Meet North Alabama’s GBGM missionary John Elmore

March 02, 2021

John H. Elmore is a missionary with the General Board of Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church assigned to the Methodist Church of Chile as mission volunteer coordinator. A native of Richmond Virginia, he is a member of Forest Lake United Methodist Church in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

He is supported by approximately 65 Covenant Churches including Bluff Park UMC (Central District). Recently, Bluff Park UMC’s Missions Program Coordinator Susan Reynolds-Porter interviewed John for an article for the church’s newsletter. Below is the article and her full interview.

For more information about John, his ministry and how you and your congregation can support his work click here.

Bluff Park UMC's Mission Work in Chile

Bluff Park UMC has supported missionary John Elmore’s work in Chile since 2007. We are one of about 65 United Methodist Churches throughout the U.S. that support him as Covenant Churches. To be in a Covenant Church relationship with a Methodist missionary requires three commitments: 1) to pray for our missionary and his work; 2) to contribute monetarily to his work; and 3) to send a team at least once a year to work alongside of him.

Since 2007, BPUMC has sent mission teams to Chile to work with John in the various towns where he has served. His current assignment in Angol is to renovate and revitalize the only Methodist camp in Chile. It will be used for spiritual retreats, youth camps, and church meetings.

The rustic camp consists of bedrooms facing an indoor courtyard, a dining hall, and bathrooms. Outside are small, separate outdoor worship areas set among giant sequoias which have grown from seeds missionaries brought from California. The camp is also an easy walk to the Malleco River. One of John's visions is to develop ecological studies at the camp, incorporating hikes to the river and study of local vegetation.

BPUMC’s September 2019 mission team to Chile painted all the bedrooms, repurposed old bunk beds into nightstands, painted out-buildings and fences, and landscaped the grounds. Since COVID prevented us from sending a team to Chile in 2020, the church is sending additional funds to help with John’s work in Angol. We will send another work team to Chile when it is safe to do so!

Meet our Missionary in Chile

NAME: John Elmore
JOB TITLE: Mission Coordinator — Chile
BRIEFLY DESCRIBE YOUR JOB:  Be available to coordinate Volunteer Mission teams to Chile.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART OF YOUR JOB?  The best part of my job is working with teams that come from churches in the United States.
WHAT IS YOUR BACKGROUND? I was born in Richmond, Virginia. From age four to 12, my family lived in Panama where my father worked for a government agency. We then moved back to Northern Virginia where my father worked in Washington. I never liked school and did not go to college. From the time I left high school until I left the U.S. and became a missionary, I was a carpenter, brick layer’s helper, and Abled Body Seamen (ABS) on an oil tanker. I also worked on a farm and with disabled adults. I always wondered why I was never able to settle with one profession. I kept moving around. I believe now, it is because God was preparing me for the work that I am doing now.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR FAMILY: I have been married for 19 years to Maria Cristina Hurtado Rocha; we have no children. My wife is a schoolteacher.
FAVORITE THING TO DO AWAY FROM WORK? I like woodworking, reading and watching movies. I have always liked to watch movies, ever since I was a kid. Some of my best memories as a kid, are of sitting on the couch in the basement of our house on Sunday afternoon, with a bowl of popcorn and a sixteen-ounce Pepsi watching Bonanza followed by the wonderful World of Color — Walt Disney.
HOW OLD WERE YOU WHEN YOU FIRST STARTED ATTENDING A CHURCH REGULARLY?  I always went to church; my parents took me every Sunday. When I was 19 I left home and stopped attending church. I came back to church when I was 35.
WHY HAS “CHURCH” BEEN IMPORTANT TO YOU (AND YOUR FAMILY)?  Going to church every Sunday early in life taught me who God is and helped me establish a firm foundation for my beliefs. When I returned to church when was 35, I wanted to establish a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. During that time, I also realized the importance of the church family and the support it can provide. For me, the Methodist Church in Chile is different from in the USA. I have had to do a lot of adjusting to the way things are done here.
WHEN AND WHERE DID YOU FIRST GET INVOLVED IN MISSION WORK?  My first mission trip was in 1988. It was a disaster relief trip to North Alabama with my home church — Forest Lake UMC in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
I have been trying to get people involved in Mission work for twenty-five years. As a Christian you must realize that it is “not about you”. The only thing personal about being a Christian is your relationship with Jesus Christ, the rest of the time you have a responsibility and an obligation to love your neighbor. Once you realize this and that all people need some type of hands-on mission work, then the possibilities are endless. You will never stop trying to find ways to help your neighbor, you will realize the whole world is your neighborhood.
IF YOU COULD BE ANYPLACE OR TIME IN THE WORLD RIGHT NOW, WHERE WOULD YOU BE?  WHY? Sitting in the backyard of my Mother and Father’s house in the shade of a willow tree, at the picnic table my father made in 1952, eating Chesapeake Bay blue crabs. The year — 1982.

John and his wife Maria Cristina Hurtado Rocha
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