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Rockford young adult commissioned as Global Fellow to help serve the homeless

Posted: August 18 2020 at 09:55 AM
Author: Anne Marie Gerhardt, Dir. of Communications


Emily Palm, a lifelong member of Christ UMC in Rockford, is serving as a US-2 Mission intern in Detroit, Michigan.

Recent college graduate Emily Palm thought her next chapter in life would be serving in the Peace Corps overseas. 

“In January before the coronavirus pandemic, I had my placement in the Peace Corps. I applied for my visa and I was all set to go to Mongolia to teach English for two years,” Palm said. “I was ready and I thought it was what I had been called to do.”

What Palm wasn’t expecting was that her allergy to penicillin would be a red flag. “The Peace Corps did the second medical check and since I’m allergic to penicillin, they didn’t want to send me to a developing country.”

Palm, a lifelong member of Christ UMC in Rockford, remembered her pastor Rev. Jane Eesley sharing stories of her personal experience in the United Methodist General Board of Global Missions (GBGM) former Mission Intern (now International Track) serving the Palestinian-Christian community in Jerusalem. So Palm started applying for the international track through GBGM, as a Global Missions Fellow. But due to the pandemic, GBGM wasn’t sending anyone abroad. 

“I was really determined to take the international track because I thought that was what I was supposed to do at first,” said Palm. “But I started hearing more about the US-2 track and how it would be closer to what I want to do, which is direct social work with homeless individuals.”

The Global Fellows US-2 Track is for those authorized to work in the United States (including citizens and those who qualify under DAPA and DACA). The track is a 24-month service program that includes training, transition into the new affiliate site, and intentional/community living. 

Palm has been placed with the NOAH Project in downtown Detroit, which is located at Central UMC and offers lunch, social services, physical health counseling, and emergency needs for homeless individuals. NOAH stands for Networking, Organizing and Advocating for the Homeless and aims to empower low income and homeless people in Detroit to achieve stability by serving as the first step on the journey to self-sufficiency. 

The unexpected placement aligns perfectly with Palm's skills, experience, and mission outlook.

“I am passionate about missions and helping people in need,” Palm said. “I have experience working with youth and at-risk populations, as well as extensive mission work. When faced with stress or adversity, I have learned to use mindfulness, meditation, and prayer, which have helped me to take care of myself better and, ultimately, become a better leader.” 

Emily’s most recent job experience was with Rockford Work Camp in summer 2019, when she led out-of-town mission teams in the completion of various community projects in the Rockford area. This opportunity, she explained, offered “insight on the workings of nonprofits.” As a teen and young adult, she participated in various mission journeys across the United States, where she learned construction, teamwork, and interpersonal skills. Interning at Christ United Methodist Church in 2018, Emily planned and led mission experiences and assisted with youth ministry and worship. Volunteering is also high on Emily’s list of accomplishments, including tutoring at-risk children and youth at a nonprofit for homeless individuals and families.

Rev. Eesley said Christ UMC strongly supports youth mission work. “I knew Emily had a heart for mission—this has been true through her work with our youth group and volunteering with a homeless outreach center in Rockford,” Eesley said. “When Emily asked about different ways of serving, I told her about the Global Missions Fellow program. When she started talking about the Peace Corps, I just prayed that she be led to the right program.”

Palm said the GBGM staff was extremely helpful in making her decision. “They were so kind,” Palm said. “They prayed when we started the interview and prayed when we closed. I was still sad about the Peace Corps but it was so touching how loving and supportive they were in this process.”

Bishop Sally Dyck said it’s important people know that these GBGM programs are supported by apportionment dollars and are developing young leaders in our denomination and beyond.

“This is going to be an inspiring experience for Emily,” Bishop Dyck said. “The lessons she will learn along the way might result in a strong calling but you don’t always know what it will look like in the end. You just need to trust the process. Regardless, it’s going to have a wonderful imprint on who she is and who yet she will become.” 

Rev. Eesley said this is one opportunity where congregations, whether adult lay people, youth leaders or church staff, can play an important role in supporting young adults in their sense of calling. 

“Emily and I had lunch and talked about her plans,” Eesley said. “It’s important to give young adults some private space to explore their calling and give them that space to think through different options.”

Eesley said the US-2 program gives an important hands-on experience and a chance to “serve with your heart and learn” especially for young adults who are still trying to figure out a vocation to pursue.

Palm said she may still be trying to find her place in this world trying to figure it out but this feels like where she is supposed to be. She encourages other young adults to consider becoming a Global Mission Fellow. 

“It doesn’t matter what your major is,” said Palm. “If you feel a calling to mission, go for it! It doesn’t matter what your background is – that was something I was stuck on. I felt it wasn’t qualified and wondered how I was going to do it–but GBGM will help you along the way."

If you would like to financially support Emily, give to Advance # 3022618 at

Learn more about the Global Mission Fellows program at

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