Conference-wide policy proposed for Volunteers In Mission
Oklahoma Volunteers In Mission is proposing a wide-ranging policy document for its work going forward.
The proposal will be presented for consideration at Annual Conference. Detailed on pages 71-73 of the Pre-Conference Workbook, the plan was first mentioned at last year’s conference.
The policy defines a short-term mission team as any mission group that travels outside Oklahoma for any length of time or any mission group serving in Oklahoma for two nights or more, explained OKVIM Director Jeremy Basset.
The proposed policy will require churches to register their short-term mission groups with the Conference VIM office, ensure properly trained and certified leaders are in charge of the teams, and confirm that appropriate insurance has been obtained for their teams.
"The heart of this proposal," said Rev. Basset, "is to ensure ongoing excellence in our short-term mission program within our Conference.
"As we have asked—and received enthusiastic support from—our local churches to assume more organizational oversight of their own teams, it has become important to make sure we are all working together in the best possible way for the benefit of those we serve and those who are sent in service."
The increasing number of teams being sent in mission has meant the Conference OKVIM staff can no longer coordinate the project details for every team. The office has, thus, reshaped its work to focus on training leaders, setting standards for teams representing the denomination, and ensuring safety and proper liability coverage for teams in the field.
The OKVIM office also remains active in promoting VIM and being a resource for teams and team leaders, to find suitable places to serve and share up-to-date information about the various project sites.
"We see the proposed policy document as a framework to maintain the integrity of our work in Christ’s name, while letting each local church determine where its people feel God is calling them to work," Basset noted.
"Ultimately, effective participation in God’s mission is the work of the local church, not the Conference office. So, enabling churches to take ownership of this ministry, while using our strong connectional system to oversee what churches cannot do alone, ensures that we in OKVIM do what we can best to support this ministry."
"Travel and service in the name of The United Methodist Church is an increasingly complex issue that demands our attention and the development of best practices," remarked Brian Bakeman, Conference treasurer.
"This proposal, while aimed at ensuring we do mission with maximum effectiveness, also protects the Church and team participants by clearly placing on record what it is that constitutes an OKVIM team under the oversight of our Conference."
(Editor’s note: The document also can be viewed online. Search for "Pre-Conference Workbook" at www.okumc.org. )