to have representing your concerns, or put yourself forward!

December 20 is the deadline for nominations suggestions prior to our January Gathering, when we will act upon nominations we have. Forward them to

If you are interested in applying, please ask Pat for the application. He can be reached at . As chair I will ask the Administrative Council - Katherine, Dick and Nan - to act with me as a nominations committee to finalize a slate of officers.

8. News From Headquarters - Soon to Be in Atlanta

In an amazing feat of behind-the-scenes negotiations, word began to leak only shortly before the October meeting of the Directors of the General Board of Global Ministries that the long-pending request of General Conference that Global Ministries leave New York would soon be fulfilled! From the time of his arrival in New York as General Secretary, Thomas Kemper has led the staff and directors of the Board through a focussed and long-term evaluation of the Board's role which has increasingly honed in on providing opportunities appropriate to the 21st century for United Methodists and other Christians from around the world to respond to the call of God to be in mission with all of creation and all God's people.

Sending and enabling persons for traditional and innovative missionary service has regained a central position in the life of the Board. Renewed emphasis upon international missionary service by young people through Generation Transformation and the Global Mission Fellows programs also reflect the internationalization of missionaries themselves, of whom nearly half (or more) are persons responding to God's call to service from non-U.S. countries of origin. (UMMA's Steering Committee, too, has profited from young adult and more senior missionaries from various continents.)

Global Ministries staff have committed much time and effort to discerning what is essential and what less so in the plethora of tasks being addressed. New Principles for Missionary Service were a high priority. Likewise, changes have been made in the pension plan for missionaries to increase its sustainability, and a new, internationally oriented plan for missionary compensation and Cost of Living Adjustments for international placements will be instituted in January 2015.

Many of the changes we are experiencing are responsive to the specific concerns which UMMA has brought to discussions with staff and directors since 1996, when first steps were taken to integrate U.S. and global mission emphases and personnel, despite an apparently unclear vision.

The details of the plan to move to Atlanta are available elsewhere, including various UMCOM articles and responses from other parts of the church (see UMMA's Facebook timeline for details). In short form, the plan is to complete the move in 2016 with the expiration of Global Ministries' New York lease at The Interchurch Center, 475 Riverside Drive. In the meantime Grace UMC in Atlanta, which has suffered the fate of many urban churches in loss of members and funding, will offer its extensive physical plant to Global Ministries in exchange for the assumption of its mortgage. The congregation will continue to worship and function in the building without having to service the debt. The intervening two years will be used to make the building ready for the Board and to provide the best possible separation conditions for support and executive staff who will lose their jobs or who will not choose to relocate to Atlanta. With 24 months notice, all should have good opportunity to seek new employment or make alternate plans.

The proximity to the CDC, Emory University, the Carter Center and various medical and theological institutions in Atlanta, including the Interdenominational Theological Center (and UM's Gammon Theological Seminary) will offer rich resources for mission and channels for training and recruitment of personnel to serve in God's mission with all peoples and all people in the 21st century.

The connections to New York and Washington, DC, will be kept vital by the United Methodist Women's national office, which will remain at The Interchurch Center in New York, and the cooperative work of UMW and the General Board of Church and Society at the Church Center for the United Nations as well as at their respective offices in Washington, DC.

9. Passings Noted

Jerry Anderson, former director of the Overseas Mission Studies Center, has shared word of the death of the Rev. William F. ("Bill") Jones, 85, on June 15, 2014. Bill, a native of Sharon, PA, traveled to India as a missionary in 1951 and married Beulah Kessop there. Both earned Master's degrees at Yale Divinity School. In 1998 the Joneses retired to Durham, NC. They served in numerous and varied assignments in North India. Beulah survives him, as do their four children Arun Wayne, Sharon Anjali, Kenneth Lalit, Nalini Lillian Joseph, their spouses and children.

Gene Matthews has shared word of the death of Maude Goff Kwak, 91, on June 25, 2014. Studying at Pfeiffer Junior College, McMurry College and Scarritt College for Christian Workers, Maude Goff became a missionary in Korea prior to the Korean war, then taught English in Kobe, Japan, for three years before returning to Korea, where she met her husband Konyoung J. Kwak, who survives her, in Korea. They were wed in 1966. She returned to Connecticut and worked with the state Departement of Social Services until retirement. The funeral was held at Wesley Memorial UMC in East Hartford, CT, with burial in Rocky Hill, CT.

Nora and Wilson Boots have brought to our attention the death of Martha Kent, 86, on September 14, 2014. Martha, with her husband Rev. Bill Kent, served for a number of years as United Methodist missionaries in Cochabamba, Bolivia, in service with the Evangelical Methodist Church in Bolivia. They later served in the New York office of the Mission Board, and then for many years in pastoral ministry in United Methodist churches in West Texas and New Mexico. Martha and Bill were deeply committed to sharing God's love throughout their lives in mission and ministry and their life long commitment to Latin America mission through the General Board of Global Ministries. Nora and Wilson explicitly honor the Kents' commitment to the GBGM initiative known as the "Encounter with Christ in Latin America and the Caribbean."

10. The Last Word (Sojourners Voice and Verse)

"Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced." -- James Baldwin

"Linking mission workers worldwide and moving forward"

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Last Modified: 17 November 2014
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