Sunday, May 21, 2017

Reading and Sunglasses for Your Mission

Reading glasses can be one of the easiest, most  inexpensive ways of making people more productive (our estimate is 20% greater income capacity) and promoting economic growth in the developing world. RestoringVision is a nonprofit dedicated to distributing new reading glasses and sunglasses to groups and organizations helping those in need. Since 2003, we have built a network of partners that have collectively served over 5 million people around the world. We offer a simple solution to one of the greatest global health problems. 

RestoringVision series, “Stories of Hope from Around the World,” raises awareness about the need for and impact that reading glasses and sunglasses have on people’s lives by featuring the work of our partners. 
Restoring Vision is the largest non-profit provider of new, brand name readers and sunglasses(not for resale). Please take a look at the following video:


It is amazing how many people benefit from a simple pair of reading glasses which restores their ability to focus close up. This can make the difference between holding a job and being a fully functioning member of a family or community. The problem is massive (500 million worldwide) but the solution is easy. 

Some additional benefits include:
  • Easy to implement for the novice, student, spouse-we provide dispensing tips and tools to make experience easy and rewarding.  Our readers are sorted by power in 25 pair bags, a standard box would contain 400 low, medium, and high powers. However, we provide anything from 100 to tens of thousands of glasses to various partners.
  • Minimal Cost-these not for resale new, brand name glasses that we provide for 35-50 cents per pair.
For more information, go to the RestoringVision website or contact Steven Hancock at stevehancock@gmail.com

Friday, March 10, 2017

UMVIM, SEJ Seeking Church Relations/Communications Director

United Methodist Volunteers in Mission, SEJ is the short-term mission sending agency of the Southeastern Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church. UMVIM exists to promote, encourage and enable Christians to exemplify “Christian Love in Action” through short-term mission service at home and abroad. UMVIM provides opportunities for service by developing and nurturing relationships with domestic and international leaders. We continually nurture our contacts with these leaders to respond to the needs of local communities and provide comprehensive training resources for team leaders to help them prepare their teams for the mission field.

Church Relations/Communications Director        $35,000 annual starting salary
UMVIM, SEJ is seeking a Church Relations/Communications Director to create and implement communications and development plans for the organization. The office is based in Birmingham, Alabama.` In addition to salary, monthly health insurance reimbursement and pension will be provided.

Responsibilities include:
  • Develop and coordinate external communications
  • Promote the ministries/programs of the organization through Constant Contact, social media (FaceBook, Twitter, and Instagram), and website
  •  Visit (as an exhibitor or speaker) local churches, annual conferences and events
  • Develop and coordinate donor strategies and annual plan for fund-raising
  • Maintain records of donors and send acknowledgements
  • Develop a measuring system for determining the success of each communication and development campaign
  • Maintain editorial control of all communications on behalf of the organization creating a communication plan

Successful candidates should have:
  • Experience in marketing, communications or public relations
  • Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing, Public Relations, Journalism or a related field
  • Exceptional communication skills
  • Must be available to travel at least one to two weeks each month throughout the Southeastern Jurisdiction
  • Skills in marketing, social media, Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop, donor software (GiftWorks), and graphic design

 To apply, applicants should send the following to sejinfo@umvim.org by Tuesday, April 18, 2017:
  • Resume
  • Cover lettering outlining how you meet the specific requirements of the position
  • Three (3) Reference letters

While we sincerely appreciate all applications, only those candidates selected for interview will be contacted.  Please note that the selected candidate will be required to submit to a background check.

Friday, February 10, 2017

UMVIM, SEJ Announces New Executive Director

United Methodist Volunteers in Mission, Southeastern Jurisdiction (UMVIM, SEJ) is pleased to announce that Rev. Matt Lacey has been named Executive Director. As a member of the UMVIM, SEJ Board of Directors and previous employee, Matt comes with a comprehensive knowledge of the ministry. He also has vast experience training and leading UMVIM teams.

An ordained elder in the North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church, Matt is currently serving as the Senior Pastor at Church of the Reconciler UMC in Birmingham, AL and as North Alabama Conference Director of Missions and Advocacy. He also served as the Senior Pastor at Woodlawn UMC in Birmingham, AL from 2009 until 2012.

Matt was the Minister in Residence at UMVIM, SEJ from 2005-2009. During that time, he was responsible for team leader/missioner training, revising the Team Leader Handbook, working with supporting churches, developing UMVIM social media presence and updating project lists. He has been a member of the UMVIM, SEJ Board of Directors since 2009 and currently serves as the Communication Team Chair.

Other connectional involvement includes serving as the elected Representative of the Southeast Jurisdiction Conference Secretary of Global Ministries as a member of Global Ministries Advance Committee and as a delegate to the 2011 World Methodist Council, in Durbin, South Africa.
A graduate of Birmingham Southern College with a Bachelor in Religion, Matt’s call to ministry led him to pursue a Master of Divinity at Candler School of Theology at Emory University where he met his wife, Rev. Katie Gilbert. Katie, an ordained Cooperative Baptist Fellowship clergy, is on staff at Birmingham FUMC. Matt and Katie have one daughter, Harper.

