The historic relationships the United Church of Christ has forged during the last 100 years with partner churches and organizations in Eastern Asia will be in the custody of a new caretaker. Derek Duncan, who has been with Global Ministries, the combined international ministry between the UCC and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), since 2000, begins a new role as executive of that region on July 3.
"I've grown increasingly close to our partners in East Asia and the Pacific as I've worked with them over the years on shared advocacy priorities," Duncan said. "Peace and reunification in Korea, human rights in the Philippines, and supporting vital communities of faith in China, Japan and throughout the entire region will continue to be concerns we address through our partnerships."
"This region and the communities our partners serve are significant to the life of our churches. Many of our members, conferences, and regions have developed deep friendships with global partners, or have family and community connections in the region," he added. "I look forward to continue working with our friends in East Asia and the Pacific and our congregations here to strengthen those connections and to build active and fruitful partnerships."
Global Ministries has partners and projects in Mongolia, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, Australia, New Zealand, Micronesia, Fiji and the Marshall Islands — which includes 16 mission co-workers in seven of those countries. Some of the alliances — such as the relationship with Doshisha University in Japan — are more than a century old.
"I am deeply committed to the relationships that the UCC and Disciples have nurtured in the region, and to the values of mutual trust and support that Global Ministries affirms which sustain those relationships," said Duncan, who studied religion, politics and Christian-Muslim relations at Harvard Divinity School, and American religious history at Vanderbilt University.
The Rev. James A. Moos, executive minister of the UCC's Wider Church Ministries and co-executive of Global Ministries, said that Duncan brings nearly two decades of international experience to the position.
"Derek has been has been a valued member of the Global Ministries staff for the past 17 years occupying the position of associate for global advocacy and education, where he has played a key role in justice advocacy," Moos said. "Derek brings to the position a breadth and depth of global experience, including in the East Asia and Pacific region where he has worked extensively."
Duncan will succeed the Rev. Xiaoling Zhu, who is retiring June 30 as the East Asia and Pacific area executive to spend time with his children and grandchildren.
"While Xiaoling will be sorely missed by his colleagues and our global partners, we are grateful for his long and faithful service," said the Rev. James Moos and the Rev. Julia Brown Karimu, co-executives of Global Ministries. "He joined Global Ministries in 2000, and for the past 17 years he has worked with commitment, integrity and passion. The impact of Xiaoling’s labors among our partners will be felt for generations to come."