GA-1710 Division of Overseas Ministries/Global Ministries


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Julia Brown Karimu
President, Division of Overseas Ministries
Co-Executive, Global Ministries
1099 North Meridian
Indianapolis, Indiana 46205

“That they all may be one” (John 17:21)


January 1, 2016 marked the twentieth anniversary of Global Ministries, a common witness in mission of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ. Global Ministries represents the visible commitment of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ to live out the unity of the Church of Jesus Christ.  That commitment was formalized at the 1989 General Assembly and General Synod in the adoption of the Resolution on the Ecumenical Partnership, which stated that the two denominations would “not do anything separately that we can do together.”  The vision of Global Ministries “that all of God’s people and creation share in God’s abundant life” speaks to the foundational belief in the quest for unity, peace and justice. Global Ministries has over 290 partner churches located in 90 countries and continues to respond to requests for missionaries, as well as receive missionaries to serve in the various expressions of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ.  Over 112 missionaries served in a variety of categories in 2016. (The area reports provide details related to the ministries of overseas partner churches and church organizations.  The mission personnel report provides specifics related to missionaries.)

Strategic Plan

The Global Ministries Board of Directors affirmed the continuation of the current strategic plan, with minor revisions at the November 2016 Board meeting.  The first strategic direction is nurturing community: to accompany overseas partners, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ regions and conferences, and congregations in witnessing to God’s abundant grace through the proclamation of the Gospel and exchanges of people, gifts, and talents.  The second direction is affirming God’s just and peaceable realm: by living as God’s global mission church, facilitating the mobilization of God’s people as advocates for current issues impacting communities. The third direction is telling the story: to acknowledge mission comes alive through personal stories as a result of hands-on opportunities with local and global partners.  The fourth direction recognizes God’s abundance and growing opportunities for collaboration and generosity by strengthening existing and exploring new funding mechanisms and sources for God’s mission.

Global Ministries introduced the concept of regional initiatives at the 2013 General Assembly.   This provides the church an opportunity to focus on a particular region for a specific time period.  The first initiative focused on the Congo and concluded in early spring of 2015. The Middle East Initiative was launched at the 2015 General Assembly and concluded on December 31, 2016.  This particular initiative offered the church an opportunity to become familiar with the range of denominational partners in the region and the issues they face; to learn about ways that the Disciples and UCC continue to build on a history of engagement; and to become involved in advocacy, as well as support the various programs and witness of partners in the region. The initiative focused on the following countries: Armenia, Egypt, Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Syria and Turkey.  Please see the Middle East Report for further information.  The next initiative will focus on the Caribbean to be launched at the 2017 General Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the General Synod of the United Church of Christ.  This initiative will highlight Colombia, Cuba, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Puerto Rico and Venezuela.

Collaborative Initiatives with other General Ministries

There has been on-going collaboration between the Division of Overseas Ministries/Global Ministries, the Disciples Home Missions, Disciples Women and the Council on Christian Unity, which has resulted in the prioritization of four missional issues. These issues are human trafficking, climate change, interfaith relations and migration/refugees. On September 21, 2016, these four ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) met with the staff of the United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries to discuss the establishment of common goals and work plans to address these issues. This was a historic meeting and the beginning of a new form of collaboration both within the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and also with the UCC Justice and Witness Ministry.  The Global Ministries’ staff is incorporating objectives that ensued from that meeting into their work plans.

Global Ministries collaborated with the Disciples Peace Fellowship Intern Program by supporting two Palestinian young adults to serve as peace interns in 2016. Rachel Shomali and Minerva Halteh engaged youth in summer camps on issues related to peace and justice.

The Division of Overseas Ministries and the Disciples Home Missions share a common finance office.  Lonna Owens serves as treasurer and vice president of finance for both the Division of Overseas Ministries and the Disciples Home Missions.

Leadership Development for Young Adults

Global Ministries has three programs designed for young adults.  The first is the Global Mission Intern Program, designed for young adults between the ages of 21 to 30 who have completed their basic college degree but have little or no professional training.  This year, there were 15 individuals serving as global mission interns.  The second is the College of Mission Intern Program which is designed for seminarians.  This program provides an opportunity for seminarians to work in the Indianapolis Office on a specific project and it culminates in a cross-cultural experience in order for the students to have a direct experience with an overseas partner.  Two College of Mission Interns served in 2016.  John  Culbertson, a member of First Christian Church in Georgetown, Kentucky and a student at Vanderbilt Divinity School worked with the Latin American Office researching partner information in preparation for the regional initiative and assisted the People to People Program with an advocacy manual.  Whitney Murphy, a member of Light of the World Christian Church, Indianapolis, Indiana and a student at Christian Theological Seminary worked on advocacy issues and assisted in the promotion of MissionWorks.  The third program is a supervised ministry placement.  A grant from the Oreon E. Scott Foundation enabled Global Ministries to have a supervised ministry placement.  The goal of the program is to nurture future ministers for effective leadership in the global church.


¡Missionworks! was held August 26-28, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. ¡Missionworks! is designed for regional, conference, and congregational outreach leaders to enhance their understanding of the global church through engagement with international church leaders, missionaries, and home-based staff.  A change in strategy and design was initiated in the planning of ¡Missionworks! 2016.  This event has historically been a national event; however given the growing lack of interest and support of national events, it was decided to make this a regional event, including Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan, and Illinois.  123 individuals participated in ¡Missionworks!, along with 24 regional ministers and moderators whose event was coordinated to overlap with ¡Missionworks!.   The Rev. Rick Spleth, Global Ministries Board member and Regional Minister of the Disciples of Christ in Indiana, coordinated the participation of the regional ministers and moderators.  Seventeen states were represented at ¡Missionworks!; 51 (including Indianapolis Global Ministries homebased staff) participants came from Indiana; 19 (including the Cleveland homebased staff) from Ohio; 9 from Illinois; 7 from Michigan and 4 from Kentucky.  Seventy-seven of the participants were from the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ); 24 from the United Church of Christ; 2 from the Presbyterian Church (USA) and 20 not identified.  The keynote speakers were Bishop Munib Younan of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land and the Rev. Dr. Johnson Mibillah of the Programme for Christian-Muslim Relations in Africa and Global Ministries Board member.  The evaluation of this regional event has been extremely positive and requests have been received for ¡Missionworks! to be offered in other regions across the country.

Personnel Changes

David Owen submitted his resignation as Associate in the Resource Development Office as of June 30, 2016.  David served nine years in this position and twenty years as mission personnel in Lesotho and Kenya.

Bethany Guy began her work as Program Associate in the Resource Development Office on November 1, 2016.  Bethany previously served as a Global Mission Intern in Haiti and Guadeloupe.

Lonna Owens, Finance Executive

The Division of Overseas Ministries (DOM) revenue for 2016 is estimated to be nearly $7 million.  It is too early to know the actual revenue for the year or to be able to share the significant fluctuations in revenue.

Of the total revenue, some is designated giving for special programs, projects, endowment contributions and capital and new church funding.  Approximately 25% is from Wider Church Ministries of the United Church of Christ as part of the funding of our joint work together as Global Ministries.  The balance of the revenue comes from Disciples Mission Fund (DMF), investments of DOM, United Christian Missionary Society (UCMS) endowment distributions, Christian Church Foundation (CCF) permanent fund distributions, operating fund gifts and miscellaneous income.

The DOM Endowment assets are invested with the CCF in the Beasley Growth Fund and the Campbell Multi-Strategy Fund.  Annually DOM takes a draw, which is 5% of the average prior 20-quarter rolling market value of the total investment.  This draw is used to support operations and designated spending based on the restriction of the endowment.  In 2016, this draw was $662 253 (compared to $618,168 in 2015).

An independent audit is performed annually of the financial records and accounting systems of DOM.  A complete audit will be provided for the Yearbook upon completion of the audit and a report to the audit committee of the board.  The audit committee will address any material internal control weaknesses found during the audit and suggest improvements to internal controls in the management letter to the board.

Jane Sullivan-Davis, Executive
Kelsey Cameron, Program Associate
Bethany Guy, Program Associate

Global Ministries Special Giving and Ministry with Donors

In year 2016 the Global Ministries Resource Development Office continued to engage members, all expressions of the United Church of Christ and Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and other individuals and entities with like-minded commitments to God’s global mission, to provide direct and planned gifts for the work of Global Ministries.  The priorities are the following:

  • 1st Priority: Unrestricted Gifts, used where needed most in the work of Global Ministries
  • 2nd Priority: Gifts for Mission Personnel Support, including intensive efforts on four cases in personalized fundraising for missionary support
  • 3rd Priority: Restricted Gifts for donor-specified partner churches/programs or theme-based designations

Strategic Plan Update

The Global Ministries Resource Development Office participated in several of the Global Ministries Strategic Directions during 2016; however, the main focus of the work was on Strategic Direction #4:  Developing Resources — To recognize God’s abundance, and growing opportunities for collaboration and generosity by strengthening existing and exploring new funding mechanisms and sources for God’s mission.  Year-end information on special giving to Global Ministries for 2015 and some highlights of 2016 as of this writing are shared below.

