In November 2011, when I read an article that said The United Methodist Church General Board of Global Ministries and The Mission Society were on speaking terms I knew I had to put them to the test. The article talked about the personal friendship between the two leaders which was leading to a working relationship and more open conversations between the two organizations. So, I sent the executive officers of GBGM & TMS an e-mail and asked if they would be willing to join us in a church active in mission as we celebrate outreach.
And they said yes!
We have an exciting, perhaps historic (in the biggest sense of the word), annual mission event coming up February 2-3. Dr. Thomas Kemper, General Secretary of The United Methodists Church General Board of Global Ministries, and Rev. Dick McClain, President & Chief Executive Officer of The Mission Society, will be our featured preachers. They will preach Saturday, February 2 and Sunday, February 3 at Trinity on the Hill United Methodist Church in Augusta, Georgia. I'm not sure my congregation understands what a big deal this is, but we are finding United Methodists from throughout Georgia and South Carolina who will be joining us as we celebrate missions and focus on a theme of "Building Bridges" .
Dr. Thomas Kemper is the top executive of the General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM). From 1986-1994, he served as a missionary in Brazil before returning to his native Germany to lead ecumenical learning at the Lippische Landeskirche, a regional church of the Association of Protestant Churches. From 1998-2010 he served as mission leader for the United Methodist German Central Conference. Prior to his current role as General Secretary Kemper was a member of the GBGM Board of Directors. The GBGM connects the 13 million member United Methodist Church in mission in 136 countries. There are currently 324 GBGM missionaries serving around the world with almost 50% of current missionaries coming from countries outside the United States. Kemper is married to Barbara Hüfner-Kemper and the father of three children: Ana, 20, Lena, 19, and Joshua, 15. Thomas enjoys preaching and is becoming known here at GBGM for his good sense of humor. We are honored to welcome Dr. Kemper to Augusta and to our congregation.
Rev. Dick McClain is President and Chief Executive Officer of The Mission Society. Rev. McClain took on that role in September 2009 after many years with the organization. The longest-tenured member of the staff, Dick came to The Mission Society as its first director of missionary personnel in 1986 and has served in many capacities since then. Today The Mission Society has over 200 missionaries who serve in 35 countries, as well as collaborative efforts with numerous churches and Christian organizations around the world. The son and grandson of missionaries, Dick was born in China and grew up in India and Hong Kong. An ordained United Methodist minister, he served pastorates in West Michigan for 11 years. Dick married his college sweetheart, Pam, and the couple has three married children: Josh (and Amita), Heather McClain Wilson (and Steve), and Joey (and Ashley). They also have five grandchildren (Ian, Tyler, Matthew, Eden, and William). Rev. McClain has preached at Trinity on the Hill on other occasions and we are pleased to welcome him back to Augusta.
We are in for a treat as these international mission leaders lead our conversations February 2-3. Don't get left out of this historic meeting and the celebration of Good News that will be taking place in Augusta!