Women for Times Such As These

by Kathy Jacobs

When I was in high school, I attended the Lamon Avenue Methodist Church in the Austin area and then left the church for about 20 years.  When I returned to United Methodism it was at the Church of the Incarnation in Arlington Heights.

It was at that church when we got a new minister in 2006.  I attended his first Charge Conference as the Worship Committee Chair. In the Conference booklet, all the committees and chairs were listed. There was one committee—Committee on Status and Role of Women—where the chair position was blank. I inquired why there was no chair and was told no one would take the position.  I couldn’t believe it!  A committee about women and no one would chair it!

Kathy Jacobs, Lay Leader, Education Chair, and COSROW Chair at North Northfield UMC in Northbrook, IL

Kathy Jacobs, Lay Leader, Education Chair, and COSROW Chair at North Northfield UMC in Northbrook, IL

Everyone said, “You take it.”  I reminded them that I was already the Worship Chair, but by the end of the conference meeting I was the Committee on Status and Role of Women Chair.  I couldn’t stand the idea of the position remaining unfilled. At that moment, I didn’t even know what the committee was about.

All of the twists and turns that my life took and which I survived allowed me the confidence to step into the role of Committee on Status and Role of Women Chair without knowing anything about it.

Local Committees on Status and Role of Women fall under the direction of the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women, which is one of thirteen general agencies in the United Methodist Church. It is, I believe, unique to The United Methodist Church. I’ve done a little research and can’t find any similar organizations in any other denominations.

Looking to the General Commission of the Status and Role of Women for support, I pretty much designed the position in my local congregation as I went. I write a monthly newsletter article called “Women in the Church.” I cover international news, national news and my local church news highlighting achievements of women in the church and pointing out discrimination against women around the world. I also preach at my congregation every March, commemorating Women’s History Month.

In 2006, I attend the 50th anniversary of the granting of full clergy rights for women in The United Methodist Church. I got to see the women bishops march in singing “We Are Marching in the Light of God.”

I met and heard Bishop Sharon Zimmerman Rader preach. She preached about Esther. If you’ve never read the Book of Esther or it’s been a long time, read it tonight. Her story personally changed me.

To summarize: Esther was a young Jewish orphan living in ancient Persia. She was adopted and raised by her older cousin Mordecai. When King Ahasuerus announced his search for a new queen, he hosted a royal beauty pageant and Esther was chosen for the throne. Her cousin Mordecai became a minor official in the Persian government of Susa.

At this same time, the king’s highest official was a wicked man named Haman. He hated the Jews and he especially hated Mordecai, who had refused to bow down to him.

So, Haman devised a scheme to have every Jew in Persia killed.  Mordecai learned of the plan and shared it with Esther and urged her to go to the King. However, any man or woman who approached the king in the inner court without being summoned was to be put to death unless the king spared their lives. At first she objected, but Mordecai said to her:

“Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:13-14, NIV)

Then Esther said, “I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.” (Esther 4:16, NIV)

Here is what her story means for all of us.  When you feel a call from God to get involved in a situation, but then hesitate because it may be too messy or too hard or too unpleasant, remember you may be the woman for just such a time as this.  We are all women for times such as these. Depending on the situation, you may take Esther’s declaration “If I perish, I perish,” literally or figuratively.

Keep in mind that God always has your back. As women of the church you must never be afraid. What we tend to do in the United States is to defer to those who have access to a microphone: athletes, politicians, actors, entertainers, journalists.  They have the right to their opinion, but they don’t have the right to have their opinion regarded as more important than yours. Your life is invaluable because you are a child of God.  Money, power, and fame don’t define you.

God created male and female.  He did not create male and secretary or male and waitress.  Jesus gave you beautiful things to think about and beautiful ways to behave.  He has filled you with love, compassion, and the spirit of forgiveness as you walk your spiritual path.

When you ask yourself, women of the church, “What have I contributed? What am I worth?” look in the mirror and smile and say with certainty, “I am priceless.”