The final total of special giving to Global Ministries for the year 2015 through Global Ministries offices both in Indianapolis and Cleveland was almost $2.6 million in direct gifts and almost $900,000 in planned gifts (bequests, residuals of life-income gifts, and contributions to new and existing permanent funds).  The universe of donors working with Global Ministries in the year 2015 included approximately 1,800 individuals, 620 Disciple and UCC churches and judicatories, and 50 other organizations and churches of other denominations.

Promotions, Appeals and Special Campaigns

During the period of January – August 2016, Global Ministries received almost $1.6 million in direct gifts through its offices in Indianapolis and Cleveland, both unrestricted and restricted.  More than $220,000 arrived during the same time period in planned gifts for the same time period.  The amount received in direct gifts represents an increase over the same period of 2015 of $1.4 million.  The final report on 2016 special giving to Global Ministries will be calculated after the writing of this report and is available upon request.

In 2016, the Global Ministries Spring Appeal letter was signed by the two Co-Executives and mailed on March 28, 2016, to approximately 35,800 households with a connection with Global Ministries.  The 2016 Indianapolis Year-End Appeal, signed by the President of the Division of Overseas Ministries/Global Ministries, was mailed November 14, 2016, to approximately 12,200 households of Disciple constituents, individual constituents from denominations other than UCC, and constituents for whom no denominational affiliation is known.

In early January 2016, the Global Ministries staff team declared financially viable the fourth case of personalized fundraising for new mission personnel  launched in May 2015.  By this date, the resources received for the appointments of Monica and Tom Liddle to serve with the Protestant Church in East Timor had achieved the benchmark of covering the first year of the appointment, and intentions/other funding sources identified to cover approximately 50% for years 2, 3 and 4 of the appointment.  The fundraising goal for these two appointments is a total of $510,000 spread over four years.  As of September 30, 2016, Global Ministries had received over $280,000.  The Liddles began their four-year term of service in East Timor in June 2016.

The remaining three personalized fundraising campaigns continued on track in 2016.  The first trial experience to raise funds for the missionary appointments of Kim and Erik Free to serve in Mozambique received $145,000 as of September 30, 2016, toward the goal of $200,000.  The fundraising goal has been adjusted because term was shortened due to violence in the area of Mozambique where they were working.  The Frees’ itineration and home assignment period will conclude February 28, 2017.

As of September 30, 2016, almost $123,500 was received toward the goal of $150,000 for Anne Gregory to serve with the Church of Christ in Thailand. Anne completed the second year of her three-year term in December 2016.

As of September 30, 2016, more than $300,000 has arrived toward the goal of $360,000 for Paul Turner to serve in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Paul will complete the second year of his four-year term in May 2017. The additional resources given for this appointment, which represent an over-subscription of the original fundraising goal, are being used to cover unanticipated on-site expenses for Paul Turner’s appointment.

Special Giving promotion related to the Middle East Initiative, which concluded December 31, 2016, centered around five special giving themes, with specific countries emphasized during one or two months during the Initiative.  The special giving themes were:  a) Exile and Diaspora; b) Christian Presence and Witness; c) Justice, Peacemaking, and Human Rights; d) Education for the Future; and e) Health, Wholeness, and the Environment.  Support for the YWCA of Palestine was emphasized during the Global Ministries 2016 Alternative Christmas campaign.  Since the launch of the Middle East Initiative in June-July 2015 through September 30, 2016, Global Ministries has received more than $340,000 for these special giving themes and the specific partner churches and programs working in the region, representing a significant increase (more than 100%) as compared to the same period length previous to the Middle East Initiative.

The 2016 Global Ministries Alternative Christmas campaign utilized the Alternative Giving Catalog, published in late 2015, in print and online.  For the second year, the Alternative Christmas materials featured a specific special giving opportunity related to the area emphasis (the YWCA in Palestine as part of the Middle East Initiative) as well as the special giving themes of:  General Gifts, Peace with Justice, People in Mission, Water, Health, Education, Microcredit, Child Sponsorship, and Church Capacity Building.

The Global Ministries Case Statement of Support Walking Together in Hope was published in April 2016.  It is in use by staff and included on Global Ministries’ display tables.  Walking Together in Hope presents a rationale for giving to Global Ministries based on the Global Ministries Vision, Mission Statement, Core Values and Strategic Plan, and includes donor stories of current Global Ministries constituents.

In 2016 Global Ministries Resource Development launched the Community of Mission Advocates made up of individuals who give automated recurring gifts monthly or quarterly to Global Ministries.  Over 300 Mission Advocates are committed to accompanying sisters and brothers in Christ around the world by providing regular support for the work that is most near and dear to them.

Marco Cable, Area Executive


Partners in the Africa region continue to reach milestones in development, reducing poverty, and educating women and girls in spite of challenges and pillaging and exploitation from communities outside of the continent.  In 2016, Global Ministries through the Africa Office accompanied partners in southern Africa in their response to climate change which has caused droughts and poor agricultural yields and increased the costs of fertilizer and seeds.  Many of the challenges impacting partners in Africa often go undocumented in mainline US media, yet Global Ministries has been able to respond and invite others to participate because of the strong partnerships in Africa.


The Community of Disciples of Christ in the Congo (CDCC) continues to place a strong emphasis on evangelism which has resulted in a Disciples’ presence in new regions around the country.  With this expansion, the CDCC is building new churches, schools and clinics to meet the spiritual and physical needs of the congregation.  In addition, the church is increasing their micro-credit project programs for women. This program has assisted local women in starting businesses that generate income to support their families and congregations. The ecumenical organization in the Congo, the Church of Christ in Congo, partnered with the CDCC and other mainline denominations to put pressure on the Democratic Republic of Congo president, Mr. Joseph Kabila, to respect the country’s constitution by holding scheduled elections in November.  Despite the ecumenical communities’ advocacy, the elections were not held as scheduled. The capital, Kinshasa, has been bombarded with protest marches organized primarily by the nation’s youth. Forty-two people have been killed during protest and hundreds injured and arrested. The faith community in partnership with political and community activists brokered a deal that calls for elections to be held by the end of 2017.  The future of democracy in DR Congo is unclear; however, the faith community is committed to working for a country with peace and justice.


After 27 years of civil war, the Evangelical Congregational Church in Angola (IECA) continues to restore hospitals, schools and communities destroyed by the war.  IECA has partnered with the government to make community services available in areas most impacted by the war in response to the poor health care and poverty in these regions.  In addition to building infrastructure, IECA in partnership with the Council of Christian Churches in Angola, responded to the worst outbreak of yellow fever in 30 years with a documented 350 deaths since December 2015.  The country experienced death rates up to 75% of those who were infected.  In addition, 2,915 died from malaria in the country.  IECA and the Council provided medical support to people impacted and hosted educational seminars on how to avoid getting infected. These epidemics are occurring in the midst of the country’s debt rising and currency plummeting as a result of depressed oil prices.


The United Church of Christ in Mozambique, the Mozambique Synod of the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa and Christian Council of Mozambique collaborated in calling for peace and stability in the country.  After 24 years since the end of the Civil War, sporadic violence erupted in the last six months of 2016 as former civil war adversaries, the Mozambique Liberation Front and the Mozambican National Resistance, took up arms with demands for the country’s political future. Partners organized to encourage both parties to continue negotiations.  The church is challenged to maintain peace within its membership as church members have political afflictions on both sides of the conflict.  The United Church of Christ in Mozambique and the Mozambique Synod of the United Congregational Church in South Africa provided housing for their members who fled their homes as a result of violence.  In the midst of violence and brokenness both churches continue their ministries of evangelism, Christian development and Christian education that encourage peaceful resolution to conflicts.  The rise in violence in the region instigated the early return of missionaries, Kim and Erik Free.


The first two quarters of 2016, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mozambique, Zambia and Swaziland were the most impacted by drought.  Malnutrition and food insecurity due to below-average rainfall threatened these communities that depend greatly on the growing seasons. Data from the U.N.’s World Food Program report that 40 million people in rural areas and 9 million in urban centers who live in the drought-affected parts of Zimbabwe, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia, Malawi, and Swaziland will need food assistance in the next year.  The Lesotho Evangelical Church in Southern Africa (LECSA) experienced the driest summer (October, November, and December) in memory with elevated temperatures and severe winds.  This resulted in water shortages in communities where the majority of the population depends on community taps or natural springs to supply their daily water needs.  This drought interrupted classes at the church’s seminary because the seminary relies on piped water from springs on the Makhoarne Plateau to source their buildings and dormitories.  The church continues to work with Global Ministries to provide water to these communities and respond to food shortages that are expected later into 2017.  This humanitarian crisis has the potential of causing starvation in many remote rural communities.  In response to the crisis, Zambian authorities have imposed an export ban on maize meal in an attempt to boost its reserves in light of drought.  Zimbabwe will be impacted the most by this decision because the country needs more than 1.8 million tons of maize to avert the crisis.  The United Church of Zambia (UCZ) has coordinated programs that will provide food and potable water to the most vulnerable communities: elderly persons, children and households headed by women.  They continue to work with Global Ministries to implement projects that encourage women and youth participation in climate change adaptation which include climate-smart agriculture, environmental stewardship and rainwater harvesting.

