Today’s post is by Rev. Dr. Tammy Kuntz. Rev. Dr. Kuntz is Coordinator of United Methodist Volunteers in Mission (UMVIM), North Central Jurisdiction. It is a response to David W. Scott's post, "COVID-19, Travel, Zoom, and the Future of United Methodist Mission."
Yes, World, We are still in mission!
While the COVID-19 pandemic has forced us into stay-at-home and self-quarantine, we know that United Methodists continue to serve their neighbors. Masks and gloves have replaced hammers and saws as people shift their skills to provide food and necessary daily-living supplies to their communities. Those with sewing machines are moving beyond school bags and Days for Girls kits to making masks. Volunteers in Mission (VIM) work with the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) to respond quickly to the needs of their neighbors following tornadoes in alternative ways as directed by each annual conference. We are still in mission. It just looks different.
Yes, the number of short-term teams has dropped off. Project sites have suspended operations, international borders are closed, and airlines have cancelled flights. However, there are still stories to tell. Previous mission engagements are shared through web sites and social media connections with team members. We are still telling the story. It just looks different.
Some project site directors are offering a virtual mission journey. We can still share in the good work happening at Give Ye Them to Eat and Bahamas Methodist Habitat. More of these missions will be available in the coming weeks. We are still serving. It just looks different.
Teams, districts, and conferences partnering with mission sites in the US and around the world are connecting and gaining an understanding of the concerns for the future. The cancellation of teams means a reduction of income as well as an inability to meet the needs of the community. This is evidenced in the Michigan-Haiti Partnership previously referenced. We are still partnering. It just looks different.
Yes, our international partners may realize that they have been relying too heavily on US short-term mission teams. People are coming together for their own communities, meeting the need of neighbors, and offering skills they may not have realized they had. After all, when we share in God’s mission, we know that we are there to meet the needs of the community, not serve our own expectations of what need to be done. (I John 3:16-18) remembering that the most important task is the one we have just been given. We are still serving God in the world. It just looks different.
There is no doubt that the mission field will look different when the world emerges from this pandemic. We will still be in mission. It will just look different.
Rev. Dr. Tammy Kuntz, Volunteers in Mission North Central Jurisdiction
Rev. Tom Lank, Volunteers in Mission Northeastern Jurisdiction
Karen Distefano, Volunteers in Mission South Central Jurisdiction
Ronda Cordill, Volunteers in Mission Western Jurisdiction
Rev. Matt Lacey, Volunteers in Mission Southeastern Jurisdiction
Gray Gambrell, Volunteers in Mission Southeastern Jurisdiction