Preparing for international service

Twenty Presbyterian mission appointees complete orientation for assignments in Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America

August 23, 2013

LOUISVILLE

Seventeen new or reassigned Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) mission co-workers, along with three long-term volunteers, completed mission orientation last month and will begin international service in coming weeks. 

Mission co-workers beginning new assignments include:

Christi Boyd, who will begin a new position as regional facilitator for women’s and children ministry in Francophone (French-speaking) Africa.  Christi and her husband, Jeff, who have worked in African assignments since 1990, served most recently in Cameroon.  The Boyds will be moving to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which will be the home base for both Christi and Jeff, who continues his duties as regional liaison for Central Africa. Jeff and Christi are members of Crescent Hill Presbyterian Church in Louisville.

Amanda Craft and Omar Chan, who will be working in Guatemala and Mexico.  Amanda , a mission co-worker since 2009, has a new assignment as regional liaison for those two countries.  Previously, Amanda worked with the National Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Guatemala in the areas of women's leadership development and Christian education. Omar, her husband, has recently come under mission appointment and will assist Amanda in her new role. Amanda’s responsibilities, like those of other PC(USA) regional liaisons, will include building relationships with partner churches and organizations, supporting the work of other mission co-workers and implementing regional strategies. Amanda and Omar are members of Highland Presbyterian Church in Louisville.

Rev. Barry and Shelly Dawson, who will serve in Southeast Asia. Barry will be a regional liaison and Shelly will support him in that role.  They will be based in Thailand. Barry, a Presbyterian teaching elder, spent several years serving as pastor of international congregations in Oman, Japan, France, and the Netherlands. Shelly has served alongside him, and she worked as a registered nurse before moving overseas. Barry is a member of the South Dakota Presbytery, and Shelley is a member of the Protestant Church in Oman, the last church Barry served as pastor before entering mission service.

Rev. Janet Guyer, who is assuming a new position as regional facilitator for women and children’s ministries in Anglophone (English-speaking) Africa. Janet has been under mission appointment since 1989, serving first in Thailand and then moving to South Africa in 2002, where she served as a regional HIV/AIDS consultant. In her new role Janet will be based in Malawi.  She is a member of Pittsburgh Presbytery.

Brenda and Rev. Stephen Stelle, who will serve in Ethiopia. Brenda will teach English at Bethel Evangelical Secondary School in Dembi Dollo, an institution of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus (EECMY), and Stephen will work with the EECMY as a mentor/trainer of pastors. Before her mission appointment Brenda taught English on both the high school and college levels. Stephen was pastor of Faith Presbyterian Church in Hermitage, Pennsylvania. He is a member of Shenango Presbytery.

Leisa Wagstaff, who is leaving Cameroon for a new position in South Sudan.  Leisa has served under mission appointment as an educator in Africa since 1984. In her new position she will be an education consultant with the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan.  Leisa is a member of Old Mount Zion Baptist Church in Woodsdale, North Carolina.

Debbie and Richard Welch, who will serve as education consultants for indigenous peoples in Guatemala. They will work alongside the National Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Guatemala.  Before accepting mission assignments, Richard held a managerial position with Triumph Composite Systems, Inc., an aerospace manufacturing company in Spokane, Wash., and Debbie was a church administrator at Knox Presbyterian in Spokane, where the Welches are members. They also were active in the Inland Northwest Presbytery’s mission partnership in Guatemala.

Alethia and Ryan White, who will work with Iranian refugees in Germany as church development specialists and pastoral caregivers. They will serve alongside the Iranian Presbyterian Church in Berlin. Prior to entering mission service Alethia was the international coordinator for the California Institute of Technology’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. She also has been executive assistant for the Center for Anabaptist Leadership/Pacific Southwest Mennonite Conference. Alethia is a member of Pasadena Mennonite Church. Ryan, a former middle school math teacher, has served as a pastoral intern at Knox Presbyterian Church in Pasadena and as a high school youth director at his home congregation, Bethany Presbyterian in Seattle.   He is a candidate for ordination in Seattle Presbytery.

Rev. Gary and Marlene Van Brocklin, who will serve as regional liaisons in South Asia.  They come to their positions from the faculty of Montreat College, a Presbyterian-related school in North Carolina. In addition to teaching missiology in the United States, they have also served internationally in Bolivia and Peru.  Gary is a member of Western North Carolina Presbytery and Marlene is a member of New Vision Church in Conover, a new church development of Western North Carolina Presbytery.

Another couple, appointed as mission co-workers for service in the Middle East, cannot be identified due to security concerns.

The long-term volunteers who completed orientation include:

Rochelle and Tyler Holm, who began work in Malawi in 2012 and then applied to come under mission appointment as long-term volunteers. Rochelle serves at the University of Mzuzu, managing programs dedicated to providing safe water in northern Malawi and doing research related to water and sanitation. The university’s water programs work closely with the Central Church of Africa Presbyterian’s Synod of Livingstonia.  Tyler teaches at the University of Livingstonia’s College of Theology.  They are members of West Side Presbyterian Church in Richland, Wash. Tyler is working toward ordination with Central Washington Presbytery.

Meg Knight, who will serve as an English teacher in Rwanda. She will help the leaders of the Presbyterian Church of Rwanda gain more fluency in English. In recent years English has become an official language of the country and is also the language used in many ecumenical and Pan-African gatherings. Prior to entering mission service Meg worked for 19 years as a freelance writer, editor, and communications consultant. She is a member of First Presbyterian Church of Ballston Spa, New York.

Three people not under PC(USA) mission appointment also attended orientation in preparation for long-term assignments overseas. They are Mark Etzel, who will serve with St. Andrews Mission Secondary School in Malawi; Meredith Loftis, who will work with a theological education by extension program in Zambia; and Lisa Patriquin, who will serve with the Central Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church of Colombia.

  1. I think this missionary program would be great for you after your senior year.

    by Lori W. Godwin

    August 26, 2013

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