|Designated Mission Giving Program Has New Staff and Plans New Look for 60th Birthday|
New York, NY, October 18, 2007 -- The Advance for Christ and His Church, the designated mission giving program of The United Methodist Church, has a new structure, a new staff, and will have a new look in coming months.
"We have gathered a strong, talented professional team that can build on the rich history of the Advance while positioning us for bold new steps," said Shawn Bakker, who became director of the almost 60-year old program in December, 2006.
The Advance is the "second mile" giving channel for mission--"second mile" meaning beyond the mission support that comes from congregational apportionments. It includes disaster relief through the United Methodist Committee on Relief, supplementary support for missionaries, and ministries in evangelism, church development, and human services around the world. The Advance is lodged within the General Board of Global Ministries.
In a typical year, some $30 to $35 million for mission comes through the Advance. The figure goes much higher when catastrophic natural disasters occur. However, giving through the Advance is not keeping pace with mission needs.
A revised structure designed to strengthen Advance operations and increase income was approved a year ago by the Advance Committee. One major change replaces field offices in each of the Church's five U.S. jurisdictions with direct links to the annual (regional) conferences. The new arrangement implements recommendations made by a study process that included many segments of the church.
"Our new staff team represents a new structure of accountability designed to improve internal communication and fortify relationships with the broad mission constituency," said Ms. Bakker, who as director of the Advance is also an associate general secretary of the mission agency.
Ms. Bakker and the Rev. Christopher Heckert, assistant general secretary of marketing and promotion, are working with United Methodist Communications to develop a visual identity that will carry the Advance into the future.
The United Methodist Church will observe the Advance's 60th anniversary in 2008. Plans are underway to introduce a new logo, promotional materials, and web site at the 2008 General Conference April 23-May 2 in Fort Worth, TX.
A 15 minute presentation in Fort Worth will highlight the role of the Advance in mission over the past six decades. It will utilize video and first-person stories about lives changed by Advance-supported projects around the world. Following the General Conference, a year-long celebration will take the Advance anniversary into annual conferences, district mission events, and congregations.
Advance projects are selected through a review process that includes the approval of the bishop within whose area an applicant is located.
Advance income reached its highest level--$120 million--in 2005 with record giving in response to killer tsunami in South Asia and the devastation of the hurricanes along the Gulf Coast in the U.S.
"We are not looking for a repeat of 2005 with regard to the reasons for the outpouring of support, but we are hoping for significant increases in voluntary, designated mission giving," said Heckert.
In addition to the positions held by Bakker and Heckert, the new Advance structure provides for seven jobs that have been filled and two that will be staffed later. The roster includes:
Still to be hired are a second mission specialist and a specialist in media communications and administration.
Contributions through the Advance can be made through congregations, online giving, or by mail. Each Advance project is assigned a number that can be located online at http://secure.gbgm-umc.org/donations/advance/donate_select_project.cfm
Global Ministries 2007 Fall Board Meeting; Staff and directors of The United Methodist Church's mission agency meeting in Stamford, CT.
Date posted: Oct 18, 2007