By David Pendered
Metro Atlanta’s thriving public health sector has attracted an international faith-based ministry with a focus on health to move to Midtown from New York City.
Global Ministries, the mission agency of The United Methodist Church, is relocating after almost 200 years in New York. The move is part of the ministries’ strategic plan to shift from a centralized operation to one based on regional offices.
“We’re very aware that Atlanta has a reputation as the public health capital of the world,” said Mary Andreolli, a spokesperson for Global Ministries. “Global Ministries has a very strong global health component. We wanted to be a in a city where global health is important, as well.”
Another criteria was an international airport.
Global Ministries intends to open a regional office no later than this summer in or near Buenos Aires, Argentina. Regional offices area planned in Asia and Africa.
“We were looking for a place that had a very international setting,” Andreolli said. “Atlanta has an international airport. Atlanta is a crossroads of the world. Everything pointed to moving to Atlanta.”
Atlanta City Councilmember Kwanza Hall welcomed Global Ministries to the city.
“I am delighted that Global Ministries is joining Atlanta’s thriving global public health community,” Hall said in an email. “Their professional staff will feel right at home in a city that includes the Carter Center, Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health, CARE, and the CDC. I am especially excited to welcome this major nonprofit organization to Ponce de Leon Avenue, a dynamic artery in intown Atlanta where Midtown and the Old Fourth Ward meet.”
A groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for Tuesday at 2 p.m. at a site the ministries purchased from Grace United Methodist Church, 458 Ponce de Leon Ave. The congregation will remain in the worship space. Global Ministries intends to complete the move from New York this autumn.
Global Ministries employs a central staff of about 150. The ministries oversees about 350 missionaries in 60 countries. The ministries has personnel, projects and partners in 136 countries. About 100,000 individuals from the U.S. work on short-term mission projects around the world, Andreolli said.
A host of institutions encouraged Global Ministries to locate in Atlanta, Andreolli said. The list includes a number of churches and universities; the Rollins School of Public Health, at Emory University; the Candler School of Theology; The Carter Center; Clark Atlanta University; and Gammon Theological Seminary.
Global health is a priority of the ministries. The special focus is on protecting children from preventable deaths from diseases such as malaria and HIV/AIDS, according to the ministries’ website.
The World Health Organization estimates that in 2013 malaria caused 198 million clinical episodes and 500,000 deaths, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yet malaria can be eliminated, as it was in the United States in the 1950s. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has committed nearly $2 billion toward its goal of creating, “A world free of malaria,” according to the foundation’s website.
“Bill Gates and the U.N. took the lead and sent requests to organizations saying, ‘we want to end malaria’,” Andreolli said. “The United Methodist Church became part of that movement…. We committed to raising $75 million, and we’ve raised $68 million to date as part of the ‘Imagine No Malaria’ campaign.”
Against this international backdrop, Andreolli said Global Ministries remains committed to promoting health in the United States.
“Our goal is to work with 10,000 churches in the United States to provide resources to empower churches to reach out to local communities, particularly in areas that are impoverished for health care, and for health education for the congregations themselves,” Andreolli said.