This blog post is edited and condensed from a speech Kathy delivered to the Chicago Northwest District of the UMW on September 26, 2015.

Holiness in High Heels

by The Reverand Kelsey Grissom, Associate Pastor at Asbury UMC

On ordination night at North Alabama Annual Conference, you can find us together. We wear bright red shoes under our black robes and red stoles, and we call ourselves, “Holiness in High Heels.” There are eight of us; we are all ordained women, relatively new to ministry. But we have been in ministry long enough to realize that women pastors face unique challenges and frustrations. We meet together monthly to strengthen our skills as female leaders in ministry. Along the way, we have found support and encouragement for our journey as women in ministry.

North Alabama Annual Conference clergy women come together for covenant group they call Holiness in High Heels.

North Alabama Annual Conference clergy women come together for covenant group they call Holiness in High Heels.

My colleagues and I formed Holiness in High Heels in 2012, when our Annual Conference began offering grants for cohorts of new clergy to study practical aspects of ministry. We planned our group intending to study issues related to female leadership in the church. We believed this would benefit our own ministries by increasing our skill sets, but also benefit our Annual Conference by potentially impacting the retention rates of women ministers. After much discussion about our own ministries, the obstacles we had encountered, and our dreams as pastors, we decided our goal was “to identify key issues for women clergy growing in roles of senior leadership, and learn how to be seen as essential and successful in ministry beyond the stained glass ceiling.”

We designed a course consisting of six “modules” of study. Each module would require advanced reading of several books, group discussion, practice in our own ministry contexts and, finally, a meeting to discuss the results. Our grant from the Annual Conference would cover the cost of our books and consultations with experts in the topics we studied. Since we are appointed to churches in various districts throughout the conference, we agreed to take turns meeting in each district so that we could share the travel expense burden as well as see and experience each other’s ministry contexts.

For our first module we studied voice, presence and audio. Observing that women pastors often receive criticism that they can’t be heard well in worship, or that they need to “find their voice,” we decided to explore what it looks like to preach and lead meetings as women. We read books on body language to hone our visual leadership skills and spent a day learning how sound systems work (and experimenting with several) to learn how to best amplify our voices. Although most pastors do not go into ministry thinking they will become techies, we learned that a little knowledge of proper speaker placement and the church sound system can go a long way. After practicing our new skills and knowledge in our local contexts, we have all seen improvements in our ability to hold the attention of a room—whether a sanctuary or a board room—and be heard clearly.

Another module covered finances. Although several of us felt comfortable in the financial realm, we realized that this is an area in which women pastors (and women in general) are often perceived to be less knowledgeable. We met with mortgage brokers to learn about church debt, a financial planner to learn about our personal finances (and figure out how to read our UMPIP statements) and an experienced church administrator to learn best practices for money collection. Finally, we spent time with a successful executive pastor to glean his knowledge about successful capital campaigns and stewardship drives and what it looks like to think about money from the perspective of holiness.

Processed with Rookie

The remainder of our modules focus on conflict resolution, resiliency in ministry, organizing for leadership and exploring what Servant Leadership looks like for women. All of these modules feature relevant reading material and guidance from experts, but we have realized that the most important component to our time together has been the companionship of other women in ministry and the wisdom and experience we can share with each other. Women pastors often find themselves having to prove their competency again and again, so continuing education and fully-developed skill sets are a necessity. But in order to succeed in ministry we need more than just skills and knowledge; we need each other. I have been honored to be a part of Holiness in High Heels, and it is my hope and prayer that other women clergy will have access the opportunity to form similar groups, not only for their own well-being and success, but for the success of our mission in The United Methodist Church as well.

How Big is God?

By Rev. Renee Dillard

Rev. Renee Dillard

Rev. Renee Dillard, Discipleship Ministries, St. John’s Methodist Church, Memphis, TN

Our youth group hit the road this summer bound for Youth 2015. Our small group of six trekked from Memphis, TN to Orlando, FL where we joined almost 5,000 United Methodists (mostly youth) from across the connection. So many young United Methodists in one place! The preaching was prophetic, the service opportunities were world-changing and the sense of community was strong. But my favorite part of this conference were the workshops! The topics were abundant and varied. I participated in pursuing peace, starting a non-profit, food justice, teen depression, global missions and expansive language.

