As 175 years of mission-sending were commemorated, international mission supporters were pointed toward the future at the Presbyterian World Mission luncheon on Thursday (July 5) at the 220th General Assembly.

It’s a future that will include a focus on three critical global issues identified by Presbyterian World Mission and stepped-up efforts to increase the number of Young Adult Volunteers (YAV) sent into service, said the Rev. Hunter Farrell, director of Presbyterian World Mission.

The three critical global issues are addressing issues of poverty—particularly as it affects women and children—sharing the good news of God’s love in Jesus Christ and working for reconciliation amid cultures of violence.

Presbyterian World Mission needs the support and wisdom of people throughout the church in order to move forward, Farrell said. “We need the church’s help to determine how we can be more faithful and effective in God’s mission.”

He noted that World Mission has invited grassroots Presbyterians involved in mission, mission personnel and global partners to Dallas on Oct. 7-9, 2012, to discuss strategies needed to tackle the critical global issues. All Presbyterians, he said, are encouraged to give their input through a recently launched blog.

Presbyterian World Mission is also looking to increase participation of young people in mission by tripling the size of the YAV program by 2017, Farrell said. Last year, about 70 YAVs were sent to serve for one year in communities of need in the United States and around the world. Another YAV class will attend orientation next month.

“It’s been a conduit for us to reach young people in the church who want to participate in God’s mission,” Farrell said. He called the experience, which is for people between the ages of 19 and 30, “a year of service for a lifetime of change.”

Farrell said that more and more Presbyterians are stepping forward to support Presbyterian World Mission and that the need for prayer and financial contributions is ongoing. “With your help we can recruit and train some of the best mission workers to serve with some of the best global partners,” he said.

As it looks toward the future, Farrell said that Presbyterian World Mission continues to draw on its past. The goal, he said, is to work for “a world of greater justice and peace for all of God’s people.”

In his remarks to the luncheon, the Rev. Roger Dermody, General Assembly Mission Council’s deputy executive director for mission, expressed gratitude for Presbyterian World Mission’s heritage. “It’s something that has been entrusted to us,” Dermody said. “We must be stewards of these relationships, resources and partners.”

In 1837, the General Assembly founded the Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A., a predecessor of Presbyterian World Mission. A video shown during the luncheon noted that 94 million Christians around the world belong to churches that were founded by Presbyterian missionaries.

Near the luncheon’s close, Nancy Cavalcante, coordinator of Presbyterian World Mission’s mission personnel team, urged attendees to help with the recruitment of mission workers. They can assist, she said, by identifying and encouraging people who might be gifted for mission service.

Mission opportunities are available in China, Colombia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Peru, Rwanda and other countries, she said.