Must Read: International Mission Trip Tips

1/14/2019

North Georgia Conference churches send youth, adult, and intergenerational teams on international mission trips every year.

The good work of the teams (and within the teams) is multiplied when our United Methodist best practices are in place. Adequate insurance, following Safe Sanctuaries policies, and taking other planning and protection into account mean that best-case scenarios are even better and worst-case scenarios aren't a crisis.

United Methodist Volunteers in Mission is our partner in the process. 

"Here in North Georgia we have have 14 UMVIM trainers available to assist congregations," said Rev. Scott Parrish, Associate Director of Congregational Excellence. "Plus, Lynette Brown out of Northside UMC is our conference UMVIM coordinator."
 

6 Must-Do Safeguards for Your International Mission Trip

  1. Register your team with UMVIM SEJ and be sure at least the team leader is UMVIM trained. 
  2. Partner with United Methodists or Methodists in the nation where you're traveling. Serve with them when possible and always making them aware of your presence.
    Scott says: "Would we want Methodists from another place arriving to do ministry in our community acting as if we weren't there? Of course not."
  3. Make sure every team member has adequate and appropriate insurance.
    Scott says: "Typically, most insurance policies do not cover international travel, or may not cover at the recommended rate. There are nightmare stories of injury and death on church mission trips and the family being seriously impacted by both the death and the financial difficulty of no insurance and the steep costs of evacuation." 
  4. Every member of the team must be vetted and abide by Safe Sanctuaries policies. These policies are designed to make church programming safe and welcoming for children and vulnerable adults.
    Scott says: "We are adamant about churches following Safe Sanctuaries in ALL their ministry and missions."
  5. Take advantage of our Methodist connectional structure if there is a problem. For example, who at higher levels in our structure can assist your team and congregation if there are problems?
    Scott says: "UMVIM and our North Georgia Conference staff can advocate and assist if we know in advance that a team is serving overseas. For instance, we are aware of evacuation procedures if the trip is during hurricane season (think how many church teams go to a Caribbean island or Central America in the summer). Related to this, we also strongly encourage registering with the US State Department."
  6. Take advantage of our connectional mission for networking with other teams. We can do better together, and there are times it can help both our team and our host if we better coordinate with a sister church.
    Scott says: "There are many, many other congregations in mission and we can learn from and assist others."
“Give me a call and I can let you know if there are other North Georgia teams serving in the country where your team is going. We can even go beyond North Georgia and identify other teams serving in the same country by contacting our SE Jurisdiction UMVIM office," said Lynette. "We can do more together than we can do alone.”

Find more information at the UMVIM website http://umvim.org/


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