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Global Justice Volunteers: Young Adults of the United Methodist Church Learn as They Serve

by Brenda Wilkinson

General Board of Global Ministries, The United Methodist Church



One of the fastest growing areas of mission service in The United Methodist Church is that of persons who volunteer for short-term service both in this country and abroad. They offer skills ranging from medical to construction and from teaching to agricultural; they serve in numerous capacities. Much of the work they perform is coordinated through the grassroots Volunteers in Mission movement and resourced by the Mission Volunteers Program Area of the General Board of Global Ministries.

Traditionally, volunteer work of this nature has been performed by youth groups, retirees, or mid-life career persons in search of new and spiritually fulfilling experiences. But today a new movement is afoot with inclusion of more young adult participants than ever before.

Many United Methodist Churches have long been involved in organizing VIM projects in their congregation; others are now getting on board encouraging and enabling young and mature adult membership to work on restoration and building of homes and churches, serve in feeding programs, tutor students, assist the elderly, and perform other community service. Staff of Global Ministries has given support to some of these local efforts through the United Methodist Volunteers in Mission movement.


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Westwood UMC youth from Cincinnati, Ohio, worked on a project at St. Paul & St. Andrew UMC in NYC. Photo by Bill Sampson.

Where do these youth serve once they have outgrown their youth group? Beyond the local church, GBGM has been instrumental in recruitment of young adults to learn and work at home and in distant places.

One example is the new Global Justice Volunteers Program, which is thriving, according to Bud Heckman, Executive Secretary for Volunteer Placement for Global Ministries. Recently, five young adults returned from placements in Armenia and Brazil and nine more are going to Costa Rica, the Philippines, and the Republic of Georgia in mid-September.

Global Justice Volunteers is just one of five new opportunities for young adults to work on justice issues. Others include stalwart United Methodist programs like Mission Interns and US2's where 27 new young persons were recently commissioned to serve.


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Global Justice Volunteers Team III: (top, left to right) Angela Johnson (Virginia to Armenia); Federico Leao (Uruguay to Armenia); Carrie Brunken (Texas to Brazil); (bottom) Aaron Buttery (Colorado to Armenia), Micah Beatty (Missouri to Brazil). Photo by Bud Heckman.

August 29, 2000

See also: Testimony of Three Young Adults in Mission to Armenia


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