Stories from the Global Church

Here you will find stories from the global church by ELCA global missionaries, scholars, and churchwide staff, brought to you by the ELCA Global Church Sponsorship team.

It’s OK to cry

Posted on September 18, 2012 by Hand In Hand

David and Mary Kuck are ELCA missionaries in Jamaica. They teach at the United Theological College of the West Indies in Kingston.  To support the Kucks, or another of the ELCA’s over 200 missionaries, go to

Anointing a new graduate.

Anointing a new graduate.

Yesterday we attended the graduation ceremony of the second group of students who have completed the Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) program that United Theological College (UTC) has just begun to offer. In the past, our Lutheran students have been able to participate in a CPE program through Wartburg Seminary, but other students at our college have never had this opportunity.

The graduating group was seven men, some already pastors and some not yet assigned, led by the Rev. Brenda Wallace of the Care and Counseling Center of Georgia. We sat completely absorbed as one man after the other testified to the transformation that this program had made in his life. Several discussed finally dealing with serious family issues they had thought were behind them, and how the process freed them to be able to listen to others without carrying that personal baggage. All of them learned, sometimes painfully, that it is OK for men to cry. It was really heartening to see how, through the difficult work of examining their souls, they had formed a supportive group, in a culture where men often feel isolated from and in constant competition with each other. This fledgling program has begun in spite of severe financial constraints that the college is experiencing, and we are praying that somehow it can continue to be funded.

Just so you know that it is not all work and no play, we did have a lovely vacation in the U.S, visiting our children and grandchildren, and attending a family reunion/niece’s wedding shower in Torch Lake, Mich.

Please pray for a productive academic year, for the financial resources to support it at UTC, for the faculty and the students, and for us. Thank you, as always, for your continuing support.

Mary and David

Breaking barriers to the Good News

Posted on April 17, 2012 by Hand In Hand

The Rev. David and Mary Kuck are ELCA missionaries in Jamaica. Their work includes teaching at the United Theological College in Kingston. To support the Kucks, or another of the ELCA’s 230 missionaries, go to


The healing service at St. Thomas in Majesty Gardens.

The healing service at St. Thomas in Majesty Gardens.

Our life in Jamaica has a variety of facets, but one theme holding them together is the effort to overcome communication gaps that still exist among us. The Lutheran side of our work attempts to bridge gaps between the ELCA and its partner churches in the Caribbean — in Guyana, Haiti and Suriname. In March we had a wonderful visit from the Rev. Raquel Rodriguez and Tammy Jackson from the Global Mission Unit of the ELCA and the Rev. Kevin Jacobson of the Lutheran Church in Suriname. We explored ways to have future ministerial students come to the United Theological College from the various countries. Lutherans trained at UTC can help bridge the communication gaps that impede Christian unity in the Caribbean.

Both of us try to help our UTC students to communicate and preach in an environment that throws up many barriers to the hearing of Christ’s gospel. To communicate the Good News takes skill in language, theological insight and a burning desire to break through the fears and preoccupations of people living lives isolated from the sacred dimensions of existence.

We ourselves have just experienced the richness of the observance of Holy Week and Easter, both at our “big” Anglican church, St. Andrew Parish Church, and at its “little” mission, St. Thomas, in the inner city community of Majesty Gardens. There are many gaps between these two linked communities. And there are many gaps in the lives of the people, as they try to connect their spiritual faith to the often deadening reality of their lives. Last month a special healing service at St. Thomas focused on the empty spaces that conflicts and illness create between neighbors and friends. The need for and reception of God’s grace was palpable in the singing and the prayers. Through David’s preaching in a variety of places and Mary’s regular presence at St. Thomas, we try to help bridge these gaps.

We hope that these letters help to fill the gaps between all of you and us as we work together in mission.                                                              
Blessings to you all,
Mary and David

Educating leaders in the Caribbean

Posted on February 14, 2012 by Hand In Hand

The Rev. David and Mary Kuck are ELCA missionaries in Kingston, Jamaica, serving in theological education at the United Theological College of the West Indies. To support the Kucks, or another of the ELCA’s nearly 250 missionaries, go to

David Kuck meets with the current group of Doctor of Ministry students and their lecturer.

David Kuck meets with the current group of Doctor of Ministry students and their lecturer.

Dear friends:

Some of you have been supporting our work here in Jamaica for many years; others have signed on quite recently. We believe that all of you have made this commitment not only because you are generous supporters of our church’s mission around the world, but also because you appreciate the crucial importance of theological education to the life and health of the church.