That last one was especially wonderful because honestly I stumbled into it accidentally. Yet from the first slide of the presentation I knew I was in the right place:

“Expansive language: Congregations Exploring Inclusivity: Strategies for Introducing a Difficult Topic”

I’ll get to the draw of expansive language and inclusivity, but first a brief word about difficult topics.

I’m a fan of conversations that matter, even those grounded in topics that are difficult or make us uncomfortable. It’s not that I enjoy conflict or discomfort or awkwardness. The reason I long for conversations that matter is that I see the fruit they can bear. When we create safe and loving spaces and share openly and honestly our own stories and the stories of those we love, we are able to learn new information or new perspectives as we grow in Christian faith, community and discipleship.

The phrase, “expansive language” was new for me yet it resonated immediately. How we understand and name God is more than an either/or choice of language. Our presenter, Deaconess Amanda Mountain, led us beautifully through an educational and interactive time of pondering why it matters what names or descriptions we use for God, the barriers/fears/objections for using expansive language, and how we might practice using expansive language in our worship and teaching moments.

Especially gratifying was the presence of young people, including many middle school and high school aged boys, who were engaged in the topic and open to thoughtfully considering the impact of our God-language. Many asked insightful questions and offered creative ideas for becoming more expansive in how we talk about and address our God. As I write this, I realize that I just revealed a pre-formed assumption that boys and young men are not typically open to expansive language for God, especially the use of feminine names or pronouns for God. It’s more true to say that our resistance to new ways of understanding and speaking about God are rooted firmly in our own experiences and what we have learned in and from the church. We know what we know. This is true regardless of age or gender. The question is, are we willing to widen our circles of knowledge and experience?

So, how big is God? While I use gender-neutral language for God whenever possible (I serve in a setting where that is not only tolerated but encouraged), I realize that I do not often take the opportunity to use those word choices as teaching moments or entryways into larger and deeper conversations regarding gender equality and justice. I am looking forward to the upcoming release of “God of the Bible”, GCSRW’s five-week study for small groups, and hoping it will provide a good foundation for expanding ever further our congregation’s capacity to expand our understanding of who God is.

Thanks be to God!

To download a free study about expansive language, check out God of the Bible available here on the General Commission of the Status and Role of Women’s website. 

My Ministry as the ‘Different’ and ‘Unique’ Ministry: A Reflection from Rev. AHyun Lee

by AHyun Lee

Last month’s blog explored how pursuing a call as an ordained Korean clergywoman meant to challenge and break dominant cultural and social expectations. Narratives of Korean clergywomen reflect the challenges of ministry, being racial and ethnic minority women, as they feel the push and pull of different identities, communities, cultures and commitments in their relationships. Simply, why do they choose to suffer in their life and in their ministry?

These narratives invite us to consider what their stories mean in their faith journey towards the transformation of community. Here are their narratives.


Being a Samo and a Moksa is like Jew to the Jews, Greek to the Greeks. While I have and use the authority of a pastor, as a pastor’s wife I can visit their home, hold their hands, and talk about their personal stories, closely and easily.  So, it is good to go against the rules. Being a Samo as well as a Moksa means ‘fullness.’

I really like this woman’s saying, “It is good to go against rules.” Her different identities challenge the problematic expectations toward a pastor. Also, being a Moksa Samo makes emphatic interactions with people possible. It is fullness.


To me, the process of ordination is like the way of maturing and transforming myself. When I came to the United States, I was fully dependent on my husband. However, I actually feel as if I have grown up by myself and am detached from my husband. So, the process of ordination is on the way of transforming myself or becoming mature before God.

