|(Second from left) Jonathan McCurley, a Global Minstries' missionary serving the Asian Rural Institute in Japan, and Melissa Crutchfield, UMCOR's associate general secretary (center), during a visit to the institute in 2012. Photo: James Rollins|
UMCOR Associate General Secretary Melissa Crutchfield greets Asian Rural Institute on the occasion of the institute’s 40th anniversary of founding in Togichi, Japan,
September 16, 2013.
Good morning! It is an honor for me to have the opportunity to bring you greetings from the United Methodist Committee on Relief and the General Board of Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church. As one member of an esteemed group of international ecumenical supporters of the Asian Rural Institute, it is truly an honor for me to be here with you this morning, celebrating 40 years of a ministry that represents our common calling to love, empower, and encourage all God’s people while promoting dignity, justice and peace across the globe.
The United Methodist Committee on Relief (known as UMCOR) and Global Ministries have a particularly special relationship with ARI, starting from the very beginning. We have a “shared DNA” – ARI’s founder Takami-sensei had a close friendship and collaboration with former UMCOR staffer Harry Haines, and ARI has since been the host of numerous United Methodist mission interns, Global Justice Volunteers, missionaries (hi, Jonathan!), and participants.
As the humanitarian relief and development organization for The United Methodist Church, UMCOR’s natural partnership with ARI was renewed and strengthened in the aftermath of 3/11, when we were called together to rebuild the buildings and the lives of so many affected by the triple disaster. Sharing our stories of this time of recovery also enabled us to lift up the good work of ARI and raise awareness and funding for scholarships and other important support for their mission. This immense tragedy presented us with a true blessing and opportunity in disguise, and has really deepened our relationship with ARI in such a meaningful way.
Those small seeds planted 40 years ago, wishing to promote ecumenical partnership and cooperation from a base in Japan through agricultural training and outreach, have grown into a flourishing crop of alumni and partners from all over the world and from all walks of life. It is humbling for us to know we have been a part of something which has touched so many lives and so successfully embodied our shared mission. On behalf of your ecumenical partners, congratulations to ARI on your growing legacy and the impact you are making all over the world. And on behalf of all for your ecumenical partners, thank you again for letting us be a part of it.