While procedures for VIM Teams are in the process of being made consistent across the US and may change in the future, these are the common practices and expectations. Once a host is ready and has issued a call for teams or has set up an on-going hosting process, the Team Leader should contact the potential host site to discuss their needs, setting, and calendar availability. Frequent host sites and those with a strong current needs are listed in the table at the bottom of this page and the Project Lists below contain comprehensive lists by geography. Sandra Matoushaya WPA VIM Coordinator can also consult with teams in their planning process.
Register Once basic plans and team are firm, all Team Leaders should share their team plans with their Conference VIM Coordinator. The best way to do this is online using Register Your VIM Team in the menu bar to your right or bottom. If your Team Leader has not had VIM Team Leader Training since 2013, they should take it again as this will help to ensure that you are using the current WPA legal forms. All VIM Teams should purchase VIM insurance or its equivalent to safeguard the volunteers that are serving.
Report Team Leaders are also asked to report and reflect on their experience using the online Mission Service Report after they have returned. This information can then be compiled to share with others and may be sent back to your church upon request to be used in their annual reporting on ministry (statistical and charge conference reports.)
Managing Risk Appropriately Though we seek to reduce risk for all participants, congregations, and partners, no activity is without risk. While most teams serve with little or no incident, it is not uncommon for medical, health, political, and other conditions to arise that call for the team leader to pay attention to the safety of both individuals and sponsoring ministries. All team leaders should fully discuss risk factors with their host and teams in advance and use the following resources to address matters of liability and risk, including taking risk into consideration in your timeframe and planning. It is better to re-schedule a team than to put team members, sponsor, and hosts in high-risk scenarios.
Additional Forms In addition to short term VIM insurance, it is the Volunteers in Mission standard practice to ask each participant to fill out liability release forms to acknowledge the risk and protect the sponsoring church as well as medical release forms to ensure that medical treatment can be administered while traveling. These and additional suggested forms are distributed at VIM Team Leader trainings and are available upon request from WPA Missions/VIM Coordinator, Sandra Matoushaya at Sandra Matoushaya or by calling the UM Center. If you are unsure if your church and mission team are using the correct paperwork, please consult with the VIM Coordinator.
Additional Resources Team leaders are encouraged to check the following organizations for guidelines, travel warnings, and other information that should be passed along to team members as part of their preparation and discernment before travel.
Zika Virus Many VIM teams and local churches have relationships and ministries in areas that are currently affected by the Zika outbreak. The CDC currently recommends that anyone traveling in Central and South America (include most of the Caribbean) create and travel with a Zika Prevention Kit. It is also suggested that you see a doctor or County Health Dept. upon return for testing as not everyone who contracts the disease has noticeable symptoms.
Birth defects are among the most serious side effects of Zika, and therefore UMVIM’s policy is to advise that no one who is attempting to get pregnant participate in an UMVIM mission journey to a country with active Zika cases. Please note that this advisory also includes males, as the virus can be spread by sexual contact. More information from CDC.
At this time, our VIM insurance currently continues to insure those teams traveling to Zika-affected areas.