Synod delegates commemorate 200 years of mission
Written by Diane Weible and W. Evan Golder
July 4, 2011

Wider Church Ministries staff planted a tree, symbolizing the roots of the past and growth into the future, at First United Church of Tampa on Tuesday. From left: Mary Schaller Blaufuss, WCM; Lewis Ellsworth, gardener at First UCC; Derek Duncan, WCM; and Marcy Dory with baby Zykhar, WCM. (photo Evan Golder)

General Synod 28 marked the mid-point of two years of celebrating the 200th anniversary of America’s first foreign missionary society.

Wider Church Ministries staff showed delegates a special video, “200 Years of Mission;”  planted a crepe myrtle tree at  First United Church of Tampa; and introduced a new Pilgrim Press book by Mary Schaller Blaufuss on WCM’s most recent 25 years.

In addition, a time line display in the exhibition hall traced the history of mission from the famous “Haystack Meeting” in 1806. Then, five students at Williams College, Mass., took shelter under a haystack during a rainstorm. Joining in prayer, they pledged themselves to volunteer in mission.

That led to the formation in 1810 of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Mission, a historic predecessor to Wider Church Ministries.

The video featured seven young adults involved in mission today: Charu Vijayakumar and Betsy Sturbens, two missionary interns working with the Young Adults Service Program; Max and Richard Brooke, twin brothers who traveled around the country documenting volunteers working to help others; Ellen Channel, a missionary in Durbin, South Africa; Aaron Wiggins, a missionary in Fiji; and Patrick Bentrott, a missionary in Haiti.

“That vision of mission initiated 200 years ago by five imaginative young people is carried proudly forward by young people in this church today,” said Synod Moderator Jim Robertson. “Imagine what’s possible for the next 200 years.”