In Memoriam

Lillian Moir died on November 13, 2015. In 1987, Lillian became a missionary in Swaziland through the Division of Overseas Ministries (today Global Ministries).  During her two year appointment in Swaziland, Lillian was the Director of Communications with the Council of Swaziland Churches.  Lillian then returned to Indianapolis to become a home-based staff member of the Division of Overseas Ministries in the Office of Mission Education and Interpretation for several years until she returned to Africa in 1995, appointed as the Communication Officer for the Council of Churches in Namibia.  In 2002, she transitioned into the position of Registrar at the Kgolagano College in Gaborone, Botswana, until her retirement in 2005.

Mabel Alice Christofersen died June 15, 2015.  She was born to missionaries Arthur Fridtjof and Julia Marie Rau Christofersen, serving with the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM), a predecessor mission body of Global Ministries, at Ifafa Mission, Natal, South Africa.   After graduating high school and college in Illinois, Mabel returned to South Africa and taught Home Economics at Inanda Seminary, a secondary-level boarding school for girls affiliated with the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa (UCCSA).  After teaching at Inanda for approximately 20 years, Mabel taught at another private secondary school for girls.  She then spent a number of years working at the Durban YWCA where she was very active in the recycling program.

Carol Ann Cannon Gilley died on September 19, 2016.  She was a missionary in southern Africa for 38 years.  Appointed in 1963, Carol began her 38 year missionary career at Ifafa Mission Station near Umzinto, South Africa where she was both a student of the Zulu language and a teacher until 1969.  From 1969 through 1974, Carol worked with the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa (UCCSA).   From 1974 through 1977, Carol was assigned to the Zululand Churches Health and Welfare Association (HELWEL) at Kwa Magwaza, in Melmoth, South Africa and from 1978 through 1985, for the Anglican Diocese of Swaziland.  From 1988 to 1997 Carol taught in the Inhambane Region of the UCCSA – Mozambique Synod at Zakewu Likumbe Bible School. Her final assignment in 1998 was at Kuruman Moffat Mission Trust, in Kuruman, South Africa.

Rev. Dr. Bongajalo Goba died on September 21, 2016. An ordained minister of the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa (UCCSA), he resided in the South Africa Synod of the UCCSA. He served a number of UCC churches and taught in seminaries in South Africa and in the United States. Dr. Goba was one of the signatories of the historical ‘Kairos Document’.   Rev. Goba served as vice-chancellor at the Durban University of Technology. From 1989 to 1992, he served as the Regional Secretary for Africa with the United Church Board for World Ministries in New York City and from 2002 to 2005, he served Global Ministries as the Area Executive for Africa.  After his work with Global Ministries in Indianapolis, he returned to his beloved South Africa to teach and work there until his retirement.  He was honored with a Special Provincial Official funeral service on Thursday, October 6, 2016, at the Amanzimtoti Civic Center, Durban, South Africa.


Xiaoling Zhu, Executive


The churches in the Pacific Region are going through an important time of transition. In the last two years almost every member church of the Pacific Conference of Churches has elected a new president or moderator. The transition in ecclesiastical leadership is vital for the people of the Pacific at this moment in time. Issues of political economy and the manipulation of smaller island states by bigger countries like Australia, Indonesia, and New Zealand are becoming more common. An Australian mining company in a joint venture with two Japanese mining companies paid millions of dollars to the Fiji government to mine the interior of the largest island in Fiji. Awaiting the implementation of the new UN Climate Change agreement that calls for reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, smaller island nations (mostly atolls) continue to face the blunt force of climate change, tropical cyclones, heat waves, and prolonged drought. These are just some of the regional problems these new church leaders are walking into.  For the Pacific Conference of Churches, women’s leadership in the church has become an important issue.  With profound biblical meditation and discussion, it was agreed that at the next meeting in 2018, every church should send both a male and female representative.


In 2015, the crosses of more than 1,400 churches were demolished in Zhejiang Province, China because of a violation of sign code. Zhejiang Christian Council, under the leadership of Rev. Yuese Gu (Chairman) issued a statement against this on July 10, 2015.   In January 2016, Rev. Gu was removed from the senior pastor position at China’s largest church with 10,000 members in Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang Province,  and ten days later taken into custody and arrested for “economic crimes.”  In early February 2016, the Area Executive visited the State Administration for Religious Affairs of PRC (SARA) and had a conversation with officers about Gu’s case.  It was said that these issues were limited to Zhejiang .  The Center Government in Beijing, as well as the SARA, had tried to stop these actions in Zhejiang without success.  “What Zhejiang did has pulled the freedom of religion policies backward 30 years.” said the SARA officers.  Prayers continue for Rev. Gu to be fairly treated and for all of the Christians in Zhejiang Province.

A China Christian Council (CCC) delegation led by Rev. Dr. Feng Gao, President, visited the Evangelical Lutheran Church, the United Methodist Church, the Episcopal Church USA, the United Church of Christ, and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) from September 18-24, 2016, to deepen the relationship, exchange information on current ministries, and discuss further cooperation.

The Chinese people experienced serious flooding in many places during the summer of 2016.  One Great Hour Sharing and Week of Compassion provided humanitarian support through Global Ministries.  A Week of Compassion delegation visited some of these projects led by Xiaoling Zhu.  They visited Shanghai, Nanjing, Xi’an, Zhengzhou, Zhoukou and Beijing from Oct. 16-30, 2016.  The group met church leaders, visit programs and projects supported by WoC.

Hong Kong

Interfaith Cooperation Forum (ICF) is a joint program of the Asia Pacific Alliance of YMCAs (APAY) in Hong Kong and the Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) in Chiang Mai, Thailand.  ICF’s main activity since 2006 is the School of Peace (SOP).  All of the 112 members of the network in 17 countries have taken part in this program.  Several human rights programs for the Interfaith Cooperation Forum (ICF) were carried out in August in Siem Reap, Cambodia.  A one-week workshop in September in Vientiane, Laos, focusing on the rights of people with disabilities was requested by ICF’s national forum in the country.  During a field visit to the Cooperative Orthotic and Prosthetic Enterprise (COPE), the participants of the ICF human rights workshop learned about the hundreds of people in Laos who are still killed or disabled each year by unexploded “bombies” that were dispersed by cluster bombs by the United States during the Vietnam War.


Five years after the disaster in northeastern Japan, 177,866 people are still displaced because of the tsunami and nuclear disaster. The population along the coastal areas has decreased by 156,000. Many of those living in temporary housing are the elderly. They have lost their supportive community, and their livelihood. The Emmaus Relief Center in Sendai and Ishinomaki provided relief for tsunami survivors in the initial stage, and still continues to walk with those living in temporary shelters, and with farmers and children who still suffer. During the past five years, 7,711 people have volunteered via the Emmaus Center that continues to work in temporary shelters with the mandate to continue support “until the very last person moves out of temporary housing.”  In addition, Emmaus helps farmers who lost everything to the tsunami.

The Aizu Radioactivity Information Center in Fukushima and the Kyodan Nuclear Disaster Relief Task Force “Izumi” in Sendai are two projects that support those suffering from the ill effects of the nuclear disaster. There are many families concerned for the health of their children. Medical counselling services, free thyroid tests, community building, information gathering, educational opportunities about radiation, fresh-air retreats and advocacy for victims are some of the services provided to the wider community.  Since last year there has been an increased demand for free and trustworthy thyroid testing.   All of these projects have been supported by CGMB from the start. The local leadership intends to continue these projects in order to walk alongside those who are still suffering.

The 5th Global Inter-Religious Conference on Article 9 of the Japanese Peace constitution was held on June 7-9, 2016, at the Minami-Mido temple of the Shinshu Otani-ha, Osaka, Japan.  More than 200 participants from different parts of the world attended.  Participants affirmed that at this time when peace in the world is facing deep crisis, it is our duty as people of faith to speak out.  The conference called on people of faith to analyze the international situation, name the violence and to continue working for peace. The conference urged the Abe administration to look honestly at Japan’s history of invasion, colonization and militarism and make a clear apology to the world.  A sincere expression of remorse from Japan remains a critical dimension for the foundation of peace.


Christians in the Philippines shared their concern over the conduct of the government’s campaign against illegal drugs.  The reality of extra-judicial killings has shaken people’s confidence in the ability of the government to uphold basic human rights and legal processes, hallmarks of their constitution.  More than 2,000 people have been killed extra-judicially this year.  Churches are making their prayers concrete by mobilizing their resources to help out in this task.  The National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) consistently continues to campaign to uphold human rights.