The UMVIM, SEJ staff and Board of Directors is excited to welcome Matt to the position of Executive Director which he will begin early June 2017 following North Alabama’s Annual Conference Meetings, June 4-6.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Prayer Requests for Haiti

From Una Jones / Mission Volunteer Office

We, the UMVIM community, are sadden by the sudden death of Lauren James, UMCOR Field staff, in Haiti. Our prayers go out to Lauren’s family and then the many friends and colleague who had the opportunity to work with Lauren either in Haiti or on prior Mission Journeys. Here is an additional statement from the General Secretary of Global Ministries/UMCOR, Thomas Kemper. From UMCOR/Facebook https://www.facebook.com/UMCOR:

It is with deep sorrow that we ask for prayers and condolences for the family of Lauren James, UMCOR church liaison, Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Lauren died suddenly from a heart attack January 11. Lauren became part of UMCOR's staff in Haiti in 2010, responsible for supervising and coordinating integrated and sustainable development activities in Eglise Methodiste d’Haiti (EMH) communities across Haiti. We are grateful for her years of service to the people of Haiti and to UMCOR. May the peace of Christ surround Lauren's family and friends during this time of mourning and grief.

Furthermore, we are grateful and thankful to Tom Vencuss, his wife Wendy, whose supporting the EMH Guest House and Brulan Jean-Michel with the hosting of UMVIM teams. What a blessing to have these leaders around with Lauren’s death and we prayer for them too. And besides grieving they also faced some challenges last week which we would like the UMVIM community to be aware of.  Here is an extract from Tom and Brulan:

This past week has been a difficult one for the UMVIM and UMCOR communities. Last week, the Methodist Guest House in Jeremie was attacked by a large group protesting the arrest and extradition of Guy Philippe, a Haitian senator and former rebel leader, by the DEA on drug trafficking charges. They were targeting Americans. However, by the Grace of God, everything worked out well at the end.

We keep Lauren's family, and the entire UMCOR-UMVIM community in our prayers. 

Finally, an additional logistical Update will follow next week for UMVIM teams but in the interim as Tom gets ready to depart from Haiti this week-end Mike Willis will arrive in Haiti on January 24, and would further support GH/Brulan. We know mission is challenging but I am grateful to all leadership and the support of the UMVIM Jurisdiction offices to communicate how important UMVIM’s role is not only for our local churches but our partners around the world. Please remember and live by our motto:  UMVIM - Christian Love in Action.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

{#GivingTuesday 2016} The Local Church

November 29: #GivingTuesday 2016 is here! The UMVIM, SEJ Staff and Board have come together and pledged $12,000 that will be matched, dollar for dollar, for every generous donation that is given today. We believe our mission is big, and we also believe that we can't send trained, equipped volunteers into the field to show Christian Love in Action without the support of our community. 
This year, learn more from those who have personally experienced the impact of all UMVIM has to offer. Hollis Crowder, Team Leader and Mississippi Conference UMVIM Coordinator, shares about UMVIM and the ways his team served in Zimbabwe. 


How do volunteers help you carry out God’s mission in Zimbabwe?

As team leader, God has connected me with the volunteers who served the people in Zimbabwe through dentistry, medical care, construction, Bible School, water well drilling, clothing for orphans, and the gospel of Christ. I often say that I am the appointed team leader for God's mission trip but really HE is.  From five different states, the volunteers on the team to Zimbabwe provided the services and worked alongside our country partners, who are a vital part of our team ministry. Advance travel to Zimbabwe was made to assess the needs of the hospital and surrounding communities. The team members brought the needed identified resources for this and future trips.  Additionally, individuals and various church small groups prayed daily for the team and the ministry with which they were engaged. With a relationship established with our Zimbabwe partners by the team leader and all the other support behind us, the team went to serve with confidence in me as the team leader and trust in God to do the work that only they could do. It takes a team to minister to a village and they did.

What differences do you see in teams whose leaders have been trained by UMVIM, SEJ?

Team leader training provides valuable information to prepare team leaders about how to, whom to and where to go to. It included needed documents that help the team get insurance and valuable travel tips. Most of the training helps the team leader prepare team members for a mission trip with standard operating procedures and practices that are applicable on most missions. The training handbook has helpful checklist of things to remember as well as “do's and don’ts.” The training is an opportunity to connect with other persons in missions and to learn from some of their practical experiences but mainly to keep God first in all we do. Valuable resources are shared to help support missions. As a Vietnam veteran, I refer sometimes to our team headquarters as UMVIM, SEJ, the Mississippi Conference and our local church. All of these supports made the team’s mission to Zimbabwe possible.