We are the Lutheran presence on the faculty of the ecumenical seminary called the United Theological College of the West Indies. Through our teaching we help to form a committed and skilled cadre of pastors and leaders for churches throughout the Caribbean region. In an arc from Belize to Guyana our graduates serve in urban and rural, wealthy and impoverished, thriving and dying communities (this is not to mention the numerous UTCWI graduates who are serving in North America and the United Kingdom).  The people you meet in the hotels and resorts in the Caribbean are often active members of churches pastored by UTCWI graduates.

Our president, the Rev. Dr. Marjorie Lewis, came back from a recent visit to Haiti impressed by the way Methodist, Lutheran and Baptist UTCWI graduates have provided strength and leadership in the crisis of the earthquake in Port-au-Prince two years ago and its aftermath.

In recent years David has served as the coordinator of graduate studies at UTCWI, while Mary teaches research methods in the program. In collaboration with the University of the West Indies we offer Master of Arts and Master of Philosophy degrees and doctoral degrees in theology. We recently have added the Master of Divinity degree.  And in collaboration with Columbia Theological Seminary in Georgia we offer a Doctor of Ministry Degree. These graduate programs attract students not only from the mainline denominations but also from a wide variety of Evangelical and Pentecostal denominations as well. This gives us a wonderful challenge and opportunity to help raise up thoughtful leaders all across the Christian spectrum.

You are partners in this educational process. Your support of our work helps to assure that the Christians of the Caribbean region will continue to have the kind of leaders needed to guide the churches through economic and cultural turbulence. Many thanks to you all.

God’s Blessings,
Mary and David

Greetings from Jamaica!

Posted on October 15, 2011 by Hand In Hand

David and Mary Kuck are serving in Jamaica. David is a lecturer at the United Theological College of the West Indies in Kingston, and Mary teaches English at the college and for the Jamaican vocational training agency. To support the Kucks, or another of the ELCA’s nearly 250 missionaries, go to

Kelly and Kraig are returning students.

Kelly and Kraig are returning students.

Dear Friends,

We are settled back in Jamaica after spending most of the summer in the U.S. Our time spent visiting churches, family and friends was refreshing. To all who provided hospitality and assistance, we say thanks. We’re sorry that we couldn’t visit all of you who sponsor our mission, but we hope to see you on our next summer leave.

The beginning of each academic year is challenging and exciting, as we create our new schedules and start working with incoming students. We have a small entering class of those preparing for the ordained ministry, but the graduate programs that David coordinates continue to attract a good number of students. These graduate students come from Evangelical and Pentecostal churches as well as from the mainline denominations, so that the ecumenical nature of our institution is expanding. It’s a great opportunity to help all the students explore and deepen the foundations of their faith.

Mary has been asked to take on a new project this fall. For a number of years United Theological College has had an ongoing training program for ministry to those affected by HIV and AIDS. Out of these seminars grew an outline for a handbook for pastors and other church workers to help their congregations understand HIV and AIDS and minister to those affected. In August, Mary was asked to edit and expand the outline into a full handbook. It is interesting and challenging work, involving research, getting in touch with other folks in Jamaica who are involved in HIV and  AIDS work and just the difficult task of writing. You will hear about the project again when the book is finished.

For now, however, we wish you all a renewing start to the academic “New Year” with every blessing!

David and Mary


Fall 2010 Hand in Hand newsletter online and in print

Posted on July 26, 2010 by Hand In Hand

Find the issue and its related bulletin inserts online at E-mail to request distribution copies.

The Fall 2010 issue of the Hand in Hand newsletter is here!  Visit to find the issue and the related bulletin inserts, just right to reproduce in newsletters and bulletins.  To request a single copy for yourself or multiple copies to distribute, send your address to  

Side A 

Jesus said, “Let the little children come unto me,” is a reflection by ELCA missionary Mary Kuck (Jamaica).  Bulletin insert available

Meet Richard Young: ELCA Missionary, Pastor, Physician (Guyana). Bulletin insert available

Side B

“I need to polish the swan!”  Pastor Twila Shock’s column takes us to Suriname, introduces us to Helloues Aveloo’s congregation revitalization contribution, and invites us to “do one thing” that will make a world of difference:  become an ELCA missionary covenant sponsorBulletin insert available

Learn how to participate in Operation Thanks-Giving (OT-G2) and offer your own “random acts of thanks-giving.”  Two bulletin inserts are available, including a “handy”  thanks-giving card pattern.  Visit to find OT-G2 stories, pictures, and how-to information.