Mission & History
Mission of UMVIM-NEJ
The United Methodist Volunteers in Mission (UMVIM) program is an ongoing ministry of the Northeastern Jurisdiction (NEJ). We exist to train, equip, connect, and mobilize volunteers to engage in short-term mission locally, nationally, and globally in fulfillment of the call to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Our motto is "Christian Love in Action", a reference to 1 John 3:18 - "Little children, let us love not in word or speech, but in truth and action."
UMVIM provides opportunities for service by developing and nurturing relationships with domestic and international leaders. We continually nurture our contacts with these leaders to respond to the needs of local communities and provide comprehensive training resources for team leaders to help them prepare their teams for the mission field.
The Northeastern Jurisdiction (NEJ) includes the 10 annual conferences located in the area from Maine to Washington D.C. to West Virginia – the New England, New York, Upper New York, Western Pennsylvania, Susquehanna, Eastern Pennsylvania, Greater New Jersey, West Virginia, Baltimore-Washington and Peninsula-Delaware Conferences.
History of UMVIM-NEJ
From the outset, NEJ UMVIM was coordinated by volunteers with Rev. Ken Jones as our leader in the 80’s and 90’s. In the late 1990’s, it became clear that a more formal organization was necessary as Ken prepared to step down. A committee formed to interview those who desired to become the next UMVIM Coordinator for the NEJ.
Greg Forrester was hired in 1999. He implemented mission and outreach ministries in local, national and international settings. He engaged extensively in developing training materials for volunteers and early response teams. In 2001, UMVIM-NEJ became a corporation. Greg stepped down from the NEJ coordinator position when hired to lead the church's US disaster response efforts through the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) beginning May 1, 2013. Greg currently serves as the Executive Director of the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD).
The Rev. Paul "Nick" Nicholas became the third Jurisdictional Coordinator, serving from 2013-2015. Nick was a veteran of dozens of mission journeys and had a particular passion for youth ministry and his hometown team, the Chicago Cubs. His personal connection and passion for mission endeared him to United Methodists across the Northeast. He has returned to youth ministry and is currently serving in the Chicago area.
The Rev. Tom Lank was hired in 2016 to continue the leadership of the UMVIM-NEJ and to shape its future. You can read his full bio here.
Today, the organization is committed to expanding the understanding of Volunteers in Mission from mercy to social justice and from construction/health/evangelism related activities to the full range of gifts that the Holy Spirit has endowed believers to share. There are programs to develop young leaders in each annual conference. In accordance with the Call to Action from the 2016 Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference, UMVIM-NEJ is also revamping its training materials and events to focus on dismantling systemic racism, white privilege, and white supremacy.
The NEJ VIM Board of Directors is made up of dedicated and "mission passionate" people. Each conference VIM Coordinator is part of the Board of Directors. Additionally, there are four officers who serve as an Executive Committee between meetings of the Board, and at-large and ex-officio members representing different mission constituencies in the NEJ. Board membership changes as conference VIM Coordinators change. VIM Coordinators work alongside the many volunteers in their respective conferences to share the mission stories, resources and educate others as how we must reach out into this hurting world with Christ’s love.