Missions Partners

He has shown all you people what is good.

And what does the LORD require of you?

To act justly and to love mercy

and to walk humbly with your God.

(Micah 6:8)

 Our Partners in Missions

First Church has a wide variety of partners in mission throughout the city, region, and world. We have had the privilege of developing and joining some outstanding ministries in God’s work. Each of our partners in mission have provided us an opportunity to act justly and to love mercy, meeting people’s needs with the love of God.

This page will take you on a journey to meet all of our Mission Partners from this past year. Please call any of the ministry contacts listed for more information or to get involved.

Our giving to missions has increased dramatically over the past few years. That means that we have more possibilities than ever before to invest in God’s work all over the world!

In 2011, the Mission Team invited each small group in the church (Sunday Schools, Women’s Circles, Youth Groups, etc.) to join together to discover where God would have us at FUMC partner with others in Christ.  Across the church, people prayed, discussed, dreamed, and filled out their “passports” with passions for mission.  The Mission Team grew during this time, as more people had the desire to have active roles in the discernment of mission partnerships.  After collecting the passports, the team went through a process of noting where the heart of our church was being drawn.  Several places and people were brought up among several small groups, and we invested the largest portions of Faith Promise funds in those areas.  We are continuing to invest in our long term partnerships, such as Nabil Samara in Israel and Kaupo Kant in Estonia.  We also saw new areas of interest and sought new partnerships.  We tied together interests where we could and have observed where our members have invested their prayers, presence, gifts and service throughout 2012.  We have created a tier system that prioritizes the ministries that we have already committed to support, those that we know we want to support but have yet to determine a level of funding, and also situations like disaster recovery where we may not yet know what level of support will be required.  As our partnerships have grown, so have our mission funds.  The amount of funding for missions received this past year exceeded the pledged amount and is at the highest level in the history of the church!  Thank  you for your commitment to giving out of your faith that God will provide.


Aldersgate Camp and Retreat Center provides facilities and programs for faith development for people of all ages. A multitude of FUMC members have served at the camp to build one of its retreat cottages, decorate for Christmas season, as summer camp staff and volunteers, and in a variety of other ways.  www.aldersgatecamp.org

Contact Sandy Shafer: (859) 277-0345

Habitat for Humanity serves hard-working, low-income families who are currently living in sub-standard and/or overcrowded conditions, meet Habitat’s homeownership requirements, and would not be served by traditional lending agencies.  Members of FUMC, many times alongside members of Lexington’s other UM churches, have built 19 homes through the years.  The Lexington UMC Habitat build usually starts in mid to late summer. Skilled and non-skilled workers are always needed to help with the various phases of home construction.  FUMC has historically been one of the largest local supporters of the UMC Habitat build, both financially and in number of volunteers.


Contact Bill McKinney: (859) 224-4609

God’s Pantry is a local ministry that aims to reduce hunger in Kentucky by collecting food donations and distributing them to Kentucky’s hungry. Our congregation has a long history of support at God’s Pantry through food collections, and several members who have served as volunteers and on staff.  The Seasons of Life Circle coordinates a Backpack Ministry that is providing food for students at the end of each week at two different schools in Lexington.  This insures that their family will have meals over the weekend.


Contact Cindy Dominick: (859) 296-4828

Kentucky Refugee Ministries assists in the resettlement of refugees who have come to Kentucky as victims of warfare or political or religious persecution.  KRM also supports translation efforts through teaching English and teaching about American culture.  Our Andover campus recently sponsored an Iraqi family, providing necessary help for the family to integrate to its new life in Lexington.  www.kyrm.org

Contact Dabney Parker (859) 317-9517

Lexington Rescue Mission provides Christ-centered service to the poor and homeless of Lexington, meeting physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. FUMC has partnered with LRM nearly since its beginnings in 2001, including a kitchen renovation in 2003 and several members who regularly volunteer at the mission.  www.lexingtonrescue.org

Contact John Elder: (859) 873-4237

Redemption House  is a faith-based, sober living house that provides a safe and stable living environment for women in recovery.  The house is sponsored by Hope Springs Community Church, a church plant of FUMC ten years ago.  While a resident, women are expected to find employment, work a recovery program, and grow in their spiritual walk.

