1.UMVIM is an approved United Methodist ministry.

2. The mission projects are vetted and screened.

3. Volunteer teams can continue their relationship with the project site they served at via The Advance and missionaries.

4. All are welcome to serve.

5. Training, forms, insurance, etc. available

6. It's simple. Contact umvimwj@hotmail.com to get started!

Faith in Action

Faith in Action

Friday, March 13, 2009

UMVIM & Mexico - Is It Safe for Volunteers?

In light of all the reports about the drug cartel violence in the border areas of Mexico, volunteers have many questions as to the safety of serving there. The following are two statements. The first is from Bishop Raul Garcia de Ochoa who is the Bishop of the Eastern Conference in Mexico. The second statement comes from the Desert Southwest Annual Conference and represents not only this conference's stance on volunteers and Mexico but also the General Board of Global Ministries's opinion as well.

From Bishop Raul Garcia de Ochoa:

Dear friends, I write just a few words to you to greet you in the name of Christ our Lord. In the last weeks, our government has made a much more decisive campaingn against drug cartels in our country. These actions, as expected, have provoked a violent reaction from the side of drug dealers. This, in turn, being publicized by the media, makes people in the US to think that it is wholy insecure being in Mexico.

The truth is that our government is working hard to keep our country clean of this evil and it is impossible to avoid the clashing of forces. Nevertheless, the general athmosphera in society is at calm. In spite of the finantial crisis which permeates in the globe, our industry, commerce, tourism, and other areas of development keep operating as usual. We have never had a single problem with one of the visiting teams. Scheduled activities are done in such a way that we take no chances for risk, the travel routes are totally safe. Nationals are always with every team. We instruct teams to stay together and we provide directions that make their visit most pleasant for all and fruitful for God´s kingdom. Incidents in our midst are in average just as incidents in any other place.We trust that you will continue to support the ministries you have considered. Our people and churches are open to receive you even in their homes. Our partnership is one of God´s means to continue to heal both the Church and the world. "May the Lord bless you and keep you."

- Raúl García de Ochoa, Bishop

Mexico Eastern Conference

From: Desert Southwest Annual Conference
1. We are called to be in ministry "in all the places we can … at all the times we can … as often as we can …." (Paraphrasing John Wesley).

2. The Desert Southwest Conference does not say "YES" or NO" with regard to going or taking UMVIM teams to Mexico. Each ADULT person who wishes to be in ministry in Mexico is accountable for their own decision on whether to go or not to go – based on their personal knowledge of the risks and their own level of comfort with those risks.

3. We want (and are called) to continue doing God's work through our bi-lateral ministry with our colleagues in Mexico. (This may include alternative ways to be in ministry). But of primary importance is the safety and welfare of our people.

4. According to legal counsel, "What the Desert Southwest Conference and specific UMC churches do will be judged in the context of what other entities have done. For example, "If a government entity, which is considered to have dependable knowledge about safety and security, is taking drastic steps … then it is prudent for us to take similar steps."

5. It is a team leader’s responsibility to provide as much information as possible to all team members regarding the level of potential danger so that each member may make a fully-informed decision on whether or not to travel into Mexico based on their individual level of comfort in the face of those risks. The latest information, dated February 20, 2009, can be found at http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis.pa.tw/pa/pa_3028.html. Additional information is available by initiating a search using "Travel Warnings – Mexico" as parameters.

6. Team leaders should maintain a record of what information is provided to whom, date and time. Further, those persons electing to go should sign a statement indicating that they have been advised of potential risks, but he or she is choosing to participate and signs a "hold harmless agreement" (liability release).

7. Team leaders should also insure that all members apply for and have the UMVIM Accident Insurance and that they understand what this insurance covers – and equally important what it does not cover. (These two forms are available in the UMVIM Training Manual which was issued by The UMC (GBGM). (And one may wish to consider purchasing trip insurance).
And finally – the DSC highly discourages including youth members on UMVIM teams going to Mexico until the situation becomes more stable.