This woman describes her life journey as the process of transformation and spiritual maturation. While she shares her painful fear of being rejected in her ministerial roles, she also reflects those same struggles became the foundation for her ministry and strengthened her social and relational skills.


I have taken a stance midway within all identities. Through taking and serving in various roles within diverse relationships, I can bring them together and make a connection with each. My role is to form a connection between ministries and lives.

For this woman, being a Moksa Samo allows her to serve within various roles in different relationships, while also embracing different expectations and connecting with various networks. Belonging to different communities becomes her strength to make a difference toward the transformation of community.

These women identified their ministry as a ‘different’ and ‘unique’ ministry. Racial-ethnic minority clergywomen challenge problematic cultures. For them, being a Moksa Samo leads them to be aware of the cultural expectations which influence their daily experiences and relations. Then, they seek agentive ways to negotiate with problematic cultures and create ‘different’ or ‘nontraditional’ narratives in their life and ministry.

I would like to end my blog with the following narrative. I asked a Korean clergywoman how she wants people to remember her. She beautifully illustrates her hope of being a Samo, a Moksa, a mother, and a grandmother.

I hope my grandchild remembers me as a good person

An intelligent person who was absolutely important in their community and a voice for good! It is my hope. In addition, that I became a person who had a heart full of love and gratitude for my children, my grandchildren and people. I would like to contribute to society, help other people, and improve the world while I am generous to my children. Not only do I take care of my children, but I also work to make the world better as a Christian, a Moksa, and a child of God. I will be happy that they remember me like that. If my grandchildren think about me this way, it will be best. I hope my grandchildren remember me as a good person.

With their narratives, Korean women’s agency and calling into the vocation of ministry is possible and liberating to all.  They keep navigating and embracing their different identities. Their narratives reveal structural and cultural oppression and pain, as well as engage the empathical participation with others in challenging the problematic cultures.

These women are co-authors, creating ‘unique’ and different’ transformative narratives. It is a healing process without giving up any identities; it makes room for the transformation of culture with the people and community possible. Their narratives empower a deep sense of relational love toward their life and their ministry. Their narratives are examples of the incarnational practices of embodiment for the transformation of the community.

This blog is my invitation for you to share and empower your own narrative toward deep empathy and visions of integrated multiple selves for the transformation of community as the incarnational practice of embodiment.

Rev. AHyun Lee is an ordained Elder serving the Mayville United Methodist Church in the Wisconsin Conference of The United Methodist Church. She is a graduate of Garrett Evangelical-Theological Seminary (Ph.D.) and Wesley Theological Seminary (M.Div.). Her research focuses on transnational and multicultural pastoral counseling in global and postcolonial contexts. AHyun is the Coordinator of the Asian and Asian American Ministry Center at Garrett-Evangelical. She is also a clinical fellow as the pastoral psychotherapist at the Center for Religion and Psychotherapy of Chicago. She has a strong passion for empowering women’s leadership and sharing women’s narratives for serving psychological and spiritual care for women in the church, conference, community and the world.

Korean Women’s Narratives of Being Pastor and Pastor’s Wife

By AHyun Lee

Last month, I shared my personal story of being a Samo (a pastor’s wife) and Moksa (a pastor) as an invitation to explore the meaning of women’s leadership in Korean immigrant churches. This month, we look at the five common and unique struggles of Korean women’s narratives of being a pastor and a pastor’s wife, based on interviews I conducted for my research.

I.     They dont want to call me the only pastor

All my interviewees shared similar experiences with their titles, being called a Moksa and a Samo. They know it is just a title, and at the same time, recognize that people’s difficulties in granting them that title discloses the reality of sexism. Also, one of my interviewees said some Korean church members always wanted to put the title of Samo along with Moksa like MoksaSamo.

II.     I am so tired

One of the unique experiences of Korean clergywomen is the painful experiences with transitioning to appointments, especially with the people and communities involved. When the private experiences of the interviewees being appointed to cross-cultural and cross-racial ministries became public knowledge for the congregations, the women all faced resistance and rejection from the Korean congregations, which continuously impacted their ministries, becoming an emotional and spiritual burden for them.