Contact Cindy Buck: (859) 224-4023

Room in the Inn (RITI) opens our church’s doors to Lexington’s homeless and hungry.  FUMC was one of the 4 founding congregations of Room in the Inn in 2004. The program provides winter shelter for homeless men while fostering one-to-one relationships between Hosts and Guests. One night each week, we provide a safe, warm, and comfortable place for Guests to sleep, a hot meal in the evening, and a breakfast and sack lunch in the morning. This past season, FUMC hosted two nights to allow the program to expand from serving 15 guests per night to 30.  www.roomintheinn.net

Contact Peggy Ray


God’s Table began out of our desire to continue in relationship with the RITI men throughout the summer months. Every third Tuesday of the month, we host a potluck-style meal in our fellowship hall. The meal now regularly hosts over 100 men, women and children from the area each third Tuesday of the month.

Contact: Melinda Kemp





Morehead State University Wesley Foundation reaches out to college students with the gospel of Jesus Christ.  This year, FUMC gave funding to help with improvements and repairs to the building and facilities.  Several of our members serve on the board of directors of this Wesley Foundation, and there is a strong connection to many of our members and staff.

Contact Jeff Miller: (859) 273-7393

Volunteers in Mission (VIM) – Disaster Relief and Recovery Teams respond to local, regional, and national disasters and send relief-work teams to areas of need.  An active team of volunteers developed at FUMC after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. We have since sent teams to multiple sites.  In the past 4 years, teams have traveled to Pascagoula (twice), Gulfport and McComb in Mississippi, Galveston, TX, and several other locations within the city and state.  This past year, a team traveled to Apison, TN to assist members of the community in the clearing, clean-up, repair and reconstruction of their homes after being hit by a tornado.  Teams were hosted by Apison UMC, pastored by the father of one of our members.  A team also traveled to West Liberty, KY to assist our neighbors who were also hard hit by a tornado.  Working side-by-side with those directly affected by the storms build relationships and share the love of Christ within these communities.

These volunteer teams are open to skilled and non-skilled workers with a heart for helping those in need. Because of the quick-response nature of many of these opportunities, the VIM team has developed an e-mail list for those interested in serving.






Thomas Bell (East Africa Ventures) provides financial services to East African entrepreneurs. With microloans, they are able to build businesses that empower families and transform communities economically, spiritually, socially and environmentally.  The program resides in Nimule, South Sudan.

Contact the church office: (859) 233-0545

Jerry Kulah is the District Superintendent of the Monrovia District of the UMC in Liberia.  Funds were given for construction of an adequate home for Rev. Dr. Jerry Kulah and his family.  Jerry and his wife, Ruth, have four children and have taken in five of his brother’s children.  His brother was killed in the civil war.  They have been working on building a home for five years with whatever income the Lord has provided.  The funds we gave this year were used to finish basic bathrooms, a ceiling, and the digging of a well and reservoir to get water to the house.

Contact Jim Heidinger: (859) 887-2168, JimHeidinger@yahoo.com

Manny Otsin and the Ghana Vision Team

Manny Otsin is a member of our Andover congregation and is completing his Masters in Public Health in preparation for providing medical care as an evangelism tool in Ghana.  Faith Promise has supported him in that effort through his Home Team made up of Andover members.  This past year, a mission team traveled to Ghana led by Manny Otsin and Todd Nelson.  They gave eye examinations to provide glasses during the day and preached crusades at night.  This will be the beginning of a focus on ministry to Ghana for our Andover campus.

Contact Todd Nelson at todd@1stumc.org

Janine Roberts (Cornerstone International) started Project HOPE to serve orphaned and vulnerable children affected by the AIDS epidemic in Zimbabwe, Africa.  Janine and Project HOPE serve The Fairfield Children’s Home, which cares for 80 orphaned children and children of families that cannot support them due to their illness.  Janine lives and works among local leaders at the children’s home and partners with local schools, doctors, and healthcare workers.  Contact Martina Ockerman at the church office: (859) 233-0545

Village Project Africa works with children and teachers of the Heritage Academy, Makutano, Kenya, East Africa.  Linda Svec, a member of our Downtown congregation, went with a group of educators in June 2011 to bring school supplies and curriculum to the early childhood classes.  Faith Promise helped Linda make a follow-up trip this past February.  This trip provided assistance in the classroom and home visits with the students.  www.villageprojectafrica.org

