response: September/October 2020 Issue

God Provides

New Home Missioner David Kennedy adapts his lay servant ministry during a global health crisis.

God Provides
Home Missioner David Kennedy, in purple, does jumping jacks with children at the Lord's Mountain Orphanage in Zambezi District, Zambia.

Home Missioner David Kennedy is one of 32 new deaconesses and home missioners welcomed to the Order of Deaconess and Home Missioner with a special virtual service in May 2020. The name of his ministry is Gerard House, named after his friend Gerard, who died in 2013 after living on the streets for over 10 years.

“The spaces I’m residing now are at Lord’s Mountain Orphanage in the Zambia (virtually) and Capitol Hill United Methodist Church in Washington, D.C., with our unhoused neighbors and those on the margins of economic power,” Kennedy said.

He and his wife, Barbara, had planned to take a mission trip to the orphanage, a United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries project in the Zambezi District of Zambia, but due to the pandemic the trip was canceled.

“The mission trip will have to wait until next summer 2021, God willing,” he said. “A big initiative at the orphanage is to build a technology center in 2021 to serve both the orphanage and the broader community.”

Capitol Hill United Methodist hosts virtual services and provides “grab- and-go” food several times a week.

“So while our physical building is not open, the lights are still on, the church is still being the church, and I am blessed to see my friends and greet one another with virtual elbow bumps,” Kennedy said. “I shouldn’t be surprised—but of course, God has opened new doors to love, service and justice. And in some ways, God has provided me an even bolder voice to speak up and shout that love, service, and justice have never been more important.”

Kennedy said he finds hope in the words “God provides,” which Pastor Bernard Lumene, founder of Lord’s Mountain Orphanage, says frequently.

“I see it now. I still have angst that the most vulnerable are suffering the most during the COVID-19 pandemic, and those of us with certain privileges and power are more protected. I believe we have to name that and own it, and from there, we have to be wide open to listen to God and to act, as God requires.”

What does becoming a home missioner at this time mean to Kennedy?

He said, “Katelin Hansen, in her ‘commencement speech’ on May 4, challenged us to boldly name our order and calling. I agree. This is the perfect time to join this Order of Deaconess and Home Missioner. It’s also the perfect time to boldly name our calling of love, service and justice.”

Hansen is a newly welcomed deaconess as well who serves as the director of operations at Church and Community Development for All People, a United Methodist Women-supported national mission institution.

No matter how or where they serve, deaconesses and home missioners continue to fulfill their calls to ministries of love, justice, and service, as defined in ¶1913.1 of The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church: “To make Jesus Christ known in the fullness of his ministry and mission, which mandate that his followers alleviate suffering; eradicate causes of injustice and all that robs life of dignity and worth; facilitate the development of full human potential; and share in building global community through the church universal.”

Read more deaconess and home missioner profiles in the upcoming September/October issue of response magazine. Subscribe today!

Deaconess Laurel O’Connor Akin’s ministry is photography and writing for churches and nonprofit organizations.

Posted or updated: 10/21/2020 12:00:00 AM