The second largest Protestant denomination in the nation has launched a long-term missionary recruitment campaign it fill its need for missionaries.
While in immediate need of missionaries, the United Methodist Church is looking for people who will devote years to the service through its campaign, "The Face of Today's Missionary: Is It Yours?"
"We need missionaries," said the Rev. R. Randy Day, general secretary of the Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church, at the mission agency's semi-annual meeting this week.
"While we need new personnel in the immediate future, we are thinking long-range," he added. "We need to cultivate people with a mission call, to help young people make the educational choices that will equip them for mission, and to identify existing professionals who may want to use their talents and skills in missionary service."
According to Day, the recruitment initiative is quite broad, covering everything from standard support and short-term young adult service to Hispanic ministries and the newly added Global Health Missionaries, which targets sub-Saharan Africa.
Day's call for missionaries comes four years after financial shortfalls resulted in a slow down of new missionary recruitment and placement, according to the mission agency.
However, the United Methodist Church has several new groups of missionaries prepared for dispatch, including 16 standard support missionaries (three-year term) who will be assigned to work in Africa in May and 20 short-term young adults who will be commissioned in July.
There are currently some 220 standard support missionaries, mostly outside the United States, and partial support is provided to another 120 persons, mostly in the states. The General Board of Global Ministries also helps to support 293 "persons in mission" selected by partner churches worldwide.
The latest recruitment campaign comes amid the U.S. United Methodist Church's continual decline in membership, now currently at nearly 8 million, while its churches overseas are seeing a boom in membership. Membership outside the U.S. has increased 177 percent in United Methodist conferences existing over the past decade.
In the wake of growing numbers worldwide, the recruitment initiative takes a more international approach, with the campaign available in five languages and missionary assignments carried out in collaboration with partner churches around the world.
"We are an international mission agency and we are looking for missionaries from throughout our connection," said Day.