Contact Linda Svec: (859) 278-5953, svec01@windstream.net



The Good Shepherd Orphanage (TGSO) houses orphaned children and trains them in a Christian lifestyle and environment in Carrefour, Haiti.  Our connection with TGSO is through Ryan Copple, a member of our Offerings congregation, and the University of Kentucky Wesley Foundation. Ryan arranged for our church to host a group from TGSO when they visited Lexington this past year to raise funds for their ministry.  Faith Promise has also supported Ryan’s mission trips to Haiti to work in the orphanage. www.gsohaiti.org

Contact Ryan Copple: (859) 321-0694


VIM – Haiti

These projects have been prioritized by the EMH leadership and the Jurisdictional Coordinators for UMCOR.  Projects are assigned to individual VIM teams by the UMVIM staff working at the Methodist Guest House in Port-au-Prince based on need, availability of materials and local skilled labor, and the skill level of VIM teams. Project tasks can include 1) providing materials and labor for the specific project to which the team is assigned, 2) meeting, engaging, building relationships, and working with members of the local congregation and community, and 3) engaging children, congregation, and community through Christ centered activities.




Nabil and Sana Samara (Olive Branch Ministry) are Palestinian Christians ministering in and around Nazareth, Israel.  Rev. Dr. Nabil Samara administrates and teaches at a satellite of Bethlehem Bible College in Nazareth and frequently preaches throughout the area.  He founded Olive Branch Ministry to train emerging young leaders by improving their skills in leadership, preaching, and strategic planning for church growth. We met Nabil while he was doing his doctoral work in Asbury’s Beeson Scholars program and have maintained a close relationship with him as he ministers in Israel.

Contact the church office: (859) 233-0545

[Secure Missionary] is in a part of India that can be dangerous for Christians, so will remain unnamed on this page for security reasons.  This person is serving alongside local Christian healthcare workers serving poor Hindu and Muslim villagers.  This area is a spiritually dark place with over 100 million unreached people.  This missionary visited FUMC this past year to share more about this exciting ministry.  Because of security concerns, we cannot print more information about this missionary or the ministry, but we are happy to share more information directly with you.

Contact Katheryn Heinz: (859) 230-9583



David and Emily Fenz (Campus Crusade) is a member of a team of Americans and Hungarians who are sharing the gospel this summer in the city of Keszthely, Hungary through the English camp called Speak Out.  This is a 5 week long project seeking to share the gospel with Hungarian high school and university students from all over Hungary.  David has seen many students changed by the gospel, and he has also had his own life shaped by God as he learns to trust God more.

Contact the church office: (859)233-0545


Kaupo and Thea Kant (Tree of Life UMC in Võru)  Our church has a long-standing relationship with the United Methodist Church in Estonia. Since 1995, teams from FUMC have taken multiple trips to Estonia to provide encouragement and support, lead children’s camps, do construction work, and lead worship services. Over 100 FUMC members have traveled to Estonia in the past 15 years. We participate in World Methodist Evangelism’s Connecting Congregation program, currently as partners for the congregation in Vitka, Estonia, a satellite of the Methodist church in Voru. This year, we financially helped Tree of Life UMC complete construction of the educational area of their building.  Rev. Kaupo Kant is frequently in Kentucky through Asbury Seminary’s Beeson Program and spends time with our congregation during his stays. www.elupuukeskus.ee

Contact David Bratcher: (859) 272-4359



Evangelism Resources spreads the gospel throughout the world by identifying, training, and resourcing indigenous Christian leaders with passion and gifts for evangelism.  Based in Wilmore, KY, they began their work in Kinshasa, Zaire.  Their work has spread to many nations with a present focus on India, Nepal, Myanmar, and Bangladesh.  Efforts are also being made to resource house-church leaders in China.  Through Schools of Evangelism, portable Bible schools, and Great Commission Challenge Camps, they disciple, recruit, and train leaders to establish congregations in villages without Christian presence.


Contact Howard Reynolds: (859) 543-8581

Mission Support Giving

This year 12% of all donations will be committed to funding mission ministries across the street and around the world.   This will apply the Faith Promise model to all aspects of our stewardship as a church by committing 10 cents of every dollar to support ministries that have been partners for decades, or that are new to our church.   The congregation is “stepping out in faith” this year with a model that embraces the New Testament’s model of giving found in 2 Corinthians 8-9.