The senseless and inhumane bombing of a night market in Davao City took place on September 2, 2016.  This act that claimed the lives of 15 people and injured 71 was senseless and brutal. The National of Churches of the Philippines called on partner organizations and Christians to lift the families of the fatalities in prayer.


Both the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) passed resolutions supporting the reunification of the Korea Peninsula in the summer of 2015.  Global Ministries has been working hard on implementation since then with the following actions:  participating in PROK Conferences on Peace and Justice;  participating in international ecumenical meetings on Korea Reunification in Germany and Hong Kong; PROK delegations attending DOC regional and UCC conference gatherings; supporting the NCCK Peace Treaty 2016 Campaign by sending two staff to receive training in South Korea and helping them to collect 100,000 signatures to be presented to President Obama;  and supporting a PROK youth group to attend and share at the  National Youth Event, July 26-30, 2016.   All these activities focused on the mission of supporting Korea reunification.

The Ecumenical Forum for Peace, Reunification and Development Cooperation on the Korean Peninsula (EFK) held a meeting in Shenyang, China, June 10-11, and again in Hong Kong, China, Dec. 14-16, including the Korean Christian Federation (KCF) from the North, the National Council of Church in Korea (NCCK) from the South, and representatives of churches from the United States and European counties. Global Ministries was confirmed as a member of the EFK Steering Committee which gave more opportunity to focus on peace and justice mission work in the Korean Peninsula.

The National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK) Peace Treaty Campaign led by Rev. Kim Young Ju, General Secretary, traveled to the United States from July 14-29, 2016, to promote a plan for permanent peace between North and South Korea. Churches and religious leaders from the US joined them in this call for peace.  The delegation visited the national office of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).  On July 18, 2016, Global Ministries, UCC and DOC leaders issued a letter to President Barack Obama opposed to the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) in South Korea.

In Memoriam

Rev. Richard Lewis Lammers, best known as Dick, died at the age of 90 on February 2, 2016 at the Uplands Retirement Village in Pleasant Hill, Tennessee.  In 1948, he accepted a three-year assignment to Sendai, Japan. After he married his colleague Martha Lewis, Dick and Martha returned to Japan in 1954 as missionaries sent by the United Church Board for World Ministries.  They returned to the United States in 1990 and settled in Tennessee where they both became very active in the Pleasant Hill Community Church and the broader community.

Armin Kroehler died on July 31, 2016.  Armin married wife Evelyn on July 29, 1950 and the very next day they were commissioned for Christian service in Japan where they served for over 50 years. Armin taught at the Aizu Christian Rural Life Center in Aizu Takada, Fukushima, Japan. As part of their ministry, they also made 22 mission trips with Japanese delegations to US Churches.  He passed peacefully at home on July 31, 2016.


Angel L. Rivera-Agosto, Area Executive


The work of our partners in the Latin America and Caribbean Region throughout this past year is echoed in the words of a former missionary, Rev. Juan Marcos Rivera, who described devotion to God and to the neighbor:

 “To live now means to go around leaving fragments of one´s life among those who are being crucified daily in the midst of a suffering people.  Living today is also being aware of your presence, Jesus, in every human being, in every circumstance. Each human being is a witness of your grace, and each new day a hope that begins to take shape to the rhythm of your mercy.”

Leaving fragments of one´s life among those who are being crucified daily”, is the testimony of the work of our partners: building solidarity networks across the continent, working on sustainable development in indigenous communities and advocating for the ceasefire and the fulfillment of peace accords.  They are a witness of God´s grace accompanying displaced and uprooted people, affirming indigenous peoples’ right to the land and building new hope by empowering women and children with socioeconomic possibilities in the midst of an unjust neoliberal system.


The Ecumenical Christian Council of Guatemala has been active in the promotion of just peace.  At the beginning of the year they sponsored a consultation in La Milagrosa from January 21-25, 2016. This gathering reaffirmed the process of creating a Continental Christian Network for Peace (CCNP).  As a network, CCNP stands to hear the cries of those who suffer violence across the region and to find and build solidarity promoting actions that restore comfort, hope, peace, justice and dignity of the men and women affected.  The ECCG also sponsored an Intergenerational Ecumenical Dialogue “20×20: 20 Years of Agreement, 20 Years without Peace” with youth representation from El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Colombia, as well as leaders who supported the Guatemalan peace process. The event included forums, dialogue and activities where different generations gathered to share knowledge and commitment in the search for peace with justice in Guatemala.


The Ecumenical Foundation for Integral Development, Capacitation and Education (FEDICE) continued sponsoring sustainable development projects in Cotopaxi, in the northern highlands of Ecuador.  Contributions from Global Ministries, as well as resources from the provincial government and the community have joined forces in the construction, implementation and equipping of children´s centers, medical centers, sustainable development projects for women.  When the community repays the loan, FEDICE opens other possibilities for new communities to join into the solidarity system for their own projects.

Since the earthquake that devastated the Ecuadorian coast, FEDICE has been working with congregations in Sua.  They have helped the community organize including the provision of a refrigerator, 25 small plastic chairs, 50 large plastic chairs, 10 large tables, and 6 small tables that allowed the community to provide food during the crisis.   FEDICE worked on credits for micro-family projects for approximately 30 families providing for the creation of 27 small sustainable ventures that would reactivate the economy of this small village.

U.S. Mexico border

Southwest Good Samaritan Ministries (SWGSM) held their Board of Directors’ Meeting from April 20-23, 2016 in Los Fresnos, Texas.  It was established in 1985 with the specific purpose of providing assistance to refugees (primarily from Central America) seeking asylum in the United States.  SWGSM Executive Director, Rev. Feliberto Pereira reported the continuing work with refugees and migrants from Latin America.  SWGSM helped individuals and families with comfort, temporary shelter, transportation, and other needs, as they get resettled in the U.S. with relatives, friends, and/or churches.

Paraguay and Argentina

On August 13-22, 2016, a delegation travelled to Paraguay and Argentina.  In Paraguay, they were received by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Paraguay, the International School, Friendship Mission and the Churches’ Committee for Emergency Affairs.   In Argentina, they were received by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Argentina, the United Mission Board, the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo and the Argentinian Commission for Work with Refugees (CAREF).    The delegation also met with the indigenous communities in both sides of El Chaco to hear about the struggle for their land rights, sustainable development, health and well-being and the affirmation of their cultural identity.   A key meeting was with Mrs. Estela Carlotto, President of the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo, and a long-term advocate for the grandchildren who disappeared in the midst of the Argentinian dictatorship (1976-1983).


The closing event of the first phase of the Mexican Woman-to-Woman Project 2013-2016 was held in September.   The Mexican Women to Women Project is sponsored by women from the three denominations that are part of the Joint Mission Table: the Confraternidad de Iglesias Cristianas Evangélicas (CICE), the Iglesia Cristiana (Discípulos de Cristo) in Mexico (ICDC) and the Junta General de Iglesias Cristianas Congregacionales de México (JGICCM).

Puerto Rico

Global Ministries supported the advocacy efforts of the Disciples of Christ and other churches in Puerto Rico related to the recent socioeconomic and humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico regarding its public debt.  On December 3rd, 2015, Global Ministries signed a letter calling for a resolution to the crisis that includes debt relief, investments in people, increased budget transparency, increased public participation in economic decision making, and halting austerity.


The Christian Centre for Justice, Peace and Nonviolent Action (JUSTAPAZ) and the Colombia Council of Churches´ Peace and Justice Commission participated in efforts to give continuity to the peace process in Colombia despite the negative results of the referendum held in that country in October that prevented the Government from implementing the Peace Accords.  Organized as the Interchurch Dialogue for Peace (DiPaz), they attended a hearing at the Colombian Congress.  Jenny Neme, director of Justapaz, challenged the senators of Colombia to “show greatness or show smallness.  What has come to your hands is not a simple document with good proposals, regular or bad.  What you have in your hands to study and decide is nothing less than the future of Colombia, a choice to continue seeking peace in the midst of war or to build peace amid the differences. We are tired of violence. We do not want a cheap peace where more pride and arrogance can lead to desperate conditions that make democracy and coexistence in the country unviable.” As a result of this and other efforts, the Congress approved a fast-track process to implement the new Peace Accords as amended.


Barbara de Souza is working on the final stages of her book related to her experiences and work in Brazil as a missionary.  She worked with the Associacao das Educadoras Comunitarias de Saude and the book will tell the stories of women who have worked with her on this exciting project of community health work.  The title of the book is “When Sleeping Women Awake, Mountains Will Move” and it will be edited by Chalice Press.

In Memoriam

Genoveva (“Beba”) Córdova Rodríguez – former DOM missionary serving in Paraguay (1979-1982) and loving wife of Reverend Luis F. Del Pilar, also a former missionary and General Pastor of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Puerto Rico (1993-1996) passed away on January 26th, 2016, after battling with different health conditions.

