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Global mission network certifies Diocesan Mission Agents, launches Young Adult program

By Kate Day
[Episcopal News Service]  At its 10th annual Mission Institute, held at Christ Church Cathedral in Indianapolis on June 23-24, the Global Episcopal Mission Network (GEM Network) awarded certificates to the first graduates of a new program that prepares Episcopalians to be Global Mission Agents in their home dioceses. A Global Mission Agent, as defined by GEM Network, is someone who works to equip and organize individuals, parishes and diocesan organizations for effective global mission engagement. The agent’s job is not to direct or control global mission within a diocese, but to encourage and support everyone involved in it and get them talking to one another.
The Rev. Mark Harris, former director of the GEM Network, is responsible for developing the 3-year certificate program. To be certified, a person must attend the GEM Mission Institute for three years, and complete field work and written work in the intervals between Institutes. Harris and Chris Brennan conducted the program. Those certified (and their home dioceses) this year include: Donald Engstrom (Western Massachusetts), Mary Louise Gotthold (California), S. Jane Griesbach (W Mass), James Heathcote (Southern Ohio), Margaret Larom (Director of Anglican and Global Relations, Episcopal Church Center), Susan Messenger (Central NY), Virginia Peterson (Atlanta), Claudia Pistek (Delaware), and Margaret Van Auker (Maryland). 
A brand new project of GEM Network was also launched at this year’s Mission Institute: the Young Adult Mission Educational Institute (YMEI – pronounced “why me”). This program brought together young adults, ages 18 – 24, who have already had a significant mission experience. For two days, participants celebrated their experiences, reflected on them both theologically and logistically, and planned for the next step in their own mission involvement – both as missionaries and as global mission agents in their dioceses.
Backed by a generous grant from UTO, YMEI was developed and staffed by three members of the GEM Network Board: Marcus Cunningham (seminarian at Sewanee from the Diocese of Northern Indiana); Ben Calder (Central Pennsylvania); and the Rev. Kate Day (Central New York). The participants included: Rachel Colson, Young Adult Service Corps alumna and current law student at Syracuse University (Central New York); Joe MacKenzie (Southern Ohio); Brittany King, student at Valparaiso University (Southern Ohio); and Kaitlin Youck (Indianapolis). Each participant has already shown significant leadership in their churches and dioceses, and all expressed an eagerness to work to expand the YMEI program for next year.
The YMEI program ran in conjunction with the larger GEM Network Mission Institute, with separate workshops specifically designed for the young adults. Dr. Esther Mombo, academic dean of St. Paul’s Theological College in Limuru, Kenya, and member of the Lambeth Commission on Communion, gave the keynote address for the overall Mission Institute. Her address took its topic, “Ambassadors of Reconciliation,” from the theme of this year’s Institute, and can be found on the GEMN website:
Global Episcopal Mission is a network of member dioceses. Each member diocese sends two representatives appointed by their diocesan bishop to the annual meeting, which takes place in the context of GEM Network’s two-day Mission Institute. The 2006 Mission Institute will be held at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, June 8-9. Kenyon is an historic Episcopal college one hour’s drive northeast of Columbus, where the 2006 General Convention will be held starting on June 13. Current active member dioceses include: Atlanta, California, Central New York, Central Pennsylvania, Delaware, East Tennessee, Eastern Michigan, Georgia, Michigan, Idaho, Indianapolis, Kansas, Lexington, Long Island, Maryland, New York, Northern Indiana, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Southern Ohio, Southwest Florida, Western Louisiana, Western Massachusetts, and Western New York
Open to all, regardless of whether one’s diocese is an active member of the GEM Network, the Mission Institute brings together lay people and clergy who share a passion for overseas mission. Workshops, addresses and worship address all pertain to theological and practical aspects of sending and receiving missionaries. More information about the GEM Network can be found at