PC(USA) Mission Co-Workers Mark Hare and Jenny Bent
In 2012, Jenny began partnering with the Iglesia Evangélica Dominicana (IED) as it prioritized reaching out to the marginalized communities served by its churches. The IED invited her to begin a pilot project using Community Health Evangelism (CHE) in the community of Batey 7, one of some 15 or more settlements among the sugarcane fields of the Dominican southwest. The goal of CHE is to equip communities to identify and mobilize the resources they already have to engage with the issues they face and work for positive and sustainable change. The response of community leaders from Batey 7 was ultimately very positive, and in 2015 the IED took CHE to the national level and began introducing it to every region of the country.
Mark has been working with Presbyterian World Mission since 1997. After working in a reforestation program in Haiti for a year, he spent six years in Nicaragua focusing on developing agricultural systems and providing practical training for rural families. In 2004, he began serving in Haiti with the Farmer’s Movement of Haiti (MPP) and was able to apply much of what he had learned in Nicaragua to his work at the MPP’s National Training Center. Joining Mark in Haiti after their wedding in 2008, Jenny served with MPP as a volunteer in their rural health clinic. After moving to the Dominican Republic in 2012, Mark traveled to Haiti on a monthly basis, continuing to train teams of farmers in yard garden production techniques with Haitian farmer movements. He also began learning about CHE alongside Jenny and applying its holistic techniques to teaching vegetable production.
In January 2020, Jenny and Mark will bring all that they learned from their work with Dominican and Haitian communities to Costa Rica. In their new positions, they will promote environmental sustainability with the Latin American Biblical University (UBL), an ecumenical seminary on the eastern edge of the San Jose municipality in Costa Rica.
At the UBL, Jenny and Mark will collaborate with students, professors, administrators and support staff to create an integrated management plan that brings together the gifts and skills of the whole university community. A critical step in developing the plan will be creating a hand-drawn map of the two-acre property, a practical technique for strengthening community spirit that Mark and Jenny discovered through their CHE work in the Dominican Republic. A critical objective of this work is to nurture a common vision and mutual understanding as the group lays out workable strategies that lead the institution towards sustainable ecological practices.
In addition to working within the UBL community, Mark and Jenny have been called to help the university reinforce its links with the surrounding neighborhood to bring together more and more people with a passion for integrated agriculture. With the support of the larger community, the university hopes to create a safe place within the UBL grounds for testing holistic techniques to produce food, medicinal therapies and flowers. This work will seek to embody a practical theology that potentiates local resources, feeds the body and the soul, and challenges dependency on global food markets.
Mark and Jenny are the parents of two daughters, Keila and Annika. To learn more about the wonderful work these two remarkable missionaries are doing, visit https://www.presbyterianmission.org/ministries/missionconnections/mark-hare-and-jenny-bent/
World Mission Support Expanding!
The Outreach Committee is expanding support of mission workers to help address the funding crisis faced by the Presbyterian Mission Agency. The Presbyterian Mission Agency faces the very real possibility of not replacing retiring mission workers and prematurely ending the service of other mission workers.
While we continue to support the work of Mark Hare and Jenny Bent in Costa Rica, we have added to our supported mission family. Their names are Carlton “Cobbie” and Dessa Palm, serving in the Philippines. They have been identified as being at-risk for being recalled because of the decreased funding. Some information about Cobbie and Dessa and their mission follows.
Cobbie earned a bachelor’s degree from Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Fla., and the Master of Divinity degree from Union Theological Seminary in New York City. He worked on the staff of the World Council of Churches before entering mission service.
Dessa earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of the Philippines and advanced degrees from Silliman University and the New School for Social Research in New York City. In addition to her background in the dramatic arts she has also worked in nonprofit management.
Cobbie leads seminars for local church pastors throughout the Philippines, enhancing their skills in church development and revitalization. He also develops curriculum and trains churches in peace and reconciliation for the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform. Dessa coordinates the UCCP’s Theater for Evangelism and Advocacy, which seeks to train church workers and members to creatively communicate the gospel and bear witness to the transformative role of a caring and compassionate church.
For several years in the Philippines Cobbie directed the spiritual formation program at Silliman University’s Divinity School. In 2010 he began a ministry as a mission facilitator for the UCCP. Dessa, who married Cobbie in 2006, came under mission appointment in 2012.
Both Cobbie and Dessa were born in the Philippines. Cobbie’s parents were longtime Presbyterian missionaries James and Louise Palm, and Dessa is of Filipino descent. “I have been deeply blessed by the opportunities the PC(USA) has offered me to serve the Lord,” Cobbie says, “in all that I do, and into each new ministry where God leads me, my presence brings to that place the presence of the PC(USA).”
Find out more at www.pcusa.org/cobbie-and-dessa palm.
Living Waters is the global mission program of the Synod of Living Waters (Presbyterian Church USA) that trains and equips church mission groups and others to share the gift of clean water with communities in need, and to empower their partners to continue purifying their water on an ongoing basis. Clean waters systems are provided both in Appalachia and other countries. A local Board member is from our church, and this program receives funding in the outreach budget of the church.