Share a brief story about the impact of volunteers

Serving God through missions can be fun and a special bond develops with the team members. Our well team was a little nervous about finding water and hoping that we would have enough money to cover the cost if we had to drill very deep. A pre-drilling report estimated a 69% chance of finding water at the hospital. Water surfaced at a far less depth than expected, and the existing water tank was usable which left enough money to drill a second water well for the orphanage. We had set a small goal; but God multiplied what we asked making us realize how much greater God’s plan is. Each team member wrote reflections about the mission in Zimbabwe. Dr. Valda Crowder shared in her reflection, “I felt with the structure of Methodist missions, there was a foundation to build upon that allowed us to go in and create lasting change.”


#GivingTuesday 2016 - today donations will be matched, dollar for dollar, up to $12,000. Please give generously to Advance #901875.

Monday, November 28, 2016

{#GivingTuesday 2016} The Local Church

This year, the UMVIM, SEJ Staff and Board have come together and pledged $12,000 that will be matched, dollar for dollar, for every generous donation that is given on November 29: #GivingTuesday 2016. We believe our mission is big, and we also believe that we can't send trained, equipped volunteers into the field to show Christian Love in Action without the support of our community. 
This year, learn more from those who have personally experienced the impact of all UMVIM has to offer. Rachel Estes, Canterbury UMC Director of Mission and Outreach, was asked to share what UMVIM means to her.


How do volunteers help you carry out God’s mission?

Taking teams to Panamá is one of the blessings of my job. Starting with taking care of logistics and details so that families can focus on each other and this journey ahead, a mission week is time to explore a brand new path together in faith as a family. What a gift! As a team leader, I am able to witness children teaching parents, Panamanians teaching Alabamians, young asking old, stranger helping stranger…and that is why I came into this work…to see boundaries blur and lines erased.

What differences do you see in teams whose leaders have been trained by UMVIM, SEJ?

The team leader training is critical for the success of a team.  Making sure that a team knows that they are traveling TOGETHER…that we are there to step gently on holy ground…that we are there to serve an institution, the Methodist Church, which was there so long before us and will continue to be there long after us. Team training reiterates the need for preparation before, reflection during and connection afterwards…that the time spent on those three can’t be too much or too long…it can only strengthen God’s work in front of all of us.

Share a brief story about the impact of volunteers.

Three Impacts of an UMVIM team: On the community where the teams serve I have seen houses built, food disseminated, immunizations given and prayers shared. The impact on the team member I see shoulders come down in rest, I see connections between scripture read and hands on ministry, and I see a shift in understanding the world from perspectives dramatically different from their own. The impact on me by an UMVIM team Every single team I’ve travelled with has shown me the strength of community, of letting go of judgement, of watching a team connect with each other and others and feel empowered. The impact of a team on me is watching each person’s gifts blossom into near fullness as they become immersed in faith and heart work.


On November 29: #GivingTuesday 2016, donations will be matched, dollar for dollar, up to $12,000. Please give generously to Advance #901875.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

{#GivingTuesday 2016} UMVIM, SEJ Board Member

This year, the UMVIM, SEJ Staff and Board has come together and pledged $12,000 of funds that will be matched, dollar for dollar, for every generous donation that is given on November 29: #GivingTuesday 2016. We believe our mission is big, and we also believe that we can't send trained, equipped volunteers into the field to show Christian Love in Action without the support of our community. 
This year, learn more from those who have personally experienced the impact of all UMVIM has to offer. Jane Dunn, UMVIM, SEJ Board of Directors Medical Chair was asked to share what UMVIM means to her. 


What challenges do volunteers have serving in Panama?

Coming from a culture with material wealth and many education opportunities, it is often a challenge for UMVIM Volunteers to listen and learn from those living in poor societies.  One such place exists in the jungle society of the primitive Ngabe people of Panama.

What differences do you see in teams whose leaders have been trained by UMVIM, SEJ?

As a trained UMVIM Team Leader that had been taught about cultural diversity and collaboration and returning to Panama for several consecutive years to partner with the Ngabe people, my first inclination was to decide on OUR plan for them and only provide short-term clinic services.  We soon learned through the input of our missionary host, Rev. Rhett Thompson, and local leaders that a partnership where Ngabe goals and needs were identified worked best. 

Share a brief story about the impact of volunteers

A three-part health promoter curriculum was developed to address issues of sanitation, disease transmission and maternal/sexual health.  Students volunteered or were selected by their communities to pariticipate.  Most of the students had marginal reading skills from either zero to up to 3rd grade level.  None had successfully completed a formal education program until they “graduated” from this 3 week course.

Through the formation of friendships and collaboration, over 22 Ngabe students have completed the course, of which over half continue to serve in their communities.  One trained health promoter who was explaining the program to visitors said, “Most people in our country just think we are dirty and ignorant, but…you (UMVIM Team) believed in us!”   What a blessing for our UMVIM group to be partners in a successful program that has blossomed under the direction of our Panama brothers and sisters.  God is Good…. All the Time!

On November 29: #GivingTuesday 2016, donations will be matched, dollar for dollar, up to $12,000. Please give generously to Advance #901875.