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UM Mission Agency Says Missionaries Must Go Before 100's of Millions Of Donations In Stock Market Reserves


UMMA NEWS RELEASE ON MISSION DOWNSIZING (from Oct. 2002 GBGM Board Meeting):

 “Members of the United Methodist Missionary Association (UMMA), at their annual meeting were shocked to learn that the Mission Personnel Unit of the GBGM has been told to absorb three-quarters of a projected $10 million reduction in GBGM programs next year. Deputy General Secretary Edith Gleaves announced the reductions in her report to the directors of the Mission Personnel Unit at the October meeting of GBGM directors in Stamford. To make this reduction, Gleaves stated that 25 percent of the GBGM's commissioned mission personnel will be terminated when their current term ends in 2003. Gleaves explained that of the 293 mission personnel due for extension of their term of service in the year 2003, 244 will not have their contracts renewed. Of the 293, 144 are standard support missionaries serving in dozens of countries around the world who would have expected to have their services continue as commissioned missionaries of The United Methodist Church. When several directors appeared surprised and raised questions about the drastic cuts, Gleaves and other staff replied they were simply following policy. Yet no one could explain when the policy was made or who made it. UMMA was also shocked to learn that these drastic cutbacks were recommended without consulting the annual conferences which support the mission programs of the church. No effort has been made to alert the church of this severe financial crisis, nor has the GBGM leadership appealed for increased support that would allow the mission programs of the church to continue unabated.”

The following is a quotation from the UMMA report at the General Board of Global Ministries October 2002 Meeting10/19/02 “In 2003, 293 mission personnel will be coming to the end of their current letter of agreement or understanding of their mission term. These 293 mission personnel includes all categories of mission personnel. In this number it is projected that 244 will not be extended including approximately 70 missionaries in the category of 10-10-10. In this number of 293, there are 144 missionaries formerly related to the World Division, now called GBGM missionaries, who are also at the end of their current term.”

David and Lori Persons, together with others of the missionary community, both active and retired, have deep concerns about these Board actions and they sent the following e-mail to be forwarded to their supporting churches: “We are now asking for you to become informed on the local and conference levels and find out who are the Directors. Be in much prayer for all involved. Missionaries we are in contact with across the world feel that they have been dealt a blow to their morale, and it is a question of their calling and life ministry. Our Congolese colleagues are also concerned and do not understand why decisions are being made without their involvement as to missionary personnel with whom they are working in projects that pertain to their church. We have a concern that the ensuing fallout might endanger Advance Special Projects which are initiated by the partner national churches and for the most part receive their funding through the local churches. More money may be needed to be raised for missionary support from local churches but they should not do it a the expense of the commitments to Advance Special Projects.”

The following is from Jeff Hoover, Lubumbashi, Congo (a steering committee member representing Africa) The decision pushed through the Board of Directors meeting to terminate 86% of the commissioned mission personnel coming up to the end of contract in 2003 is beginning to make news in the U.S., and it is important that our association be able to speak for as wide a selection of the various types of persons in mission possible. Please follow the UMMA web-site (www.UMMA-Global.org) for updates.

It is clear that there IS a serious financial crisis in New York, and adjustments are already a year or two overdue. UMMA is not pretending that the problems are not real. It's main points are that 1) there needs to be true discussion with the host churches and the GBGM mission personnel on the field of their views of priorities (not just "informing" of a decision already made in New York) and that a serious effort has to be made to INCREASE the financial resources by appealing to the churches in the U.S. as well as in Europe and elsewhere, rather than simply cutting budgets.

You will see a lot of obfuscation about the numbers of missionaries and the percentages to be cut. There are 344 "traditional missionaries" (I believe that includes not only Americans but nationals and third-country nationals who are commissioned for regular 3-year missionary terms and paid directly by the GBGM). When one includes Missioners of Hope, Korean Missionary Pastors working in the U.S., Church and Community workers in the U.S., mission interns, US-2 (short-term missioners similar to Missioners of Hope but inside the U.S. on two-year terms), and all such "limited-term" personnel who have been commissioned as missionaries, the figures come up to nine hundred and something. Many of these positions will be left empty next year by simply not recruiting new candidates. The other 1200 or so are people who are either not commissioned as missionaries (such as staff employees of the secular relief arm of the United Methodist Committee on Relief--UMCOR-NGO--which works with governments and international agencies more than with churches), people who are not hired by the GBGM (such as rural chaplains in the U.S. or persons in mission paid by their local churches or local institutions with some financial support from GBGM). Don't be confused; the cuts are not a mere 11% of several thousand but drastic cuts among those who are actually out working at the grass roots in the churches. That is why UMMA needs to be able to count you as a member as it discusses with GBGM and other United Methodist agencies to resolve the crisis with the least damage to the overseas and U.S. mission partners possible.

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