Choosing to make a difference in the world through Presbyterian World Mission, congregations and individuals from around the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) continue to respond in unique and creative ways to keep mission co-workers in service around the world.
In April, Presbyterian World Mission announced it was facing a major funding shortfall that could force the recall of as many as 40 mission co-workers. Although there is still much work to be done, the Rev. Hunter Farrell, director of World Mission, says the growing response is proving that Presbyterians—even in a time of polarization across the denomination and across U.S. society— still believe in working together in mission.
Broad Street Presbyterian Church in Columbus, Ohio, began strategizing immediately after the April announcement because the congregation has benefitted from the guidance and support of Presbyterian mission co-workers in Peru, Malawi and Congo. The Global and National Mission Committee of the church felt so strongly about the initiative that it matched donations up to $5,000, dollar for dollar. As of October 7, the congregation had raised $5,376 and the Global and National Mission Committee matched with $5,000, raising $10,376 “new dollars” for World Mission.
When Myers Park Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, N.C., heard about the funding shortfall, its outreach funding team voted to send $100,000 in support for Presbyterian World Mission. “Myers Park cannot be effective in global mission without the mission co-workers and staff of Presbyterian World Mission,” says mission pastor the Rev. Derek Macleod.
The Rev. Randy Webb, the interim executive presbyter of Abington Presbytery has challenged every church in the Presbytery to support a mission co-worker. Many of them already do because Michael and Rachel Weller, mission co-workers in Ethiopia, are from that presbytery, but he is working for 100% participation as he travels around to each of the churches and invites them to support World Mission. As the new executive presbyter, he is driving his RV to each church in his presbytery, spending the night in their parking lot, and worshiping with them.
During the Big Tent Conference in Knoxville, Tenn., he tweeted: “In Acts 1, we are called to be witnesses to Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth. That’s not multiple choice! Every Presbyterian congregation is called to mission in the local context, the national context and ‘to the ends of the earth’—the global context.”
New Castle Presbytery recently approved a gift of $60,000 to PC(USA) World Mission, a portion of funds received as part of settlement agreements with two departing congregations. A retired missionary gave $10,000 from her savings to continue work in the region to which she had given her life.
In October, Grace Presbytery in northeast Texas donated $1.65 million from the settlement of a departing congregation to Presbyterian World Mission to fund in perpetuity one-half of two mission co-worker positions and fully fund 20 Young Adult Volunteer (YAV) scholarships by creating two funds totaling $2.8 million. Other presbyteries and congregations will be challenged to complete the funding for the partially funded mission worker positions.
Jim Davis, a member of Miami Shores Presbyterian Church in Florida, a long-time supporter of Presbyterian World Mission, has given $1 million to support church growth in Egypt. The gift will be split between new church development and pastoral training. Davis also issued a challenge to others to match his gift.
Eastminster Presbytery in Ohio is the home presbytery of the Revs. Scott and Elmarie Parker, mission co-workers in the Middle East. The Presbytery is planning a trip to Lebanon next summer, where the Parkers will introduce them to various ministries underway. The Presbytery has built into the cost of the trip, a tithe of the cost of the trip to support the Parkers.
The Synod of the Rocky Mountains is sending $25,000 of mission funding for mission co-worker support. In western Pennsylvania, Westminster Presbyterian Church is challenging Pittsburgh Presbytery to fully fund a mission co-worker position by committing $10,000-$20,000 a year. Pittsburg Presbytery is asking its congregations to adopt a mission co-worker for four years.
Individual donors throughout the country are making challenge grants to stimulate giving at the presbytery and congregational level.
“We give thanks to God for these amazing gifts,” said Farrell, “and we hope Presbyterians throughout the country will be inspired by these individuals, congregations and Presbyteries to help us continue our legacy of mission throughout the world.”
In the past 178 years, Presbyterian missionaries have planted churches, built hospitals, and started schools on every continent. The seeds sown by those missionaries have, in many places, developed into self-sustaining churches and institutions led by local Christians. Today, more than 94 million Christians around the world now belong to churches that were founded or co-founded by Presbyterian Church (U.S.A) mission workers.
Individuals and congregations interested in supporting Presbyterian World Mission may click on www.presbyterianmission.org/supportwm or send a check to: Presbyterian World Mission, PO Box 643700, Pittsburgh, PA 15264-3700. Checks should be made to Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and noted for fund E132192. For more information, please contact Nicole Gerkins at Nicole.firstname.lastname@example.org or 502-569-5611.