Free Methodist World Missions is undergoing strategic changes to better assist existing missionaries, deploy new missionaries, communicate with the entire church about missions and better aid in the funding of missions. Toward that end, the Free Methodist Church – USA bishops have created a new position, the director of global church advocacy, to lead these efforts and come alongside our area directors to advance the mission. Gerald “Gerry” Coates began his new responsibilities on Feb. 13 as this new director of global church advocacy.
In meeting with the Free Methodist World Ministries Center staff, Coates shared that he sees his new role as connecting the local church with the global church.
“I see myself as a ligament,” said Coates, adding that a ligament ties things together. “My role is to try to connect people that have passion, that are getting the job done, and I love what’s going on in the Free Methodist Church across the world. I mean it is phenomenal what is happening. I am charged about this.”
Coates has served as the featured speaker in churches, retreats and camps across the United States, Nicaragua, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Kenya and the Philippines. He most recently served as the senior pastor of the Moundford Free Methodist Church in Decatur, Illinois — the third generation of his family to lead the Decatur congregation. While Coates served as pastor, Moundford’s missions giving increased by 2,000 percent.
In addition to his pastoral experience, Coates is respected throughout the church. He served previously as the executive director of Light & Life Communications for nine years. The Board of Bishops pursued Coates for this new responsibility because of the long-term involvement of him and his wife, Jan, in missions in Asia (particularly in the Philippines and Taiwan), his work with international ministries in the United States, and his proven communication skills. Plus, both he and Jan just exude the transforming love of Jesus!
The director of global church advocacy is responsible for devising and executing a plan for promoting global ministry support that includes: messaging and communicating well with the FMCUSA; deepening the connections between FMCUSA conferences and churches and the international church (including those critical country support relationships); all things surrounding the recruiting and supporting missionaries; and overseeing the global-church (FMWM) staff. As you can see, there is much to be done!
Coates said that he first learned about the position from Bishop David Kendall during the National Prayer Summit in October.
“I’d been in a period of fasting and prayer about something totally different, and Bishop Kendall pulled me aside,” he said. “Immediately, my heart just leapt within me saying, ‘This is what I’m passionate about.’”
Both Gerry and Jan are graduates of Greenville College, and Gerry also holds a Master of Divinity from Asbury Theological Seminary. Before serving as the Decatur pastor and leading denominational communications, Gerry served as a pastor of Free Methodist congregations in Florissant, Missouri; Salem, Illinois; and Herrin, Illinois.
Gerry and Jan have a house to sell in Illinois for which they would appreciate your prayers, but beyond that, they would love prayer that they may be God’s instruments for creating new pathways to international missions and for helping to raise up a new level of enthusiasm across the church for the joy of funding that mission.