Mar 28, 2017

The Rev. Greg Ellis and other Eastern PA Conference mission volunteers are at Pocono Plateau Camp & Retreat Center hosting peers from across the Northeastern Jurisdiction this week. They are attending the NEJ’s combined UM Volunteers in Mission (UMVIM) and UM Committee on Relief (UMCOR) 2017 Training Academy. It started Sunday, March 26 and ends Wednesday, March 29, at noon.

Bishop Johnson joined and welcomed the gathering, which is focusing this year on racism, bias and privilege as part of its training. This year’s academy is exploring how those challenges play out in the real world of disaster response and mission work. Their theme is “Confronting Race and Privilege,” and representatives from the General Commission on Race and Religion are helping to guide and equip them in discussions that relate to their work in Mission and Disaster Response.

“We hope participants will walk away with not only a basic knowledge and understanding of disaster response and mission work,” said Ellis, “but also an improved awareness of and commitment to improving relationships in those areas where we do our ministry.”

The 2017 UMVIM/UMCOR Training Academy is designed to provide continuing education and preparation for mission leaders and disaster response leaders at the local church, district, or conference level. Approximately 100 people gather each Spring to gear up for ministry in God’s Kingdom.

This year’s courses include:

  • Foundations of Disaster Response
  • Early Response Team Train-the-Trainer
  • ERT 200: Site Assessment
  • ERT 200: Team Leader / UMVIM Team Leader in US Disaster Response
  • UMCOR’s Connecting Neighbors Curriculum (4 course sequence)
  • Incident Coordination and Communication
  • Disaster Spiritual & Emotional Caregiving


  • Information Communication Technology for Development, led by UMCom
  • Asset-Based Community Response, led by Phil Hissom of the Polis Institute
  • Global Health Mission in the 21st Century, led by Dr. Olusimba Ige, GBGM Director of Global Health
  • Introduction to the Center for Mission Innovation at GBGM
  • Workshops by the General Commission on Race and Religion and GBGM

For more information contact the Rev. Tom Lank, NEJ Coordinator for UMVIM at or 919-428-0461, or contact the Rev. Greg Ellis at

NOTE: The Rev. Tom Lank will facilitate a UMVIM Team Leaders Training event this Saturday, April 1, from 9 AM to 3:30 PM, at Ardmore UMC. The $35 cost includes training materials and lunch. As an ordained Deacon in the Greater New Jersey Annual Conference, Tom specializes in missions and peace with justice ministries. He has organized mission journeys to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, five Caribbean and Central American countries and nine U.S. states.

Who Should Attend?
If you are interested in learning more about being a UMVIM team leader or hosting mission teams this training is designed for you. Team Leader Training is recommended for all first time United Methodist Volunteers In Mission team leaders, but all interested persons are welcome to attend whether leading a team or not.

Registration online at the Eastern PA website:

PHOTO: Attending the UMVIM/UMCOR Academy at Pocono Plateau this week are (from left): the Rev. Greg Ellis, Linda Drake, Ben Botti, Bishop Peggy Johnson, Pat Braun, the Rev. Rick Rimert and the Rev. Sarah Fernsler.