Flor María Piñeiro – Flor María and her husband, Juan Marcos Rivera, served with the United Christian Missionary Society, appointed to the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Paraguay from 1959 until 1962.  She continued her missionary service with Juan Marcos in Venezuela until 1972, serving with the Evangelical Pentecostal Union of Venezuela.  In both places, Flor specialized in education.  From there, they went on to Puerto Rico where she served as mission personnel from 1972-84.  In Puerto Rico she assisted the Latin America Council of Churches in its early years in document translation, writing, and correspondence.  Flor Maria passed away at the age of 94 on July 11, 2016.

Marshall “Frisco”Gilchrist – Frisco and his wife, Bertha G. Jacobs, lived and worked in Paraguay for 24 years. He founded and served in the Friendship Mission, a project sponsored by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Paraguay.  After years of improving the lives of many, in 1976 he was imprisoned by the dictator, Alfredo Stroessner, and had to return to the United States.   Frisco became Director of International Human Rights for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). He retired in 1986 and was a member of Central Christian Church.  Frisco passed away on August 29, 2016. 

Michael Saenz – From 1954 until 1965, Michael and his wife Nancy served as missionaries of the United Christian Missionary Society (UCMS) in Puerto Rico where he provided training and guidance in stewardship and administration, leading to the construction of churches, schools, and parsonages of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Puerto Rico. He also served on the boards of the Puerto Rico Council of Churches and the Evangelical Seminary of Puerto Rico, and led in the construction of the ecumenical Centro Evangélico which now is the seat of the Puerto Rico Council of Churches.  Michael passed away on November 3, 2016.

Patrick Villier, 53, was the President and General Bishop of the National Spiritual Council of Churches in Haiti (CONASPEH) since its founding in 1986.  Rev. Villier was an all-around leader in Haiti.  He was a local pastor, an engineer and university professor. He taught physics, mathematics and Spanish.  He was also assigned by a Presidential committee to head up a literacy program, through local churches, for many of the poorest and disenfranchised.  As an International Partner on the Global Ministries´ Board (2004-2011), he brought a unique vision and presence.  Patrick passed away on December 15th, 2016.


Peter Makari, Area Executive


At the end of 2015, the Middle East was in the news.  The battle for Aleppo reached a climax with the plight of the people remaining incurring great sympathy.  Days after the safe passage of Syrians from Aleppo was announced, a cease-fire agreement involving Russia, Turkey, and the Syrian regime and several opposition parties to end certain aspects of the war was reached.  In the midst of that, the UN Security Council approved a resolution defining Israeli settlement activity in occupied territories illegal, and Secretary of State John Kerry delivered a seventy-minute speech in which he assessed the then-current state of affairs in Israel/Palestine, offered warnings if trends persisted, and hope for a way to resolve the conflict.  Finally, in Istanbul, 39 people were killed and many others injured by a shooter at a nightclub—an incident for which Islamic State claimed responsibility.  In the midst of all of this, with support from Global Ministries, partners in the Middle East and Europe continue to offer life and hope, a critical presence in the midst of profound challenges that “all of God’s people and creation share in God’s abundant life,” in the words of the Global Ministries vision statement.

Middle East Initiative

Throughout the eighteen months beginning with the 2015 General Assembly and running through the end of 2016, Global Ministries actively promoted the Middle East Initiative to provide Disciples and United Church of Christ churches and members with opportunities to pray for, learn about, and engage the issues and partnerships in the region.  Over the course of the year and a half, 900 groups made use of the children’s curriculum; nearly 3,700 individuals participated in webinars with partners and mission personnel; over 17,000 advocacy messages were sent; and over 3,000 individuals and groups engaged with the 18 Bible studies written by Global Ministries’ partners.  Presented through geographical and thematic lenses,  each of the countries where the church nurtures partnership relationships was highlighted for a set period of time, and the themes of Christian Presence and Witness; Justice, Peacemaking, and Human Rights; Education; Health, Wholeness, and the Environment; and Diaspora and Exile: Refugees and Migrants were lifted up.  In 2016, a major Disciples and UCC leadership delegation visited Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, and Israel/Palestine to engage partners, to be in solidarity with them, and to learn about their vital ministries.  The visit included interfaith dialogue with Muslim leaders in Egypt and Lebanon, and people of the three Abrahamic faiths throughout the trip.  Another highlight of the Initiative in 2016 was the collaboration of Global Ministries and the Disciples Peace Fellowship to invite two young women nominated by the YWCA of Palestine to spend the summer as Missionaries in Residence as part of the DPF’s Summer Internship program.  Rachel Shomali and Minerva Halteh spent June through August in Disciples camps, at MissionWorks, and at the UCC-Disciples National Youth Event, sharing what it is like to grow up under Israeli occupation.  Their presence and witness had a strong impact and they characterized their time among the churches as some of the most meaningful moments in their lives.  One of two keynote speakers at MissionWorks, held in Indianapolis in August, was His Grace Bishop Munib Younan, Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land.  His speech focused on the situation of Christians in Israel/Palestine, and the many ways that they, including the Lutheran Church, are engaged in peacemaking and justice-seeking efforts.  A powerful presence, Bishop Younan’s speech was well-received (available on the Global Ministries website).  Although the Initiative has concluded, all of the stories, webinars, Bible studies, youth curriculum, and other resources remain available on the website (  It is especially significant that the whole church embraced the Initiative including Disciples Home Missions and the Council on Christian Unity.  Ron Degges and Paul Tche were active participants with Global Ministries colleagues throughout the implementation and promotion of the Initiative, demonstrating the unity of the church in purpose and effort.


A major focus in the past year has been on the Syria crisis.  In March 2017, the war will have passed the six-year mark.  It began peacefully, but quickly degenerated into a violent conflict that involved the Syrian regime, multiple Syrian opposition groups, has included several Islamic groups including Islamic State and Jibhat Fath ash-Sham, and expanded regionally and internationally.  It is a complex situation, but the human toll has been more than half a million Syrians killed and more than half the Syrian population displaced from their homes, either internally or as refugees in neighboring countries and beyond.  Global Ministries has worked hard to educate and to encourage advocacy through various means, all of which can be found on the “Syria Crisis and Our Churches’ Response” webpage (  Global Ministries took a lead in organizing, the Global Day for Action and Prayer for Syria, which was held on September 21, 2016, to coincide with the World Day for Peace, and held a follow-up webinar.  In addition, Global Ministries has produced statements, resources, and supported partners working in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Hungary, and Greece to offer humanitarian needs.  Global Ministries, in close collaboration with Week of Compassion, remains committed to responding to those needs and Disciples have been especially generous in responding to these efforts.


In 2016, the Disciples were present at two major events related to the churches’ ecumenical engagement on Israel/Palestine.  The first was a major consultation held at the Carter Center in Atlanta, GA called, “Pursuing Peace and Strengthening Presence: The Atlanta Summit of Churches in the USA and the Holy Land.”  Held from April 19-20, the Summit brought together heads of churches from Jerusalem, representatives of churches from the Holy Land, and church leaders and staff from US churches and church-related organizations.  It was the first such meeting in many years, and perhaps unprecedented.  President Jimmy Carter addressed those gathered and engaged in discussion for a one-hour session, committing to give his energy to this issue, and commenting that this summit is perhaps the most important meeting that the Carter Center would host this year.  The statement from the Summit is available on the Global Ministries website.   A second event was a World Council of Churches and National Council of Churches joint consultation on Israel/Palestine that was held in the Washington, DC area from Sept. 19-21.  This meeting also brought together representatives from Israel/Palestine, including church representatives, ecumenical bodies, and human rights and advocacy organizations, with US church leaders and representatives of church-related councils and agencies.

As we continue to engage the world through prayer, education, solidarity and support, and advocacy, we must continue to seek ways through the church to look for and raise the perspectives of those most often forgotten or lost in the swirl of discourse, those whom our partners work directly with, those whose voices cry out.  The Syriac Orthodox evening prayer concludes this way:

O Lord, Listen to our prayers with mercy and answer them with compassion.
May God accept, and be pleased in our worship and prayers, and be gracious to us.
May it be so. Amen.

In Memoriam

Fay Mary Linder passed away March 4, 2016 at Pilgrim Place in Claremont, California.  She was hired in 1971 by the United Church Board for World Ministries (today Global Ministries) to teach and coach at Uskudar American Academy for Girls, where she taught until her retirement in 1992. Ms. Linder also worked at the Uskudar school at various times as registrar, college counselor, director of activities, boarding supervisor, and vice-principal.  Under Ms. Linder’s leadership the Uskudar school contributed to the start of a Special Olympics program in Turkey.  Ms. Linder also authored a history of Uskudar American Academy for Girls, supported by the Uskudar graduates association.