Also, they all decided to take on both roles of being a pastor and being a pastor’s wife. After leading an English-language service in their cross-cultural and cross-racial appointments, they then went to their husband’s churches and put on the expected role of a Samo, for the Korean immigrant congregation. They expressed their tiredness and weariness with overwhelming expectations from performing double the ministerial responsibilities in both places.

III.     Am I inappropriate?

Being Moksa Samo means taking on the different stereotypical expectations within different communities. For example, the stereotypical image of an Asian (Korean) woman as sweet and indirect is problematic in a ministerial setting because they are seen as ‘not-assertive,’ ‘vulnerable’ or ‘not-independent.’ Although there are strong cultural expectations for a pastor’s wife in a Korean immigrant church that are hard to ignore, she is easily regarded as ‘not independent enough’ as a person from others in leadership, such as the cabinet members or district superintendent, when she still wants to be a pastor’s wife in a Korean immigrant church. She is seen as ‘not enough’ or ‘inappropriate’ in a cross-cultural and cross-racial appointment.

On the other hand, a Samo is often expected to be a ‘traditional mother figure’ or ‘a tradition keeper’ in the Korean immigrant church. However, a Korean clergywoman is often regarded as being “too” liberal and a westernized feminist against traditional values of Korean-ness. They are again regarded as being “not enough” or “inappropriate” for their husbands or their Korean congregations and Korean churches. Experiencing these contradictory and different narratives, they face their sense of inadequacy and inferiority in their relationships with others and in the daily functions and roles they serve. The narrative of being a Moksa Samo illustrates the difficulties Korean clergywomen face to a fully integrated sense of self. The church needs to be aware of their struggles and provide the support.

IV.     Do I belong, here?

Although they are Korean immigrants, they serve in cross-cultural and cross-racial ministry settings. While they are pastors in cross-cultural and cross-racial appointments, they are also a pastor’s wife in a Korean immigrant church. It is hard to define where they come from or where they belong in daily life. They had unavoidably experienced rejection and the feeling of being a stranger through their ministerial experiences with both communities (Korean churches and cross-cultural and cross-racial churches). Each of the women experienced feeling rejected and blamed for abandoning and breaking from their own community for their own betterment. Finding where they belong between the Korean immigrant church and their cross-cultural and cross-racial appointments causes them to feel a sense of loss both emotionally and relationally.

Unfortunately, there is not a safe space to lament and grieve about this rejection, loss and isolation from the community.

V.     Am I really called by God?

The last unique narrative of being a Moksa Samo is the question, “Am I really called by God?” Korean clergywomen tell of church members asking them, ‘How could God call you as an ordained pastor when you are already called as a pastor’s wife?’ Critical congregations see the woman’s pursuit of ordination as a way of fulfilling her own selfish ambition to make money for her own financial benefit.

In addition, along with the relational conflicts with Korean congregations and the physical and emotional weariness of these women, there were also feelings of deep fear and guilt regarding the failure and abandonment of her husband’s ministry and guilt and shame of not fully being present for her family.

Although racial and ethnic minority clergywomen encounter lots of challenges in their ministerial roles, there is a lack of institutional and structural support for her ministerial functions and little spiritual and emotional support for self-care.

Where and what is the hope in their stories? In the next and final blog in the series, I’d like to invite you to share your hope in learning from their narratives toward the transformation of our community.

Rev. AHyun Lee is an ordained Elder serving the Mayville United Methodist Church in the Wisconsin Conference of The United Methodist Church. She is a graduate of Garrett Evangelical-Theological Seminary (Ph.D.) and Wesley Theological Seminary (M.Div.). Her research focuses on transnational and multicultural pastoral counseling in global and postcolonial contexts. AHyun is the Coordinator of the Asian and Asian American Ministry Center at Garrett-Evangelical. She is also a clinical fellow as the pastoral psychotherapist at the Center for Religion and Psychotherapy of Chicago. She has a strong passion for empowering women’s leadership and sharing women’s narratives for serving psychological and spiritual care for women in the church, conference, community and the world.

