By Dan Curran
August 27, 2020 | ATLANTA

Joining as one in spirit despite being physically separated due to the pandemic, seven Global Mission Fellows on the US-2 track were blessed for ministry during a virtual service of worship on August 26. 

The new class of US-2s, all of whom will serve for two years at locations in the United States, were affirmed as agents of change and partners in God’s mission. These young adults come from seven states and will serve in seven states other than where they currently reside. The GMF international track will not be conducted this year due to COVID-19 travel restrictions and safety concerns.

Starting with the hymn “Be Thou My Vision,” known as a prayer for protection, the online service included greetings from leaders of the agency and affiliate coordinators of the placement sites where the new GMFs will serve. 

General Secretary Thomas Kemper offered a greeting to all on behalf of Global Ministries and explained the value and importance of the GMF program. Under his leadership, the number of young adults engaged in mission service worldwide has grown.

“Despite the challenges presented by a global pandemic, these young people have searched their hearts and answered the call to missionary service,” said Kemper. “We thank God for these young people, these seeds of hope who go forth in the name of Jesus Christ.” 

The Rev. Dr. Judy Chung, executive director of Global Ministries’ Missionary Service unit, led the blessing portion of the service, consisting of prayer and Scripture. She read the dramatic passage from the Gospel of John (chapter 13) in which Jesus washes his disciples’ feet in preparation for the work ahead of them. “We are symbolically washing your feet today,” Chung said to the new missionaries, explaining that actual foot-washing usually takes place when welcoming new missionaries.

The worldwide spread of the novel coronavirus represents a significant but not insurmountable challenge to the preparation and placement of missionaries.

“This Global Mission Fellows class builds on a foundation started in 1951, when the U.S. faced the similar conflicts of racial injustice, overseas wars, urban versus rural issues, poverty and a global health crisis,” said Hannah Hanson, director of Young Adult Mission Service for Global Ministries. “Today, we are inspired by them to not operate out of fear but the wholeness of working towards God’s vision of abundant life for all.”

The Global Mission Fellows on the US-2 track recently completed one week of virtual training (due to COVID-19) in preparation for their assignments. Their sessions included topics such as “Breaking the Bonds of Injustice,” “Mutuality in Mission,” and “Exploring the United Methodist Social Principles.” Participants led devotions, shared call stories and engaged in meaningful and challenging conversations about faith and justice. The virtual service followed their orientation and training.

Those blessed and sent forth into service include (name, home conference, church, and presumptive placement): 

  • Emily Grace Autry, Arkansas Annual Conference, Fort Smith First United Methodist Church assigned to Florida Annual Conference – Fill the Table Initiative
  • Michael William Bennett III, Florida Annual Conference, Coronado Community United Methodist Church of New Smyrna Beach assigned to Michigan Annual Conference – Wesley Foundation of Kalamazoo
  • Natalie Faye Buck, Dakotas Annual Conference, Oakes United Methodist Church assigned to Arch Street United Methodist Church of Philadelphia
  • Katelyn Suzanne Dino, North Georgia Annual Conference, Roswell United Methodist Church assigned to Florida Annual Conference – Justice for Our Neighbors
  • Shiree Alice Fetterly, Michigan Annual Conference, First United Methodist Church of Port Huron assigned to Florida Annual Conference – Seminole Heights United Methodist Church of Tampa
  • Emily Kirsten Palm, Northern Illinois Annual Conference, Christ United Methodist Church of Rockford assigned to Michigan Annual Conference – The NOAH Project
  • Magdeline Rose Russo, Louisiana Annual Conference, First United Methodist Church of Shreveport assigned to Florida Annual Conference – McCabe Memorial United Methodist Church of St. Petersburg 

Dan Curran is a public relations consultant with Global Ministries and UMCOR.