Eesley, Jane Susan

Country: Middle East
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Serving At: Methodist Liaison Office in Jerusalem
Home Country: United States of America

The Rev. Jane Susan Eesley is a missionary with the General Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church. She serves as advocacy coordinator of the Methodist Liaison Office in Jerusalem.

Jane earned Master and Bachelor of Arts degrees in English literature at Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, and a Master of Divinity degree at Garrett-Evangelical Theology Seminary, also in Evanston. She most recently served as senior pastor of Christ United Methodist Church, Rockford, Illinois. Previous appointments were Community UMC, Naperville, and First UMC, DeKalb. She is an elder in the Northern Illinois Annual Conference. 

She served as a mission intern (1990-93), assigned first to the Greek Catholic Society Infant Welfare Center, Jerusalem; then to the Methodist Federation for Social Action, Staten Island, New York.

A lifelong United Methodist, Jane was baptized by her grandfather, a Wisconsin pastor. The family attended weekly worship and Sunday school, and Jane taught Sunday school as a teen. 

“My early experiences of God were of presence and belonging,” she said. “UMYF changed my life. Our youth group exposed us to social justice as we worked with the Appalachia Service Project and learned to ask questions: Why do these families have so little money? What is the history of this community? Where is the church present?” 

These questions motivated Jane’s spiritual growth into her college years when she volunteered in a struggling Chicago neighborhood. Through her campus ministry, she tutored Connie, a woman who had to leave school before she learned to read. 

“I also participated in my first in-depth Bible study,” Jane said, “and fell in love with thoughtful Christianity.” In her late 20s, she became a mission intern in Jerusalem. 

“I loved serving with the Palestinian community,” she said, “and my heart broke as I witnessed the injustices they faced daily under military occupation. My faith frayed seriously as I tried to make sense of the suffering.” Returning to the U.S., Jane’s placement with MFSA provided opportunities to speak across the country, to serve with Mission U as a missionary-in-residence and a teacher, and to witness at the 1992 General Conference.

“My missional experiences,” Jane said, “taught me, wounded me and sent me forth limping. My call to mission is one of listening, learning and making connections. God sends me to be with people and then to share those experiences with others in ways that create deeper understanding, compassion, activism and generosity. Again and again, God calls me to be a bridge person: to enter painful or uncomfortable situations and to see how God is already at work. Together, we celebrate God’s presence, and sometimes, our togetherness is in mourning.”

When Jane entered seminary, she envisioned becoming a professor. “The experience of field education turned me around,” she acknowledged, “and I felt called to ordained ministry. 

“After almost 27 years of serving in local churches, I find myself surprised by a call to return to mission – and even to Jerusalem,” she added. “It will be a privilege to be present with Palestinian Christians, listen to their stories, and share their faith and hope with United Methodists across the world.

“God is good, but always surprising.”