I came to study at Pittsburgh Seminary with a strong commitment to world mission already, and was eager to get involved with World Mission Initiative. My three WMI trips sharpened my theology and biblical course work and clarified my sense of call in ministry. When I graduated with my MDiv from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary in 2006, I remember telling Glendora Paul that I would love to have a job like Don Dawson, the program’s director! She smiled, patted my arm, and said, “I’ll pray for that.” So when I was invited to join the staff of WMI later that year, I was confident that God was sending me into this ministry. I am so thankful that WMI sent me as a student, and grateful to have participated in sending many other students into God’s mission in these past 10 years!
I am just one testimony out of so many who have been shaped by a WMI trip. WMI is celebrating 20 years of transformational ministry at Pittsburgh Seminary. It was April 15, 1996, that the first mission consultation took place here which established the vision, network, and funding for World Mission Initiative. Mission leaders from the Seminary, local congregations, and the Presbyterian Worldwide Ministries Division gathered to discuss how to ignite participation and commitment to God’s global mission from the church. The way became clear to host this innovative program at Pittsburgh Seminary where it could influence future pastors and leaders for the church. This initial meeting planted seeds which grew into WMI’s commitments to develop mission vision, nurture missionary vocations, and cultivate missional congregations.
Reflecting on this commitment, Don Dawson says, “World Mission Initiative has had the privilege of introducing seminarians and church leaders to brothers and sisters in Christ around the world as a means of equipping them to lead missionally in the places they serve. WMI’s purpose is not only to participate in God’s mission and encourage global partners, but also to help our churches better live their missional vocation as the sent people of God.”
Over the years World Mission Initiative has sent more than 300 Seminary students into faith-stretching and ministry-shaping global mission experiences with more than $350,000 of scholarship support! Initially, WMI sent one or two students on occasion. And now, in partnership with local congregations we are regularly planning four to six different group mission experiences, with more than 50 participants annually. The majority of the students have gone on to lead congregations with a greater global mission vision and commitment. And a significant number of those students have gone into missionary vocations, serving in diverse regions and ministries with long-term commitment.
Each one of those 300+ students would gladly say, “Thank you for sending me!”
I invite you to celebrate this milestone year of ministry for WMI by giving a gift to our “Send Me” campaign to raise funds for student travel scholarships. Please consider giving “$20-for-20-years” or whatever amount you are able to contribute towards our $5,000 goal. Your gift is to support Seminary students, who each receive scholarship support up to $1,000 when they are sent on a WMI trip.
I am grateful for the strong financial support WMI has received through these 20 years that have made my mission trip experiences and many others possible! I trust that God will continue to bless us as we develop mission vision, nurture missionary vocations, and cultivate missional congregations.
The Rev. Jennifer Haddox ’06 is associate director of the Seminary’s World Mission Initiative.
P.S. It’s not too late to participate in the WMI Conference, April 8-9, 2016. “Recalibrating the Church for the 21st Century” features Alan Hirsch, a well-respected voice in the missional church conversation. In this anniversary year, we will also include a celebration at the concluding dinner Sat., April 9 at 5:00 p.m. Information and registration is available on our website, www.worldmissioninitiatve.org, or by phone, 412-924-1449. Please come and join us!