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Rev. Janet Guyer
Mission co-worker in the Republic of South Africa
Serving as Facilitator for Women's and Children's Interests
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About Janet Guyer's ministry
Janet Guyer accompanies African partners as they strive to address the marginalization of women and children in their communities. She assists with strategic planning, works with women leaders as they seek to expand their skill sets, supports initiatives that promote the well-being of women and children, and encourages relationship building among women across Africa. She also engages with Presbyterian Women and other US constituencies who wish to come alongside and promote these efforts.
The countries where Janet works stretch from southern Africa north to the Horn of Africa. All of them contain large populations of impoverished people. Ethiopia and Zambia have made significant economic gains in recent years, but they remain very poor nations. Malawi and Zimbabwe are among the seven poorest countries in the world, according to the International Monetary Fund. Like other places where poverty is widespread, women and children are disproportionately affected, and the PC(USA)'s partner churches in the region are committed to helping women and children escape poverty. Presbyterianism has a long history in these countries, and English is either an official language or the most widely spoken foreign language.
About Janet Guyer
After more than two decades of mission service, Janet Guyer still experiences the gladness she sensed when she first answered God’s call to mission.
Janet says her calling is described best by author and Presbyterian minister Frederick Buechner, who wrote: “The place where God calls you is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”
Download a prayer card that lifts up Janet's work in Southern Africa
Watch a recent video in which Janet shares about her work in Anglophone (English-speaking) Africa.
In pursuit of her deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger, Janet went to Thailand in 1990 under Presbyterian mission appointment. She worked with the Church of Christ in Thailand in community development ministries and helped the church develop its response to the HIV and AIDS pandemic. Thailand was a familiar place for Janet. She grew up there as the daughter of Presbyterian missionaries John and Betsy Guyer. She was ordained there in 1994 on behalf of Pittsburgh Presbytery and continues membership in that presbytery.
Janet’s next assignment, however, placed her in unfamiliar territory. She was invited to take her experience in HIV and AIDS ministry to Africa in 2002. For the next 11 years she served as a regional AIDS consultant working with partner churches in Southern Africa as they sought to prevent the spread of AIDS and care for those affected by it. She also helped concerned Presbyterians in the United States engage with African partners in response to the pandemic.
While Africa and Thailand contexts are radically different, Janet nevertheless sensed her deep gladness amid the world’s deep hurt as she stood with Africans struggling with the HIV and AIDS crisis. The joy of her vocation has lived on in her current role. “Continuing on in Africa with many of the same partners is a gladness to me,” she says. “Working with things that concern women and children, their gifts, their needs, and their relationships with the church and community are also a deep gladness. At the same time, I know that there is a deep hunger, a need, in these countries. I walk alongside my African sisters and brothers as we address this hunger together.”
Although Janet grew up in the home of missionaries, she never expected that one day she would serve in international mission. “The call to mission came as a surprise, but it did make sense as I evaluated the gifts God had given me and the needs of the world,” she explains.
Like many who serve in mission, Janet says her goal in mission service is for her position to become unneeded. “My greatest joy will be if, one day, my sisters and brothers in the various African churches with which I work will say, ‘Thank you for all you have been and done. I think we can do this by ourselves now.'”
Janet brings extensive educational credentials to mission service. She earned an MDiv degree from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and an MSW from the University of Pittsburgh. Previously she received undergraduate and master’s degrees in education from the University of Oregon. Prior to her mission appointment she taught at the International School of Bangkok in Thailand and in the South Umpqua School District of Myrtle Creek, Oregon.
Birthday: March 10