PC(USA) Mission Co-Workers Mark Hare and Jenny Bent
About Jenny Bent and Mark Hare
In January 2020, Jenny and Mark brought 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.
Even as a child, Jenny Bent felt that her primary calling in life is to love others as herself. She explains, “In the moments when I act in love, I feel something that is very deep and makes me grow. Just like babies laugh because they feel something is good, without anyone teaching them. Since birth, even before being baptized into the church, I have been called to love with all my senses and wisdom.”
Jenny’s work in Community Health Evangelism (CHE) in the Dominican Republic provided her with abundant opportunities to practice love through walking alongside, listening to and supporting communities as they determined what they needed to thrive. As she continues her ministry of presence in Costa Rica, Jenny looks forward to being present with and learning from Costa Rican communities and refugees from her native Nicaragua who have fled to Costa Rica. Moreover, she believes the people she and Mark will encounter through the UBL will contribute to her growth as a CHE facilitator. She anticipates learning from UBL seminarians about the theological bases for CHE and about the valuable things they have learned from their parishioners. In turn, Jenny hopes that “seminarians will learn something about CHE and make it uniquely theirs.”
Caring for the environment is at the core of Mark’s call. “I believe that my particular calling is to love the Earth and be intimately involved with the natural world,” he says. He sees working with the UBL, a seminary that recognizes the connection between theology, community development and the environment, as an honor. His experience as a mission co-worker in Haiti and the Dominican Republic have demonstrated that such practical theology is vital: “Applying principles of CHE in my work with rural families in Haiti and marginalized urban families and congregations in the Dominican Republic, I came to appreciate how important it is to address people’s spirituality in helping them move towards sustainable community development.” The UBL, he believes, will help him better understand how to “make the connection between what we believe and living it.”
Jenny is originally from Nicaragua. Her father, Norman Bent, is a retired pastor of the Moravian Church and a long-time social advocate in ecumenical programs for peace and justice. Her mother, Modestina, was a Sunday school teacher and very involved in her local women’s group. Jenny is the third child of a family of five. She attended college at the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua, where she received her bachelor’s degree in laboratory science. Her special interests include sewing, crocheting and growing roses.
The youngest of five children, Mark grew up in southeast Ohio in the foothills of the Appalachians. His father, Frank, is a retired pastor who has also been involved for over 30 years with the Coalition for Appalachian Ministry, an organization of Reformed denominations that helps connect and support community-based organizations. At 91, Mark’s mother, Catherine, remains passionate about Christian education, which she helps lead for the Amesville-New England parish. Mark has a B.A. in environmental studies from Warren Wilson College and an M.S. in forestry from Michigan State University.
Jenny is a member of First Moravian Church in Managua, Nicaragua. Mark is a member of Amesville Presbyterian Church in Amesville, Ohio, part of the Scioto Valley Presbytery. Married since 2008, they are the parents of two daughters, Keila Rosa and Annika Estela.
Mark – December 9
Jenny – October 9
Keila – July 16
Annika – July 10
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/
PC(USA) Mission Co-Workers Carlton “Cobbie” and Dessa Palm
The Outreach Committee expanded 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.