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New Wilmington Mission Conference welcomes first woman director

Historic mission gathering brings together Christians from 30 states and 16 countries

by Tammy Warren | Presbyterian News Services

NEW WILMINGTON, PA – The 112th New Wilmington Mission Conference (NWMC) is underway on the campus of Westminster College through July 29. This year NWMC welcomes its first woman director, the Rev. Virginia “Ginny” Teitt, organizing pastor of Concord Presbyterian Church in Marysville, Ohio. Teitt was hired Nov. 1 to fill the role of retiring director Dr. Donald Dawson.

The Rev. Ginny Teitt greets Carol and Tim Huddleston, whose daughter, Bethany, had a severe car accident six years ago and, after being in a coma for more than four months, woke up as a “born-again Christian.” At left is Teitt’s son, Samuel. Photo by Tammy Warren.

“It was my husband who saw the job posting, read it … and said, ‘It’s you,’” Teitt shared at the opening meeting of the conference in Anderson Auditorium on Saturday evening. “He helped me get my resume together and made sure I got everything in on time. So here I am.”

Teitt has deep roots in mission. Her father made a commitment to God at age 7 that he would be a missionary in Africa, a promise he and his bride kept by serving as missionaries in Sudan for many years. They were instrumental in translating the first New Testament in the Dinka language. Both her father and maternal grandfather also were pastors.

Although her mother is now in the care of hospice and can barely speak, she is praying that God will speak clearly to everyone attending conference this week.

“I am so very grateful for this exciting opportunity to serve as the director of this historic, impactful, amazing, Spirit-infused, mission mobilization conference,” Teitt said. “I am in awe of all those who work so hard to serve in so many areas to make this week possible.”

She gives newcomers fair warning that they may not be the same after the week of conference. “But don’t think that we all will have to sell our stuff and pack our bags, even if we are willing; only a few may hear that call,” she said.

Samer Zaky and Nardine Tawfik, members of Eastminster Presbyterian Church, serve in an outreach ministry to Arabic-speaking refugees in Pittsburgh. This is their first New Wilmington Mission Conference. Photo by Tammy Warren.

Each year’s conference has a Scripture theme verse. This year’s theme is Jeremiah 29:7, which speaks to the fact that everyone must respond to the invitation to find God’s mission where we live, work, study and worship.

As Teitt’s father would often say, “we are either missionaries or a mission field,” she said.

Teitt and her husband, Jim, an environmental consultant, have been married for 42 years. They have seven children, four grandchildren and a fifth grandchild due in November. Teitt has served on the NWMC Board of Managers for six years and has coordinated and developed conference programs for young adults. Their family has attended NWMC for 20 years.

Throughout her life, Teitt has had a heart and passion for regional and global outreach, particularly to immigrants and refugees. In the director’s role of the oldest Christian mission conference in the U.S., she’s prayerfully seeking how to continue the rich legacy conference while offering opportunities for new generations to respond to God’s call.

“I’ve always had a burden for ministry and missions,” Teitt said. “I wanted to raise my hand when I heard my father lament that not one of his three sons had a heart for ministry.”

The Rev. Ginny Teitt, director of the New Wilmington Mission Conference, hugs Bethany Huddleston. The Huddleston family has attended NWMC annually since Bethany was 4 years old. Photo by Tammy Warren.

Her international mission outreach has included Ethiopia, Thailand and Indonesia, Honduras, Haiti and Mexico, a trip to Vietnam with the World Mission Initiative of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary as well as a visioning trip with pastors and mission leaders to Catania, Sicily, to share Christ with refugees from Syria and North America. She has also worked to support, guide and mentor missionaries serving in India, Costa Rica and Liberia.

The past year has been particularly difficult for Teitt and her family. Although it has included joy in the Australian destination wedding of her oldest daughter, there has also been much heartache and sadness due to Teitt’s serious fall and back surgery and the loss of two of her siblings about two months apart. Her sister, Sarah, died suddenly in August, and her older brother, Jim, lost his battle with leukemia Nov. 1 — the same day she received the call telling her she’d been chosen as the new director of NWMC.

“It’s been a hard year,” Teitt said. “But God is good, all the time.”

Recently, while a youth group was helping round up the family’s small group of rescued Jacob sheep for shearing, the sheep somehow got loose. Jacob sheep are a somewhat rare, spotted, rather motley, multi-horned variety of sheep mentioned in Gen. 30:31-32. Teitt started calling all the sheep by the names her husband had given them.

“Come on, sheep. Myrtle, Rose, Thistle, Pansy, Susan, Ivy. You know me. You know my voice. I have fed you and cared for you … you would likely be dead, starved to death like your pasture mates if we hadn’t rescued you.”

While trekking through the meadow on that 92-degree day, Teitt said it was as if she heard the voice of Jesus saying, “Do you get it?”

This, she said, is a parable of mission: We all like sheep have gone astray (Isaiah 53:6). 

Rolling away the stone
After the loss of her fourth pregnancy in the sixth month and her husband’s job loss in the 1980s, the Teitt family moved from Memphis, Tennessee, back east to Maryland.

One day as Teitt and other women gathered at a friend’s home to pray while their children played together, two of the children slipped out the front door unnoticed. After a neighborhood search, Teitt was devastated to find her toddler son, Samuel, floating face down in the backyard pond.

Ginny and Jim Teitt’s middle son, Samuel, and his wife, Jenn, are expecting their first child in November. As a toddler, God answered prayer and miraculously brought Sam back to life after he had been declared dead. Photo by Tammy Warren.

Samuel was taken to the local hospital. Seven doctors worked on him for an hour and a half and then called his pediatrician to fill out the death certificate.

Many were praying.

Samuel did not die that day. The newspaper headline read, “Toddler who cheated death comes home.”

“Sam’s miraculous restoration resulted in me finding my voice,” Teitt said. “In the hearing of this testimony, including me hearing my own words, people were coming to Christ and overcoming the deceiver. And I recognized that my voice in fact was effectively proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Seven years to the very hour that Samuel was declared dead, Ginny Teitt was at her father’s bedside during his final days. They both remembered the hand of God in Samuel’s life.

“My father turned to me and said, ‘It’s you. It’s always been you. The call of God is on your life.’” She remembered, “My father laid his mantle of ministry and mission on me.”


For more information about the New Wilmington Mission Conference, visit


The 2018 New Wilmington Mission Conference will take place July 20–27.

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