Two clergywomen and a layman begin a two-year journey as Conference Mission Ambassadors this year, while Geraldine Truog and Jodale Barnhart, the current Mission Ambassadors continue to share stories of their mission experiences in Latin America with local churches and groups throughout Western Pennsylvania.
Every two years the Mission Ambassador Committee selects people to receive partial funding (approximately half the cost) to travel to the area of the world that will be studied at Mission u. The study for 2017 and 2018 will focus on Missionary Conferences in the United States -- the Alaska, Oklahoma Indiana and Red Bird Missionary conferences.
The ambassadors visit missionaries and mission projects and get an overview of what the church is doing in the selected study area. When the ambassadors return to Western Pennsylvania, they serve as speakers, sharing information about mission; inspiring others to get involved, and encouraging donations and mission support. Learn more.
The new mission ambassadors are the Rev. Cyndi Bloise, pastor of Beulah Park and Christy Park UMCs in McKeesport; Clay Campbell, lay leader of Heckathorn UMC; and the Rev. Pam Gardner, pastor of Wesley UMC in Erie.
Being a Mission Ambassador for the Conference has been a dream for Pamela Gardner since the early days of her ministry, she said. It began when the United Methodist Women of the Marchand Charge encouraged her to attend her first Cooperative School of Mission at Allegheny College. The dream was planted by the many active, faithful United Methodist Women who welcomed her in as a young clergywomen.
Since that first Cooperative School of Christian Mission, Pam has served as teacher (geographical study on Mexico), Dean and Assistant Dean, and attended yearly schools while serving local congregations. At Wesley Church, where she currently serves, "international and local missions are highly esteemed," the pastor said. She serves on the boards of the Erie United Methodist Alliance and Inter-Church Ministries.
An accountant with his own firm in Seneca, PA, Campbell said his avocation is teaching and "I take advantage of teaching opportunities every chance I get," he said. "I've held about every position at Heckathorn UMC, dating back to youth group leader with my wife Fern in 1970." He has taught Safe Sanctuaries workshops and served as Franklin District lay leader and a lay member to annual conference. Currently, Clay said he is blessed to teach the youth Sunday School class and an adult Bible study at Heckathorn.
"Being a Mission Ambassador excites me," he said. "I have a passion for the people of Appalachia and our Native American brothers and sisters."
Cyndi Bloise is a second-career pastor, committed to leading her church in serving the needs of the community immediately surrounding her two churches in McKeesport. With undergraduate and a master's degree in communication disorders and speech-language pathology, she worked 10 years in that field before entering seminary. While serving churches in Monroeville, Pitcairn and McKeesport, she has been involved in anti-poverty ministry, communities outreach and national and international mission work and also earned a D. Min. from United Seminary.
Her mission experience began in 2005 when she and her husband Frank joined a two-week mission trip to Uganda. Since then she has organized trips to do flood recovery and other mission work in Slidell, LA; Moore, OK; Ft. Payne, AL; Project Chacocente in Nicaragua and Roxana, Costa Rica.
Geraldine Truog and Jodale Barnhart, will serve through July 2017. They are available to speak at services or meetings about mission activities they have witnessed during their travels to Latin America. Geraldine has visited Haiti, Colombia, Bolivia, and Nicaragua; while Jodale has been to Guatemala, Paraguay and has a February trip to Nicaragua.
There is no charge to have one of these speakers come to your church. Donations to offset travel costs are welcome, as are contributions that support the mission activities they tell about. Please email these speakers at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com to schedule an event.