WPAUMC Mission Fellows, Youth, Young Adults in Philippines During Typhoon


Forty-two young adults from 11 countries, including two from Western PA, were gathered in Tagaytay in the Philippines to get ready for service as Generation Transformation Global Mission Fellows when Typhoon Rammasun, known locally as Glenda hit. The group, along with delegates to the Global Young People's Convention, including for from WPAUMC, initially sheltered in place when the typhoon hit, but damage forced a move to Island Cove near Manila. The event was to open today. 

Polly Zilhaver of Lakeside UMC in DuBois and Rebekah Swineford Clapp are young adult representatives to the Convocation, while Carleen Long of Lakeside UMC and LauraGrace Orner are youth representatives. 

The Mission Fellows, including Katherine Wrona of Bethel UMC in Lower Burrell and Annabeth Tucker of First UMC in Erie, will respond to God's call on their life when they are commissioned by the General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM) in a service scheduled for 8 p.m., EDT, on Friday, July 18. They will be sent to serve for two years with organizations in 15 countries, sharing God's love through acts of mercy and piety.

In preparation, they were spending three weeks being trained by mission staff-engaging in prophetic, vocational exploration while living together in a faith community. This year their training coincided with the 'Global Young Peoples Convocation, sponsored by the Young People's Ministries division of the General Board of Discipleship (GBOD). The fellows will participate in the convocation as non-voting delegates and will be commissioned as part of it.

Watch the commissioning live (beginning at 7:45 p.m., July 18) at www.umcmission.org/live  and share messages of encouragement. Follow @umcmissionGT on Twitter for training and commissioning updates.

The Mission Fellows and convocation participants were awakened in the middle of the night by strong winds and rain. The storm was the equivalent of a Category 3 hurricane and prompted the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of people in the region, according to news reports.

Convo participants gathered in the common meeting spaces of each building. Young people supported one another with songs and prayers through the early morning hours. They prayed for the nearby community and those with less secure shelter.  

The Young People’s Ministry Division of the board moved the entire convocation to a central secure building during the eye of the storm. Other buildings sustained damage to roofs, windows and minor flooding. The damage prompted event organizers to move some of the young people to new hotels.

“Everyone at the CCT center is safe. Our team is in the process of making plans for moving forward,” said Mike Ratliff, board staff executive for Young People’s Ministries, after confirming everyone was accounted for. Almost 300 delegates from around the world were reported safe in the center’s Isaiah Hall, and food was available, a volunteer said.

Plumbing was out, however, and lights were sporadic, according to the Rev. Steve Horswill-Johnston, a board staff executive. Bishop Hope Morgan Ward met with youth in a safe room during the morning, Horswill-Johnston said.

Financial support for Annabeth Tucker and Katherine Wrona, as well as Mission Fellow Grace Killian of Mt. Lebanon UMC, who is serving in Palestine, can be made through their individual bio pages linked below. 

Annabeth Tucker

Katherine Wrona

Grace Killian