Bridges initiative connects people, churches and nations
By GLENN HANNIGAN
Not long ago, legislators in Washington were mocked for funding a “bridge to nowhere.” It was cited as a prime example of governmental waste and abuse.
In the North Georgia Conference, building Bridges to everywhere has an entirely different connotation. It has become a symbol of cooperation, inspiration and global effectiveness. Less than three years in existence, North Georgia’s Bridges initiative has grown significantly faster than conference leaders had originally planned.
“We thought we might unfold a new Bridge each year,” said Mike Selleck, director of Connectional Ministries. “In less than three years there are seven or eight Bridges we are coordinating with new initiatives being planned. I think this is a clear sign that our churches want to be engaged in missions.”
The Bridges initiative was envisioned as a way to help coordinate mission efforts and to make it easier for churches to become involved in a thoughtful, systematic manner. It also helps churches, and individuals, work more effectively and connect with one another. Bridges encourages partnerships between the North Georgia Conference and nine annual conferences, churches and agencies around the world.
Churches, or individuals, can become involved in a variety of ways, from becoming prayer partners, offering financial support, or going on a mission trip.
“A lot of local churches, or individuals, want to be involved in mission projects but don’t always know how to get started,” Selleck said. “Our idea was, if we could provide a catalogue of opportunities that have been vetted, we could help local churches connect in a very concrete way.”
The inspiration for Bridges came in February 2010 when Bishop Mike Watson led a group of clergy and laity to Uganda to explore a partnership with United Methodists in that nation. They returned from that trip inspired and convicted to create an effective, ongoing effort.
Though Bridges is a North Georgia initiative, all projects are filtered through the General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM). And Bridges is not limited to international outreach. Action Ministries is coordinating Bridges efforts that are focused in our local communities.
“We rely on GBGM to help keep our missions accountable,” Selleck said. “We are working hand-in-hand with it as well as with World Methodist Evangelism. And Action Ministries is coordinating our local efforts.”
Currently, Bridges’ international efforts are focused on: Uganda, El Salvador, the Bahamas, Russia, Portugal, Israel and the Philippines.
This fall, three Bridges teams will be at work in Russia, El Salvador and Portugal.
A full catalogue, including contact information, can be found at www.ngumc.org/bridges.
North Georgia churches, small groups and individuals are invited to take part in a Bridge by going on a mission trip, praying for the ministry or giving to one of the supported projects. If you, your church or your group are interested in being a part of any of the Bridges efforts, simply contact Mike Selleck at firstname.lastname@example.org for information.