Deenabandhu Manchala, Area Executive


In January 2016, in the Indian city of Hyderabad, Rohit Vemula, a Ph.D. student in the Central University hanged himself, blaming his birth as a “fatal accident.”  Rohith belonged to the Dalit community which bears the brunt of discrimination and exclusion legitimized by India’s caste system. According to the National Human Rights Commission, a crime is committed against a Dalit every 18 minutes, every day three Dalit women are raped, two are murdered, and two houses burnt. Caste-based discrimination is the most shameful reality practiced in India, and also in Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. Women are the worst victims as they face the triple oppression on account of caste, patriarchy and poverty. Along with Dalits, there are also tribals (Indigenous Peoples), and religious and linguistic minorities who are constantly disempowered and marginalized by these cultures of domination and discrimination. The region is also gripped by the resurgence of rightwing religious forces, often incapacitating the state to protect these vulnerable communities. Social justice, therefore, remains an important missional challenge for the churches in the region.

Human Trafficking and Migration

Nayanti Sarkar, a 17 year old young woman of Betahar in South Dinajpur district of West Bengal, India went missing from her home on April 17, 2013.  Nayanti was lured by her aunt, a distant relative, to go shopping and the next day she found herself sold to a brothel. After a few days of search, staff of the Anti-Human Trafficking project of the Diocese of Durgapur of the Church of North India was able to locate and rescue her with the help of local police. A day later Nayanti identified the man involved who was then arrested and admitted that he had been marrying and supplying young women to the brothels in nearby cities. Nayanti, along with a dozen others like her, continues to receive the support and encouragement of the AHT team to rebuild her life. Trafficking of young girls and boys has become commonplace in many parts of the world; and especially in Southern Asia. Structurally embedded injustice, cultural legitimizations of inequalities and human suffering, the wide disparities between the rich and the poor, the urban and the rural, and the literate and the illiterate on the one hand, and the pathological obsession of many governments for economic growth, make many lives exposed to be abused and discarded as if they were mere things.

For decades, the region has been known for the rapid movement of its people within and across regions in search of livelihood. Most of them are forced to migrate. Extractive industries and injudicious mechanization of agriculture during the past two decades have been driving people out of their traditional homelands to search for employment and livelihood in already overcrowded cities. Hundreds and thousands of families and impoverished children living on pavements, under bridges and trees are a common sight in many Asian cities. These children are constantly exposed to traffickers.  In partnership with the Churches Witnessing with the Migrants, the Area Desk was involved in organizing the Fourth International Consultation in Dhaka, Bangladesh in December 2016. The objectives were to provide a space for the grassroots migrants to articulate their needs, concerns and advocacies, and to identify strategies and practical action for international, regional and national campaigns and to unify on themes and issues for common action and accompaniment. It also facilitated a one day special session on Responses to Human Trafficking. The Asia Pacific Forum will follow up on the recommendations of this event. We hope that this meeting will help us to strategize on collective actions that would make an impact in Asia as well as in North America.


The Student Christian Movement in India, a partner of the Global Ministries, has initiated a forum called “Christian Collective for Justice” with a view to bring together churches and Christian organizations to join the struggles for social justice. The Christian Collective for Justice hopes to expand further to enable the churches to recognize the moral and spiritual imperative of justice as well as to be an instrument that moves initiatives into concrete action.

Global Ministries is now in partnership with AHT Programme in the Diocese of Durgapur of Church of North India for three years (2016-2018). This project operates in the north and south Dinajpur districts of West Bengal that border with Bangladesh and the state of Bihar. It will focus on awareness education, livelihood support, health and hygiene, and use of information technology, besides offering training for other churches and dioceses. Supporting initiatives that prevent Human Trafficking, assisting victims, and advocating for effective deterrence are the major concerns of the Southern Asia desk. In addition to similar partnerships in India and Laos, we are exploring partnerships in Cambodia.

Sri Lanka/East Timor/Indonesia

In the upcountry tea estates in Sri Lanka, and in the remote parts of East Timor too, the Church of the American Ceylon Mission (CACM) and the Protestant Church in East Timor (IPTL) are involved in protecting and also providing opportunities for children who are exposed to child labor, traffickers or early marriages. In Sumba, in Indonesia, the Protestant Church of Sumba (GKS) with the Week of Compassion funds, is renewing its efforts on sustainable agriculture with a view to help small farmers to find livelihood without having to migrate or send their children away to other islands in search of livelihood.

The leaders of the Church of the American Ceylon Mission (CACM) in Sri Lanka were able to heal their divisions and elect a new panel of officers at their Bi-annual convention in June 2016. The new leadership has been very active not only in streamlining their administration but also in planning to develop their ministries and mission activities. They organized a grand celebration of the 200th anniversary of the American Ceylon Mission in Jaffna in October 2016.

The Protestant Church in East Timor (IPTL), a partner church of the GM, continues to be vulnerable on account of a number of reasons, the most important of which is that it is the only protestant church in a predominantly catholic country. IPTL is a small and frail church with challenging ministries.  The presence of Tom and Monica Liddle, mission personnel, should help in activating and strengthening their ministries and training pastors.


Efforts to train the leadership and staff of the Dongsavath Child and Youth Development Centre, Vientiane, Laos in organizational management, program development and financial accountability continue. Through this intervention, the staff team of Dongsavath are learning new skills and developing new plans to expand, grow and become effective in addressing issues of child protection in Laos and the Mekong region.


Catherine Nichols, Executive
Lorna Hernandez, Coordinator, People-to-People Program

Mission Personnel

As a movement for wholeness in a fragmented world, the Division of Overseas Ministries/Global Ministries participates in a ministry which attempts to break the divide among God’s people by partnering with churches and church-related organizations in the sending and receiving of missionaries.  The exchange of people and their gifts unites people across geographical, racial, gender, and economic barriers.  Other important aspects of this ministry include the presence of missionaries in congregations, allowing congregations to share the vital ministries of the partner churches and our people to people pilgrimages, which offer individuals and congregations opportunities to cross boundaries and share the love of God as they receive the love of God from those they encounter.

Through the Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ, missionaries are participating in ministries of critical presence around the world.  They are engaged in a variety of ministries including theological education, leadership development, community and development work, human rights, health ministries, children’s ministries, and pastoral ministries.

A total of 112 missionaries served in 44 countries in 2016, which included 34 fully-supported missionaries, 15 global mission interns, 23 long-term volunteers, and 40 associates.  In addition, 21 individuals served as short-term volunteers.

Nineteen persons were appointed to church and/or church-related institutions around the world, including 5 re-appointees.  Terms varied from fully-supported to long-term volunteer staff.   This distribution by area of total appointments was Africa 4; East Asia and the Pacific 1; Europe 0; Latin America and the Caribbean 5; Middle East 4; Southern Asia 5.

Six new fully-supported missionaries were appointed in 2016:  Maria and Laurence (Nishan) Bakalian, Lebanon; Bosela Eale, Kenya; and, Ricardo Mayol, Guatemala. Two of these fully supported missionaries were appointed through the personalized funding model:  Monica and Tom Liddle, East Timor.

Five new global mission interns were supported by Week of Compassion funds.  They are:  Cara McKinney, Ecuador; William O’Brien, Egypt; Stewart Barker, Swaziland; Toni Reynolds, Dominican Republic; and, Nia Sullivan, South Africa.  Three new long-term volunteers (one year and longer) were appointed in 2016:  Leah Dewey, Thailand; Bethany Waggoner, Lebanon; and Brigitte Eale, Kenya.

There were 21 short-term volunteers (two weeks to eleven months) appointed in 2016 who served in or will serve in 2017.  A list of names and term dates are available upon request.

The overseas associate category is a recognition normally given to members of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ who are serving outside of the United States and Canada with a church, ecumenical institution or project that involves a ministry that is in accordance with the mission principles of the Common Global Ministries Board. There was one new associate appointment in 2016:  Ann Rogers-Brigham, Thailand.

Three individuals completed their service with the Common Global Ministries Board in the category of regular appointees:  Gloria Vicente, Guatemala; and Timothy and Diane Fonderlin, Haiti retired after nineteen years of service.

Eight Global Mission Interns completed their service in 2016:  Nathaniel (Nate) Bailey, Palestine; Henry Brewer-Calvert, Dominican Republic; Bethany Guy, Guadeloupe and Martinique; Lauren Kabat, Chile; Tyler Reeve, Morocco; Sarah Williams, India; Ariel Royer, Lebanon; and Bethany Waggoner, Chile.

Five individuals completed their service as Long-term Volunteers in 2016:  Glenn Herbert, Ecuador; Benjamin Lyvers, India; Santos Par-Vasquez, Guatemala; Sharla Russell, Congo; and Andrew Shearer-Cooper, Lesotho.

