Photo of Vine FMC mission trip members by Donna Gallaher
You don’t have to be a megachurch to send a significant number of people on a mission trip.
The Keystone Annual Conference recently honored two local churches for signing up many of their worshippers for General Conference 2015 mission trips that will run from July 8–16, 2015.
“We’re to be glocal, doing ministry globally as well as locally,” said Mitch Pierce, superintendent of the Genesis and Keystone conferences.
Pastor Joe Muir of the Vine FMC in Clearfield, Pennsylvania, was concerned his congregation wasn’t giving enough for missions. He decided the Vine should join other Keystone churches supporting ministry in Hungary. He challenged his church last fall to increase its missions giving to 5 percent of its budget.
“We pledged $1,500 to start this thing out. Our people responded with $1,800,” Muir said.
Then the congregation learned about the GC15 mission trips.
“God has moved us to a place where we have 18 people registered to take the trek to Haiti to help out and just be obedient,” Muir said. The Vine averages nearly 65 people in worship each week, which means 28 percent of the Vine’s attendees will serve together in Haiti.
The gFree Church (previously known as the Gearhartville FMC) near Philipsburg, Pennsylvania, also decided to increase its missions giving, but members wanted more direct engagement.
“We’ve realized sending money is not really the whole package,” Pastor Noel Meyers said. “There’s a piece in this where we get involved. We get our hands in the dirt.”
Meyers said the church had not sponsored a mission trip since some of its members went to Haiti five years ago. He rallied the congregation to register for the GC15 mission trips, and 37 people responded — 19 percent of the approximately 200 people who worship at gFree each week. He said some people are new to Free Methodism, and he believes the trips will allow them “to catch the flavor of who we are as a church.”
The gFree participants have signed up for different locations to serve — both inside and outside the United States.
The mission trips to Miami, Florida, and Antigua are not taking any more volunteers. The trips to the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Costa Rica still have openings.
For people seeking to remain within the United States, opportunities remain to serve several Florida multicultural churches outside Miami. For a missions experience entirely at the same venue as GC15, register to teach in the children’s program hosted by International Child Care Ministries at the Caribe Royale in Orlando.
Those going on the GC15 mission trips will arrive in Orlando the evening of July 8. On July 9 in Orlando, participants will attend learning sessions on leadership, discipleship and reaching our world with the love of Jesus Christ. After training, the teams will serve at their mission destinations before reuniting in Orlando on July 15 to join the celebration and worship of GC 2015.
Go to fmcusa.org/gc15/mission-trips for information and to register.