Friday, May 30, 2014

Red Bird Missionary Conference

"So what does it mean to be on a mission from God? It is love in motion. It is the  people of God-you and me-being the feet and hands of God, wherever He calls us  to be." - Rev. Steven Riddle, Red Bird Missionary Conference UMVIM Coordinator

The Appalachian Mountain range is one of the most breathtaking places in our  entire country. However, this beautiful scenery serves as a backdrop to one of its poorest regions. Poverty, lack of jobs and substandard housing are just some of the deep-seated problems that this rural, 
outlying region has faced for generations. Red Bird Missionary Conference is one of the three missionary conferences of the United Methodist Church, which simply means that it operates in a geographical region where local resources cannot always meet the needs of those whom it serves. It provides a Christian presence in these communities and offers a multitude of sustainable programs, services and initiatives that do not merely put a bandage over the problem, but rather seeks to address issues at their core to foster hope and promote change.

UMVIM, SEJ has been sending teams to this region for many years, and Executive Director Paulette West had the pleasure of attending their 2014 Annual Conference. In this newsletter you will learn more about the wonderful things that are happening within the Conference, and we hope that you will prayerfully consider leading a team here. 

Red Bird Mission
Red Bird Mission is one of the four mission institutions that serve within the Red Bird Missionary Conference. Since its founding in 1921, it has grown to encompass K-12 education and early childhood development, a retail industry comprised of craft and community stores, senior and elderly programs, health and wellness education, literacy opportunities, women and children ministries, community housing and more. The tasks are numerous and the need is strong, but the community is responsive and change is happening.

Henderson Settlement
Also operating within the conference is Henderson Settlement. If you have served here before, you probably have had the good fortune of working with Jerry Lambdin, the Director of Mission Outreach. Below is a short video of Jerry talking more about how Henderson came into existence nearly 100 years ago! Starting as far back as the 1960s, Henderson has been waging war on poverty, even at times working side by side with the federal government. Programs have grown over the decades to include everything from libraries and health services to youth ministries and recycling programs that both raise money and address the area's widespread litter problem. 

Stories From The Field
Judy Wilson of North Webster, Indiana has been part of UMVIM teams with her church and family for many years at Henderson Settlement, working mostly on home improvement projects. But several years ago, she and her team began meeting a need that can often be forgotten in the shuffle of hammers and paintbrushes of a typical work mission. They set up a makeshift beauty salon and began offering hair cut and manicure services to the local women, even sending with them on their way with bags of shampoos, toothbrushes and other toiletries. It seems like a simple thing, but many of these women had never been cared for in this way. Over the years her group has continued to grow this ministry and bless the local women and their families by not only providing them with a way to feel lovely and cared for, but also by nurturing these relationships and establishing long-lasting friendships. Below is a short video of Judy explaining the impact of their beauty salon ministry and what a mutual blessing it has become.

How Can YOU Get Involved?
So glad you asked! Each year, Red Bird Mission Annual Conference, Red Bird Mission, and Henderson Settlement hosts thousands of short-term volunteers. They engage with the community and serve in a number of ways, especially with necessary home repairs and improvements for those who cannot financially cover them on their own. These volunteers serve as extensions of the body of Christ by donating their resources, time and energy to the multitude of sustainable programs that institutions within Red Bird Missionary Conference have put in place. UMVIM provides Team Leader Training and extensive resources, includingteam health insurance coverage, to those who answer the call to serve in this impoverished area. If you feel called to lead a team to this challenged yet hopeful region, please find all of the opportunities within the conference on our SEJ Mission Opportunity List. You may also contact Conference UMVIM Coordinator Steven Riddle directly. 

Bonus Videos
Rev. Steven Riddle, Conference UMVIM Coordinator
Below you can watch both parts of Rev. Riddle's UMVIM presentation at this year's Red Bird Annual Conference. He also shares about the importance of short-term volunteerism and the mutual way in which it benefits both the volunteer and those they serve. 

Tim Henderson, Facilities Director
Tim grew up in New York state, where he put down roots with his career, his family and his church. For years he avoided Volunteers in Mission because he couldn't quite understand "doing work for free." With a last name of Henderson, he finally decided that was God calling him to go down to Kentucky and see what Volunteers in Mission is all about. Watch this video to hear how his time at Henderson Settlement changed the course of his life completely, and how the Lord has continued to bless his decision to follow God into the rural mission field. 

The Lambs, Individual Volunteers
Click here to watch a video from Bill and Ruth Ann Lamb of Fairborn, Ohio, two retirees who for 7 years they have spent entire seasons serving the people within the Red Bird Missionary Conference. Watch and see why they return year after year with other retirees, who have become like a second family to them.

More Videos on our YouTube Channel!UMVIM, SEJ Executive Director Paulette West had the opportunity to speak with a number of volunteers and employees who serve within the Red Bird Missionary Conference. We have uploaded her interviews on our YouTube Channel and hope you will take a few minutes to hear more from these people who have made this ministry such a huge part of their lives.

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