Starrsville United Methodist Church Pastor Susan Taylor, the church's first female pastor, recently packed her bags and joined a team of eight people to travel to Nairobi, Kenya, and help train a group of Kenyan pastors. Almost 100 miles away from the capitol, Taylor and her team reached Nakuru where the United Methodist training actually took place.
Taylor was part of a three-person teaching team and was even instrumental in writing the curriculum that was produced and used on the training in Kenya.
"We trained 40 UM pastors to become local pastors in the United Methodist Church in Kenya," Taylor said.
One of the three goals for the trip was to teach United Methodist Kenya pastors to be United Methodist local pastors. Forty pastors attended a five-day training session modeled on the "License to Preach" course taught in the U.S. to people who have a high school diploma and have a call to become a UM pastor.
"We taught history and tradition of Christianity; doctrine, history and tradition of the UMC," Taylor said. "We taught them the Christian ethics at the local church level and at the broader level of the Christian church."
These particular pastors do not have a seminary degree and often do not have a college degree. They can only serve Holy Communion, baptize and marry people in the congregation where they are appointed to be the pastor-in-charge.
Aside from the training, the missions trip had two other goals for Taylor and her team: getting clean water for the people in the Kenya communities and working with Kenyan women to teach them how to be independent learning a craft that can be made into a business.
Having clean water to drink is easily taken for granted here in the U.S., but for many others abroad, clean water is not always accessible. Sawyer, a company based in Tampa, Fla., provided the filters for the water filter systems and residents in the communities were taught how to properly use the water filter system so they could have clean drinking water. Each water filter system costs just $60 U.S. dollars.
"I am always thankful to God for the blessing of being an American citizen where I can drink water from a faucet that is clean and will not cause me to get sick with diseases," Taylor said.
The final goal of the trip was to teach Kenyan women a craft that would earn them money. Taylor and her team worked with women who have their own craft businesses and taught them ways of making jewelry that will sell in the U.S. using current fashion colors and trends along with beads brought to them from the U.S. that they can incorporate into their work.
The UMC team also purchased a variety of craft products from the women's businesses and brought them back to Atlanta to help raise funds.
"On the second Sunday in December, Peachtree Road United Methodist Church will host a Christmas gift bazaar where people can purchase these items," Taylor said. "All money collected on the sale of these items is returned to the business owners (crafters) with no money being kept in the U.S. - a 100 percent profit for these business women.
"These beads are made of clay by women, and the proceeds from their sale go directly back to the women. I love my Kazuri beads and love knowing that my purchase of the beads for myself and for gifts means that I supported women in business who are making a living selling these beautiful beads. I understand that Meryl Streep wears them and has been photographed wearing them too."
Most Kazuri beads products range in price from $16-$26 U.S. dollars.
Taylor's trip to Kenya was far too short and her eight days there went by too quickly.
"I hope to return to Kenya in February of next year, along with associate pastor at Alpharetta First UMC Rev. Brent White, to teach this same class we piloted on this trip to the 50 remaining UM Kenya pastors who have not received this training," Taylor said.
For more information about Kazuri beads, visit globalmarketplace.org/kazuriinkenya.html. For more information about Starrsville United Methodist Church, call (770) 786-4293 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit starrsvilleumc.org.