New United Methodist Missionaries Receive A Blessing of Bread from Those Retiring


By Elliott Wright*

STAMFORD, CT, October 11, 2006--Fourteen new United Methodist missionaries, including a North Alabama couple, each received a loaf of bread for the journey from 14 retiring missionaries as the new missionaries were sent to serve in ten different countries of Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

The dramatic liturgical act took place during a service of worship in which the new missionaries were commissioned and retiring missionaries were honored by the denomination's General Board of Global Ministries. Directors of the mission agency met in Stamford, CT, on October 9 through 12.

Bishop Violet Fisher of North Central and Western New York said in a sermon that the work of the new missionaries would not be easy but that they would be sustained by Jesus Christ, the Bread of Life-bread with a capital B.  Her biblical text was the account of Jesus feeding the 5,000 in the Gospel of John (6:1-13).

The commissioning of missionaries involves a ritual of solemnity and joy in which the Church, represented by laity and clergy, symbolically sets the missionaries apart for special work. Missionary is one of the oldest and most honorable designations for a professional Christian worker. Missionaries spread the good news of Jesus and serve people in varieties of ways. 

The new missionaries include pastors, educators, health professionals, and an agronomist.  They are assigned to Bolivia, Cambodia, Chile, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Mozambique, Senegal, Thailand, and Zambia.

Two of the group, the Rev. Sherri Tabaka-Morrisey and her husband the Rev. Michael W. Morrissey, Jr., of the Kentucky Annual Conference are the first United Methodist missionaries assigned to Thailand.

Fourteen of 24 missionaries retiring this year were present in Stamford.  Bishop Joel N. Martinez of San Antonio, president of the mission board, paid tribute to the retirees who collectively represent almost 500 years of mission service. 

Deaconess Marian Martin, formerly director of the Gulfside Assembly in Waveland, MS, a center destroyed by Hurricane Katrina but being rebuilt, spoke on behalf of the retirees.  Her counsel to the new missionaries:  Love God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind. (See list of retirees below).

 Bishop Fisher, a vice president of the General Board of Global Ministries who was herself a missionary in Africa in her youth, spoke forcefully about the call to mission service and the servant role of missionaries. And, she said, God never calls anyone who God does not prepare.

The new missionaries come from ten annual conferences in the United States and Africa. In addition to the Morrisseys, they include:

  • The Rev. Kimberly Brown-Whale and the Rev. Richard Brown-Whale are from the Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference, and are returning to missionary service. They are assigned to the Senegal Mission and will be based in Dakar.
  • John and Suzanne Nunn Funk from the North Alabama Annual Conference will be working at the Colorado Technical Agricultural High School in Rio Colorado, Bolivia.
  • Becky Harrell, Southwest Texas Annual Conference, will continue as coordinator of Methodist Extension to Andean Youth, Iquique, Chile, a post she held for several years as a volunteer in mission.
  • Sun Lae Kim, Greater New Jersey Annual Conference, is assigned to congregational development work at the United Methodist Mission, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
  • The Rev. Dennis Lipke and Mrs. Dale Lipke, Virginia Annual Conference, are going to the Cambine Mission, Mozambique.
  • Irene Mparutsa, Zimbabwe West Annual Conference, will serve as coordinator for community health, agriculture and microenterprise in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
  • Tshala Mwengo, South Congo Annual Conference is assigned as director of the Mujila Falls Agricultural Project in Mwinilunga, Zambia.
  • Hee Jin Park, California Pacific Annual Conference is coordinator of evangelism and church growth at the United Methodist Center in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
  • Farayi Tiriwepi, Zimbabwe West Annual Conference is area financial executive in the Central Congo Area, Democratic Republic of Congo, based in Kinshasa.

The retiring missionaries and deaconesses, their years of service, and their places of service are:

  • Lucille Barton, seven years, US
  • Wilson Boots, 26 years, Argentina, Bolivia, the US
  • Barbara Brooks, 32 years, US and Colombia
  • Sharon Crowe, 17 years, Democratic Republic of Congo
  • William Crowe, 17 years, Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Dennis Holoway, 28 years, US
  • Jean Jacobs, 39 years, Peru and Mexico
  • Carolina Labrada, 14 years, Mexico and the US
  • Claire Lovelace, 18 years, US
  • Shirley Lukens, 11 years, US
  • Marian Martin, 30 years, USA
  • Perry Rick Newbury, 30 1/2 years, US
  • Nancy Peterson, 13 years, US
  • Diane Ray, 28 years, Nigeria and Kenya
  • Ronald Ray, 28, Nigeria and Kenya
  • Jeannine Reynolds, 10 years, US
  • Alan Streyffeler, 18 years, Zimbabwe, Senegal, and US
  • Mavis Streyffeler, 18 years, Zimbabwe, Senegal, and US
  • Donald Turman, almost 17 years, Indonesia
  • Ramona Turman, almost 17 years, Indonesia
  • Christine Williams, almost 8 years, US
  • Patricia Wise, 34 years, US
  • Diana Upchurch, almost 16 years, Democratic Republic of Congo and Guyana
  • William Upchurch, almost 16 years, Democratic Republic of Congo and Guyana

The 14 retired missionaries present for the celebration were Lucille Barton, Wilson Boots, Dennis Holoway, Jean Jacobs, Marian Martin, Diane Ray, Ronald Ray, Jeannine Reynolds, Alan Streyffeler, Mavis Streyffeler, Donald Turman, Ramona Turman, Diana Upchurch, and William Upchurch.

*Elliott Wright is the information officer of the General Board of Global Ministries.


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