Somebody, but Nobody… Nobody, but Somebody

By AHyun Lee

Somebody, but nobody nobody, but somebody

I am a Samo, a pastor’s wife (Korean). Yet, I am also a Moksa, a pastor (in Korean). The ambiguity of having uncertain identities being both a Moksa and Samo seems to make others uncomfortable.

I sometimes encounter people who intentionally avoid calling me “Pastor”. That part of me is not acceptable; it is invisible. It has been my ongoing journey to wrestle with this invisibility and ambiguity in my life. Is it just my personal issue or is it a more extensive issue?

I have often heard clergywomen and pastors’ wives say, “I thought I was somebody, but I was nobody… but, when I thought I was nobody, they expected me to become somebody.”

Narratives of being a Samo in a Korean immigrant church and a Moksa in a cross-cultural and cross-racial appointment stand with all the complexities of race, ethnicity and patriarchy within the United Methodist churches. Their narratives share how they navigate their lives in the midst of multiple modes of oppressions and healings.

Tracing the narratives Korean American women as both being a Moksa (a pastor) and Samo (a pastor’s wife) in my work, it becomes the essential source for rethinking what the meaning of being a woman in the church is and how their ministry connects to the United Methodist churches.

‘Just the pastor’s wife’

My mother is a Samo, a pastor’s wife (in Korean). She is a very gifted leader; she is smart, talented and thoughtful. When she was in her mid-twenties, she wanted to devote her life to God and she married my father who was a pastor. My mother helps my father’s ministry. She is ready to open our home to members of the congregation at any time and serves them lots of food. She wants me, a pastor’s kid, to be a model Christian. She does everything a pastor’s wife can do.

I always think of her as a minister in her own right. However, some in the congregation do not respect or appreciate what she contributes to the church. I was very confused when I heard, “She’s just the pastor’s wife.” Although I see her as a minister, she is not the minister. Although she is a church leader, she is not the leader of the church.

In addition, her life as a Samo is not only in private aspects of the religious institution, but also in public spaces outside church contexts. She is expected to be a Samo to people who are not members of her church. Who my mother is, is always ambiguous.

I am a Samo, a pastor’s wife. One day, I realized I did not feel called to be a Samo. I have had critical reflection about my internal reluctance to be called as a Samo, a pastor’s wife. What does it mean to me to be named as a Samo? I probably have a deep fear of being asked to accept the ambiguity my mother experiences every day.

When do you think you are somebody?

I keep questioning the meaning of my and my mother’s narrative of being a woman, especially a female leader in the church. What is the meaning of their unique stories being a Samo and Moksa in the ministries? What does it really mean to be a woman leader in the church?

Through my work researching the narratives of being a Samo and a Moksa, I learned that my personal narrative is not only related to my own emotional and subjective experiences, but also to the dominant narratives which are constructed by social systems, cultural and religious structures.

Here, I invite you to ask yourself, “When do you think you are somebody? When are you expected to become nobody?” Let’s start to build attentive solidarity together for empathically embracing their struggle, joy, cry, and pains through being present in a sacred space where we don’t even know whether we are somebody or nobody.

Coming up…

In the next blog, I am going to share the unique story they each encounter as a woman of color in their ministry. There are crucial narratives they experience with the different cultures, ethnicity and nationality. Their narratives also disclose psychological conflicts highlighted by colonial tensions and relational struggles with patriarchal and Confucians structures, as well as contradictory expectations in the relationships with others and the wider community.

In the third blog as the end of these series, I will look for our hope of listing to their narratives for those whose points of references of belongingness are multiple and how we as a woman in the church empower their own narratives as unique and meaningful narratives for transforming our community.