Missionary Relationships

From January 1 – December 31, 2016, ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­21 missionaries were involved in a ministry of critical presence through missionary visits and relationship building:   Ariel Royer, Lebanon, (3 months), Lauren Kabat, Chile (3 months), Nate Bailey, Palestine (1 month), Gloria Vicente, Guatemala (1 month), Santos Par Vasquez, Guatemala (1 month), Elena Huegel, Chile, (4 months), Anne Gregory, Thailand, (4 days), Bethany Waggoner, Ecuador, (2 months), Tim Fonderlin, Haiti, (3 months), Diane Fonderlin, Haiti, (3 months), Bethany Guy, Guadeloupe & Martinique, (1 month), Jim Wilson, South Africa, (3 months), Jayanthi Wilson, South Africa, (3 months), Henry Brewer-Calvert, Dominican Republic (2 months), Anil Henry, India, (2 months), and Teresa Henry, India, (2 months) and Kristin Wolf, Thailand (2 days). Additional interpretation was done by long-term volunteers Linda James, Congo, (4 days); Nancy Lott-Henry (2 days); Andrew Shearer Cooper (2 months); and Jeff Wright (6 days).  Throughout the year we had 28 current and former missionaries participate in twenty annual meetings and eight regional assemblies.

Global Ministries hosted four Missionaries in Residence. Nehemias Ayala, Honduras (3 months). Marta Bernadini, Italy (4 months). Two as a part of the Middle East Initiative: Rachel Shomali and Minerva Halteh, both from Palestine. In collaboration with Disciples Peace Fellowship, Rachel and Minerva each attended 7 different camps. They also attended a Mid-Summer Retreat in Indianapolis, NYE, one month of itineration and MissionWorks.

Three Global Mission Interns attended the National Youth Experience in Orlando, FL July 26 – 30, 2016: Tyler Reeve (Morocco), Bethany Waggoner (Ecuador), and Beth Guy (Guadeloupe & Martinique). Rachel Shomali and Minerva Halteh, Missionaries in Residence (Palestine) also attended.

Five missionaries participated in the Mid-West Mission Event in MO: Judy Chan (Hong Kong), Tyler Reeve (Morocco), Beth Guy (Guadeloupe & Martinique), Tim Fonderlin (Haiti), and Diane Fonderlin (Haiti). Rachel Shomali and Minerva Halteh, Missionaries in Residence (Palestine) also participated.

Nine missionaries participated in the 2016 MissionWorks! event in Indianapolis. They were Judy Chan (Hong Kong), Tyler Reeve (Morocco), Tim Fonderlin (Haiti), Diane Fonderlin (Haiti), Elena Huegel (Chile), Jim Wilson (South Africa), Jayanthi Wilson (South Africa), Paul Turner (Congo), and Beth Guy (Guadeloupe & Martinique). Rachel Shomali and Minerva Halteh, Missionaries in Residence (Palestine) also attended.

From January 1 – December 31, 2016, 34 UCC Conferences and 24 Disciples Regions received visits.  (Three point sixty three Conferences/Regions were visited per missionary unit.)  Of those visits, 122 were to UCC Congregations and 133 were to Disciples Congregations.  (Sixteen congregations were visited per missionary unit.)  There were a total of 497 missionary presentations made.  (31 presentations were given per missionary unit with an average of 15 presentations per month of interpretation.)

People-to-People Pilgrimages

The People-to-People Pilgrimage Program assists Disciples of Christ and United Church of Christ congregations, regions and conferences with mission pilgrimages to meet and walk in solidarity with our international partners, share their joys, understand their challenges, and experience their unique connection to our wider church. In 2016, the People-to-People office assisted with inquiries, provided educational materials and supported delegations, resulting in 63 mission pilgrimages. The numbers of pilgrimages per area were: 5 to Africa, 6 to the Middle East and Europe, 7 to Southern Asia, 1 to East Asia and the Pacific, and 44 to Latin America and the Caribbean. In addition, in 2016 this office has created a new People-to-People advocacy resource, “Now You are Home: What Next?” intended to guide delegations as to how to remain engaged after their pilgrimage. This resource can be ordered through the Global Ministries website.


Derek Duncan, Program Associate

“Building Bridges” across Denominational Advocacy Work

At the April 2016 Extended Staff Meeting it was decided that Global Ministries would identify four global issues as priorities for its collective advocacy work: Human Trafficking, Refugees and Migration, Climate Change, and Interfaith Relations. To prepare for developing strategic work on these issues, Global Ministries invited to its September 2016 Extended Staff Meeting select colleagues from other ministries in the Disciples and UCC to seek common goals and identify opportunities for collaboration. Called Building Bridges, the consultation was an opportunity to learn more about our respective program work on global issues, to better understand and define the scope and contours of our work on those global issues, and to explore together how to communicate and collaborate better in our work generally, and on the four priority issues specifically.

The Global Advocacy and Education program provides leadership in implementing the Global Ministries strategic direction “Working for Peace with Justice.”  The advocacy program also coordinates with the area offices in relation to regional justice issues that are of concern to our global partners and the communities they serve, and responses are guided by the actions and position of our partners. Opportunities to take action in response to regional or global advocacy concerns include awareness-raising in Global Ministries updates, on the website, and using social media; through supporting letters, statements and solidarity actions by denominational leaders; engaging Disciples members in ecumenical advocacy campaigns and initiatives; and by resourcing board and General Assembly actions.

Ecumenical Advocacy Days for Global Peace with Justice

The 2016 Ecumenical Advocacy Days conference, held April 15-18, was titled “Lift Every Voice! – Racism, Class & Power.” The 2017 Ecumenical Advocacy Days, entitled “Confronting Chaos, Forging Community: Challenging Racism, Materialism and Militarism,” will be held April 21-24, 2017 and will mark the 50th Anniversary of Rev. Martin Luther King’s “Beloved Community” address.


In coordination with the Africa Office and in support of Congolese partners, the advocacy associate maintained a focus in 2016 on the urgency to hold free and fair presidential elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. President Joseph Kabila’s efforts to delay and then cancel elections scheduled for November 2016 incited demonstrations and incidents of violence throughout the year. Congo Week in 2016 was focused on the U.S. administration maintaining engagement with the DRC and regional players to support the DRC Constitution and democratic process, alongside guaranteeing civil and human rights. At the end of this year there were hopeful signs that an agreement had been reached for President Kabila to leave office and recognize the results of elections now scheduled for late this year.

East Asia and the Pacific

Working with the East Asia and the Pacific Office, the advocacy focus was the implementation of the 2015 Disciples resolution “A Call for Peace, Justice and Reunification in the Korean Peninsula.” In 2016 attention focused on preparing background and advocacy materials focusing on peace and reunification in the peninsula, and supporting a delegation of our Korean partners who toured the US to gather signatures for the Campaign to sign a Korean Peace Treaty in July 2016, on the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice in 1953. Peace and human rights in the Philippines is also priority for Global Ministries’ advocacy. As co-chair of the Philippines Working Group of the Asia-Pacific Forum, the associate hosted a delegation of Lumad survivors of violence in Mindanao for Ecumenical Advocacy Days in April 2016.

Latin American and the Caribbean

There were notable achievements in long-time advocacy efforts in three areas in Latin America and the Caribbean. First, throughout 2016 partners in Puerto Rico engaged Global Ministries in advocacy with the U.S. government to strengthen the U.S. territory’s legal rights to restructure tremendous debt that restricted government and social services and placed the public welfare at risk which resulted in the U.S. Congress in September passing legislation providing for a mechanism for debt relief for Puerto Rico. While the plan includes an undesirable Control Board that undermines Puerto Rico’s self-governance, it nonetheless provides some means to support the island’s economy. In Colombia, the churches played a key role in engaging in a peace process to end the fighting between the U.S.-backed Colombian forces and various popular resistance groups. A historic agreement was signed on September 26, and while not initially ratified by the Colombian people in October 2, the treaty provides the framework for a sustainable peace likely to be approved in the near future. Finally, through years of cold war-era isolation by the U.S., Global Ministries supported efforts to end U.S. sanctions against Cuba and promote rapprochement between the two countries. While increasing religious exchanges with Cuba, Global Ministries will continue to advocate for the U.S. Congress to fully lift the embargo on Cuba.

Middle East and Europe

In Middle East and Europe the advocacy focus was on peace, human rights and demilitarization throughout the region. As the Global Ministries Middle East Initiative entered its second and final year in 2016, advocacy focused on political and material support for Syrian refugees, recognition of the Armenian Genocide, and promotion of the Kairos campaign and facilitation of denominational relations with the Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine and Israel. Global Ministries was part of a core group that planned resources and activities to mark an event called the Global Day of Action and Prayer for Syria which focused on promoting peacemaking alternatives to end the war in Syria and encouraging greater U.S. support for Syrian Refugees. An interfaith Prayer Service was held in New York City on September 21, which is the International Day of Peace. The materials were hosted on the Global Ministries website and included five study resources: Shifting to a Just Peace Approach, Nonviolent Resistance in Syria, Unarmed Civilian Protection in Syria, Syria’s Acute and Intergenerational Trauma, and Islamophobia, the United States.