At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality, as it is written: “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.”

(2 Cor 8:14-15)

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

(2 Cor 9:7-8)

We anticipate that through prayer, faith, and trust, God will provide abundantly.  The level of giving to mission partners can be sustained this year through giving for the purpose of transforming lives and communities with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the love of God.


Other Mission Partnerships through Special Events

Christmas Giving Tree

Each December, our congregation sponsors local children through our Giving Tree. Children’s Christmas needs and wish lists are available for individuals or groups to take and provide so that they will receive gifts at Christmas.

Contact Kristin Tippey: (859) 333-6001

Embrace UMC Food Pantry

This food pantry supplies non-perishable food items through the donations of local churches and organizations in the Lexington area.  Each Monday, families are invited to attend a dinner and a worship service.  During that time, a food box is prepared for each family by a group of volunteers.  They receive canned vegetables, spaghetti and sauce, breakfast cereal, a loaf of bread and an assortment of healthy meal options.  This is one of the few places where a family can receive food on a regular weekly basis.  The other food pantries restrict the number of times that a family can receive a food box, and have limitations on what families can choose.  First United Methodist Church’s Andover Campus collects food items on the first Sunday of each month and delivers them to Embrace.


Other Mission Partnerships Through Special Offerings


5th Sunday Offerings for United Methodist Children’s Homes

Every 5th Sunday, UM churches throughout Kentucky take a special offering for the United Methodist Children’s Homes.  Kentucky United Methodist Children’s Homes have ministered to children of all ages for over 135 years. They serve as a treatment facility for adolescent children with histories of abuse, neglect, abandonment, and family trauma. FUMC has been one of the Homes’ strongest supporters through hands-on involvement and financial contributions.  www.kyumh.com

Contact Tip Moody: (859) 553-2264-0089

Have a Heart for Seniors Offering

Each February, we take this special offering for Wesley Village. This offering provides for healthcare needs of residents who have exhausted their financial resources.

One Great Hour of Sharing

Every year we take a special collection for the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) and its ministries of food, shelter, health and peace. One hundred percent of gifts go for direct assistance to others in need.

World Communion Sunday Offering

UM churches across the nation take this offering the first Sunday in October to support Crusade Scholarships, the Ethnic Scholarship Program, and the Ethnic In-Service Training Program.

United Methodist Student Day Offering

This offering, collected in November or December, provides loan and scholarship funds for United Methodist college, university, and graduate students.

Special Holiday Offerings

Our church takes special offerings at Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas, and Easter. Each of these offerings goes toward a need identified in advance by the Mission Team.

Kentucky Annual Conference Offering

Our mission offering this past year was shared by two health ministries in our United Methodist connection. Last year, you were generous with the ministry in Venezuela which provides training for new church pastors. In 2012 our offering went to build a health clinic on the property of the seminary in Venezuela. The addition of this ministry at the seminary will allow them to provide care to persons both in the school and in the neighborhood.  The Christian witness is strong in this nation, even in the midst of difficulty and persecution.

This offering was also shared with two ministries in the Red Bird Missionary Conference: the MIHOW (Maternal Infant Health Outreach Worker) programs at both the Red Bird Mission and Henderson Settlement. The MIHOW ministry provides home visits to pregnant women and families with young children up to three years of age to promote healthy living.


Nathaniel United Methodist Mission was originally started by FUMC in 1946. The mission serves residents of Irishtown and Davis Bottoms, one of the most economically depressed areas in Lexington. Members of our congregation have volunteered in the Nathaniel Health Clinic and other various ways over the years.

Contact Mary Jo Billiter 859-223-1823

High Street Neighborhood Center  provides pre-school and weekday childcare for 60 children ranging from ages twelve months to five years. Children are nurtured in a Christian environment, including a Christian-based academic curriculum.  The Neighborhood Center was started by FUMC and Calvary Baptist in 1969 as a co-operated day care facility dedicated to serving families who are economically challenged.  For the past 40 years, our two congregations have continued as the sponsors of this ministry.  Church members compose half of the Neighborhood Center’s Board, and many members have volunteered at the Center.

Contact the church office: (859)233-0545