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Mission co-workers returning to the United States

International Young Adult Volunteer sites shut down

by Kathy Melvin | Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE — The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has requested that all mission co-workers with the United States as home-base (United States citizens and U.S. permanent residents) return to the U.S. as recommended by the State Department. World Mission’s crisis management team is meeting seven days a week to coordinate individually with each mission co-worker in each country to determine the best course of action.

“In some cases, borders and airports are closed and in other cases our mission co-workers are making the decision to shelter-in-place” said Sara Lisherness, interim director of World Mission. “Those that are sheltering-in-place have submitted detailed plans on how to remain safe or be evacuated if necessary.”

Some mission co-workers have already returned to the U.S. and are under a mandatory 14-day quarantine. Some are serving in countries where the airport or the entire country is in lock-down, and they cannot travel. Some have underlying medical conditions and travel would further endanger their health. Literally, each situation is unique.

World Mission’s crisis management team has also been working to find both short-term and long-term housing for those returning to the US. This varies from individual travelers to whole families.

“This was a very difficult decision, arrived at after much prayer and discernment, but considering the unpredictable spread of the virus, we believe it is the best course of action,” said Lisherness.

According to the Rev. Everdith Landrau, coordinator of the Young Adult Volunteer (YAV) program, a decision has also been made to close international YAV sites for the remainder of the current YAV year (through July 2020).  Most of those volunteers have already arrived back in the U.S. and are in quarantine. A decision on the national sites is forthcoming. Right now, national YAVs are sheltering-in-place.

Lisherness said, “While these actions may also cause concern among global partners, we have assured them our support will continue and we will hold them in prayer, as we hope they will be praying for us.”

The situation is changing rapidly — not only in the U.S., but around the world. Lisherness said her team will do its best to communicate regularly.

World Mission appreciates the prayer and financial gifts to maintain the safety and health of mission personnel called and commissioned by the PC(USA) to serve around the world. For those called to send additional financial gifts to support the massive return of staff and volunteers, click on Gifts to this unrestricted Shared Mission account will be used where they are needed most.    

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