Southern Asia

A focus of advocacy in Southern Asia concerns social, economic or political rights of marginalized groups in the region, including the Dalits or so-called ‘untouchables, indigenous and tribal groups, religious and ethnic minorities, and migrants. For the April 2016 Advocacy Days conference, Global Ministries hosted a workshop. From December 4-14, 2016 Global Ministries staff participated in a conference on Migration and Human Trafficking and made partner visits in Bangladesh and India.

Tom Morse, Executive, Division of Overseas Ministries
Marcy Dory, Executive, Wider Church Ministries

Middle East Initiative

The Middle East Initiative concluded in December 2016. The office of Mission Engagement carefully tracked participation throughout the initiative revealing broad use of the materials throughout the life of the church. The Children’s Advent and Vacation Bible School curricula were downloaded by over 1,000 individuals; the 18 Bible Studies created by Global Ministries partners were viewed over 3,000 times along with nearly 30,000 page views for the other resources of the Initiative; and the 21 webinars featuring partners and former mission personnel attracted 1,300 viewers for the live events as well as 2,400 views of the archived events. These resources were heavily promoted in Global Ministries’ communications as well as in other denominational channels. The office of Mission Engagement was encouraged in the significant growth of congregational participation compared to the previous Global Ministries Initiative.


Global Ministries hosted ¡Missionworks! at the Marten House in Indianapolis, Indiana August 26-28, 2016. 123 individuals attended the event along with 24 regional ministers and moderators. The event featured two international partners – Bishop Munib Younan of the Evangelical Church in Jordan and the Holy Land and Rev. Dr. Johnson Mbillah of the Programme for Christian Muslim Relations in Africa (PROCMURA). Global Ministries was pleased to introduce participants to the critical work of partners, mission personnel, and home-based staff.

Global Ministries Book

Restoring Dignity, Nourishing Hope: Developing Mutuality in Mission was released by Pilgrim Press mid-2016. The chapters relate to Global Ministries’ five core values, and feature contributions from international partners, home-based staff, mission personnel, and individuals who have participated in Global Ministries’ programs. The book has been very well received by regions and congregations, contributing to a broader understanding of Global Ministries’ unique lens of how the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) participates in God’s mission in the world. The first printing sold out in November, and a second printing was released by the end of November.

National Youth Event

The National Youth Event was held in Orlando, Florida July 26-30, 2016. The event was well attended, with thousands of youth from the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Global Ministries had a strong presence at the event through workshops, after hours events, exhibits, special guests, and mission personnel. Global Ministries’ booth focused on the Syrian Refugee Crisis and was effective in encouraging youth to think deeply about the individuals being affected by the ongoing war.

Be a Global Mission Church

The Be a Global Mission Church program continues to grow and the office of Mission Engagement has taken steps to improve the program for participating congregations. This includes the launch of a new monthly newsletter that highlights resources and opportunities for mission committees and a revised Be a Global Mission Church handbook. Efforts have also been made to reach out to perspective congregations and the webpages related to the program were revised to invite additional participation in the program.


Linda Lawrence, Program Manager

The Global Ministries Child and Elder Sponsorship Program works with partners to assist with providing the basic needs and education of impoverished children and destitute elders in their own communities and cultures.  Sponsorship funds supplement partners funding to operate and provide services to their children and elder constituents and programs.  The sponsorship program is a way for Disciples and UCC local churches and church members to provide direct assistance to children and elders.  Sponsored elders are given the opportunity to live out their lives in dignity in an environment where they feel loved and cared for. Children are given an opportunity to receive basic healthcare, meals and to attend school as well as opportunities to participate in programs that will provide them skills to succeed in achieving a better life and an inspiration to achieve more in life.  Donors and program directors over the years have praised the Global Ministries Sponsorship Program as one that serves God’s children when in need. Others state they are thankful to all the sponsors who made things possible for them and they are happy and feel blessed by the partnerships.

The program continues to grow in the number of sponsorships and contributions.  New patterns have emerged to support and sustain the children and elders in the program by faithful constituents.  Sponsorship funds are not always sufficient to fully sustain a program’s operation and in some cases, individual sponsors have gone beyond their sponsorships by supporting mission endeavors of our partner agencies.  The Child Sponsorship Program in cooperation with the Resource Development staff raised more than $40,000 for a new building in a new location for the Dumaguete Kalauman Center for Development in the Philippines.  Kalauman needed to relocate because Silliman University was expanding and needed the space Kalauman occupied.  Along with the Middle East office, unrestricted donations were collected for Rawdat El Zuhur in East Jerusalem during the year.  The contributions were in addition to collected funds to support sponsored children.  We have been asked to participate in a fund raising program for the Family Village Farm in India in 2017.

The Global Ministries Child and Elder Sponsorship program is committed to providing quality service and personal attention to the children, elders and sponsors in this ministry.  Both the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ affirm the unity to which we are called to do as part of the whole body of Christ, sharing in God’s one world for everyone.

The following are recognized ministry partners of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) through the Division of Overseas Ministries:

Steve Minson, President
Rambo Committee, Inc.
1648 River Ridge
Williamsburg, VA  23185-7546

The Rambo Committee, Inc. is a nonprofit corporation that has as its sole purpose the support of the work of Christian Hospital Mungeli, India, including its School of Nursing, the Rambo Memorial English Medium School, and the Springer Community College.  During 2016, this support focused on three areas: seeking additional funds for capital construction to assist the Hospital deliver critically-needed services to the people of Mungeli, administering existing financial awards from United States Agency for International Development, and facilitating the travel to Mungeli of persons interested in its witness.

We are delighted to report significant success in raising funds. In October 2016, the Rambo Committee received preliminary notice of a $600,000 award from the American Schools and Hospitals Abroad program (ASHA) of the United States Agency for International Development.  This sum, together with $49,000, from the Rambo Committee, will be used to construct a new dormitory to house 217 nursing students and graduate staff nurses, thereby expanding critically-needed staff and student housing on campus.

Also, over the past year, we have overseen the administration of two prior ASHA awards. In 2014, ASHA awarded the Rambo Committee $600,000 to purchase essential healthcare equipment for Christian Hospital Mungeli, especially for its maternity ward and NICU, and for the construction of a mobile health clinic.  The custom-built mobile health clinic is now complete and bringing critical heath care to people remote villages around Mungeli.  Also, last year, we received a $720,00 ASHA award that, with the Rambo Committee’s $64,000 cost share, is funding construction of a new maternal and child health wing. This new wing will consist of one neo-natal intensive care unit with 25 beds, one maternal ward with 45 beds, two labor rooms that can hold up to six women each, three intensive care units, and six operating rooms, and one classroom for post-delivery education for mothers.  Construction of the new hospital wing is now in progress.

Also, during 2016, through the efforts of the Rambo Committee’s Executive Director, Landa Simmons, more than four dozen people visited Mungeli, each bringing unique talents and perspectives.  Visitors to Mungeli in 2016 included five students from Denison University; one fourth-year medical student from Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine; one graduate of the Harris School of Nursing at Texas Christian University; three students from Butler University; and five students from Eureka University.


John Park Winkler, Jr, President
7201 Astoria Ct., Watuaga, Texas 76148
Website:  Email:

The Disciples Amateur Radio Fellowship (DARF) has provided Radio and communications equipment for overseas mission work since Jim Sugioka convened the organizational meeting at the International Convention in St. Louis in 1958.

In 2015, The installation of a fourth generation of HF communications equipment was completed in The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), consisting of 26 solar powered HF Stations. A team from DARF traveled in 2010 to the DRC to conduct a seminar for church leaders on the process of installing the stations. During his 2016 visit to the United States, DARF leadership met with the Reverend Iliki Bonanga, President and Legal Representative of the Disciples Community of the Church of Christ in Congo (CDCC). The CDCC is requesting 10 additional HF stations for the 10 new Supervisory Posts that are being established as part of their evangelistic goal of having one million members by the end of the decade. DARF is exploring ways to enable those additional stations.

Over the years, equipment has been provided in Paraguay, the Philippines, Lesotho, DRC, and Guatemala.

DARF has regular daily and weekly communications among its membership using networks on the 20 and 75 meter Amateur radio bands and using Skype.

John Park Winkler, Jr, (W5JPW) President
7201 Astoria Ct, Watauga, TX 76148

Dan Owen (W5AHC), Vice President
9004 Bancroft Trail
Austin, TX 78729
(512) 263-7788

John Dale (N0FYE), Treasurer
6110 Leighton Ave
Lincoln, NE 68507
(402) 467-1085

Fred H Erickson, (WD9IXA), Editor, The Mission-aire
1550 Fernwood Dr
Hallsville, MD 65255
(573) 696-3715


The General Board has reviewed GA-1710 from Division of Overseas Ministries/Global Ministries. The report is submitted to the General Assembly for presentation and discussion. No action is required. (Discussion time: 12 minutes)