Rev. Mande Muyombo
Bishop Hector Ortiz
The GNJ Tanzania team (from left to right) Ashley Wilson, Executive Assistant to the Director of Connectional Ministries, Lakesha Groover of Covenant UMC in Plainfield, Skylands District Superintendent Steve Bechtold, Bishop John Schol, Sung Hoon Ahn of Ridgewood UMC, Connectional Ministries Director Hector Burgos, Shelley Smith of Ferry Ave UMC in Camden. Photo by James Lee

Puerto Rican and Tanzanian Bishops to Address Annual Conference

May 1, 2018 | | News, Annual Conference Coverage

WILDWOOD – Missional partnerships will be a major highlight of Greater New Jersey’s 2018 Annual Conference session in Wildwood on May 20-22. Bishop Hector Ortiz from the Methodist Church of Puerto Rico and Bishop Mande Muyombo of Tanzania’s North Katanga area will join the conference to share with attendees and celebrate GNJ’s commitment to their regions.

Missional Partnership with Puerto Rico

The need in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria is personal for many in GNJ as congregations and surrounding communities have significant numbers of people with strong family ties to the island. From these concerns, GNJ United Methodists created Esperanza (Hope) for Puerto Rico, a grassroots effort to bring relief and resources to those struggling through the storm’s devastating aftermath.

Working directly with Bishop Hector Ortiz of the Methodist Church in Puerto Rico and coordinating with UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief), churches raised funds and gathered supplies. Shortly following the hurricane, GNJ delivered a $50,000 check to the Methodist Church of Puerto Rico to provide immediate relief and supplies. Additionally, a funds and supplies drive through First UMC of Hightstown raised an additional $50,000 and resulted in 27 pallets of food and six pallets of Christmas toys.

In December 2017, a team from GNJ embarked on a trip to Puerto Rico to assist with the organizing of recovery efforts after the recent hurricanes. Ortiz invited Bishop John Schol and a small team to meet with his staff and leaders about the long-term recovery of the island based on A Future With Hope’s Sandy recovery ministry and talent.

“GNJ is a generous conference offering others our people, funds and experience,” said Schol. “Bishop Ortiz reached out to me because everyone who he talked to said GNJ did a great job responding to Superstorm Sandy.”

Bishop Schol invited Bishop Ortiz to the GNJ 2018 Annual Conference Session to recognize the depth of the connection between the two conferences and to help kick off the Miracles Everywhere Campaign, which is under consideration in the legislative session of the conference.  .

Through its Miracles Everywhere Mission Campaign, GNJ will raise funds over the next three years to support the recovery, rebuilding and renewing of communities impacted by the hurricanes in coordination with the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) and the MCPR.

In addition, the missional partnership with Puerto Rico includes cross cultural immersion experiences to foster youth, young adults, laity and clergy leadership exchanges to develop a deeper understanding of and appreciation for one another’s uniqueness, culture, history, spirituality and ministry in making disciples and transforming communities. It will also include join educational experiences for laity and clergy to leverage best practices for growing and strengthening passionate disciples and vital congregations in a multicultural ministry field.

GNJ will work with the MCPR to provide appointment opportunities to Puerto Rican pastors without congregations because of Hurricanes Irma and Maria so that they can lead in GNJ congregations with their gifts and experiences. There will be opportunities for local churches to establish relationships with local churches in the partnership conference.  including  mission experiences in Puerto Rico and GNJ.

Missional Partnership with Tanzania

The North Katanga Episcopal area of the United Methodist Church is comprised of three Annual Conferences: North Katanga, Tanganyika and Tanzania Conferences. The United Methodist mission in Tanzania began 25 years ago with the deployment of six United Methodist missionaries. Today  there are 68 emerging United Methodist congregations in Tanzania that are growing, both in numbers and impact, in the community.

GNJ and the North Katanga UMC (NKUMC) have  unique histories and common ministries.  Over the past ten years, congregations throughout Greater New Jersey have raised funds for  the Wings of the Morning, an airplane tht transport the sick from rural areas to health facilities in urban ones in North Katanga.  The Wings of the Morning plane and pilot celebrated with GNJ in 2013 by joining us in Wildwood for Annual Conference.

The leaders of GNJ know that missional impact of GNJ and NKUMC goes beyond distance, language, culture. Through the Miracles Everywhere Campaign, GNJ congregations will raise funds for a joint pastors’ school in Tanzania to grow the skills of pastors, support up to ten pastors’ salaries, and start a new congregation or build a new church building. The partnership will also support a Mission/Hope Center in the country’s capital of Dar es Salaam that will start a health clinic to provide life-saving and preventative care to the community, a primary and secondary school for orphans, and host mission teams from across the world.

Bishop Muyombo, who will assume a leadership role on the Council of Bishops this summer, will address GNJ about the new partnership and welcome a team of 10 GNJ leaders to Tanzania in June.

Bishop’s Ortiz and Muyombo will address Annual Conference on Monday, May 21 at 3:15 p.m. in the West Hall prior to legislation regarding missional partnerships and GNJ’s Miracles Everywhere Mission Fund Campaign.

For more information and to see the full Annual Conference schedule, visit www.gnjumc.org/2018-annual-conference