Rev. AHyun Lee is an ordained Elder serving the Mayville United Methodist Church in the Wisconsin Conference of The United Methodist Church. She is a graduate of Garrett Evangelical-Theological Seminary (Ph.D.) and Wesley Theological Seminary (M.Div.). Her research focuses on transnational and multicultural pastoral counseling in global and postcolonial contexts. AHyun is the Coordinator of the Asian and Asian American Ministry Center at Garrett-Evangelical. She is also a clinical fellow as the pastoral psychotherapist at the Center for Religion and Psychotherapy of Chicago. She has a strong passion for empowering women’s leadership and sharing women’s narratives for serving psychological and spiritual care for women in the church, conference, community and the world.

Generation Transformation

By Laura Wise

Like many of my peers in the millennial generation, I want to change the world; and I have chosen to live this out through Generation Transformation, the young adult missionary programs of the General Board of Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church.

The Generation Transformation program is one that every young adult in the church should know about, especially young women. The mission field is a place where young women can grow personally and socially through faith and justice. It is a place where young women can explore their calling and vocation. Mission is a place where I and many other young women have been able to hone in on our gifts and talents.

As I quickly approach the end of my three-year commitment to missionary service, I find myself reflecting over all that I’ve learned.

Answering the call

I remember four years ago when I first felt my “call”–a call to something bigger than myself. Believe it or not, giving up my life of fashion and design in Los Angeles to move to the Philippines in mission wasn’t a particularly hard decision for me to make. I seem to have an insatiable appetite for wanting more out of life, so I trusted in God that there was a lesson for me to learn along the journey on which I was soon to embark.

Learning to serve in different environments

Spending 18 months in the Philippines working on peace and human rights taught me more than I could have ever imagined. I spent months at a time in rural communities, some with no electricity or running water. Growing up in a suburb of Dallas did not prepare me for these experiences. I learned to adapt to my surroundings, to different cultures and customs and to unfamiliar language.

The Philippines, eventful as it was, still couldn’t prepare me for my next and current phase of mission: 18 months in the concrete jungle of New York City. Yet again, I had to adapt to mission in a new setting. I’m no longer working with rural communities; rather now I’m working with highly populated urban communities.

I have a dual placement here in New York. I am a writer on the content team at Global Ministries/United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR). I’m also working as the community engagement coordinator for a local emergency food pantry, Hope for our Neighbors in Need (HNN), a ministry of Church of the Village United Methodist Church, New York, N.Y.

At Global Ministries I’ve found true passion in my work. Every day I have the privilege and responsibility of sharing the stories of United Methodist missionaries serving all around the world. At HNN I work directly with the clients that come into our food pantry and community meal every Tuesday and Saturday. Living and working in such a diverse city has taught me how to be in community with others, not ignoring our differences, yet using them to build bridges of tolerance and understanding.

Committing to missions

There are three core values of the Global Mission Fellows program. The program encourages all fellows to engage, connect and grow wherever we serve. I’ve learned that to engage in community is something that I must do at all times, such as getting to know the individuals and establishments in my neighborhood. I connect the church in mission by exposing all those I come in contact with to the young adult missionary programs of the church. I have also grown in personal and social holiness; I’ve taken the Creator out of the box I had placed God into.

I’ve come to realize that after my time as a commissioned missionary has expired, I will still be involved in mission work. Although I’m not yet sure of my plans after the program, I am pursuing opportunities that will allow me to further God’s mission of justice and equality in the world. Being mission-minded is a lifetime commitment that I will continue to live out.

Encouraging others to get involved

If you or someone you know–specifically a young woman–wants to make a difference in the world, keep the Generation Transformation programs in mind. Changing the world takes much energy, so why not engage in a program that is sustained by something greater than us? Step out on faith and allow mission service to change your life.

Check out the Generation Transformation programs here: www.umcmission.org/gt and/or free to contact me directly with any questions you may have: lwise@umcmission.org

Laura WiseLaura Wise is young adult missionary with the General Board of Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church. You can read more about Laura at http://www.umcmission.org/Explore-Our-Work/Missionaries-in-Service/Missionary-Profiles/Wise-Laura