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PMA Board committee speaks with 18 mission co-workers from Asia, Pacific


Among the lessons learned: One of the world’s vast regions faces common challenges

by Kathy Melvin | Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE — Scattered around the country, members of the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board’s Outreach to the World Committee met via webinar Tuesday with mission co-workers from throughout Asia and the Pacific to learn more about the work World Mission is engaged in with its global partners there.

The Rev. Shannan Vance-Ocampo, chair of the committee, moderated the event, designed to allow committee members to hear presentations from mission co-workers and board members to ask questions about the current focus of the co-workers’ collective work.

“The Outreach to the World Committee of the Mission Agency Board is holding webinars this year with deployed staff in Compassion, Peace and Justice and World Mission to learn about their ministries,” she said. “We are placing a focus this year on connecting to our wonderful staff in the Mission Agency and learning about their various ministries so that we can be faithful members of the Mission Agency Board and support their service and share it with the wider church.

“(Tuesday’s) webinar was focused on deployed mission personnel in Asia-Pacific. We heard from 18 mission co-workers today who shared with us about their work and ministry that engages in ministries that are wide-ranging and cover areas such as theological engagement, interfaith and ecumenical relationships, climate change, peacemaking, working with the Young Adult Volunteer program, evangelism and partnership building.

The Rev. Shannan Vance-Ocampo

”We heard of deep concern for sharing the love and justice of Jesus Christ in that region of the world as ambassadors of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). As a committee we are deeply moved by the incredible work of our mission personnel. We will be holding three additional webinars prior to the PMAB meeting in September 2019 at the Stony Point Center.”

The additional webinars will be regional in focus and will include the Middle East and Europe, Latin America, and the Caribbean and Africa.

Mienda Uriarte, World Mission’s area office coordinator for Asia and the Pacific, gave an overview of the region, which includes East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia and the Pacific. She emphasized the area’s vast scope, which includes islands, oceans and land. For instance, the Philippines alone is comprised of more than 7,000 islands. More than 2,000 languages are spoken across the region.

“Our work is affected by many things, including geopolitics, changes in leadership and the economy. This impacts the way we engage from one country to the next,” she said.

Participants from East Asia included Choon Lim, regional Liaison for China, Japan, North Korea and South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan; John McCall, mission co-worker for more than 20 years in Taiwan; Johnathan and Emily Seitz, mission co-workers also serving in Taiwan; Hyeyoung Lee and Kurt Esslinger, serving in South Korea, Bill and Anne Moore in Japan; and Myyoung Ho Yang, serving in Hong Kong.

From Southeast Asia and the Pacific were regional liaison Hery Ramambasoa and Esther Wakeman, Thailand; Cobbie and Dessa Palm, the Philippines; Cathy Chang, mission co-worker based in the Philippines helping global partners address issues of migration and human trafficking; and Sharon Bryant, serving in Thailand.

From Southeast Asia, regional liaison Gary and Marlene Van Brocklin and Les and Cindy Morgan participated in the webinar.

Although the region is vast and varied, there are common themes in the work with global partners, including climate change, environmental justice, migration and human trafficking. The mission co-workers bring together local and international organizations to collaborate for maximum collective impact.

Uriarte encouraged board members to invite mission co-workers to speak to their congregations or mid-councils when they come back for mission interpretation assignments every 2-3 years. To schedule speakers, contact

Uriarte also suggested that people who’d like to learn more visit three specific World Mission websites: for general information; to read letters and stories from the mission co-workers; and to receive World Mission’s Mission Crossroads magazine published three times each year.

Cathy Chang suggested people consider joining an upcoming CPJ travel study seminar in May 2020 in which she will participate. The seminar includes travel to the Philippines and Hong Kong, with the goal of gaining a concrete understanding of the conditions of migrant workers and the impacts on their families. For more information, click here.

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