Disciples Name New Head of Division of Overseas Ministries

Julia Brown Karimu nominated to serve as next Division of Overseas Ministries President, Co-Executive of Global Ministries

Julia Brown Karimu(Indianapolis, Ind.) – The Reverend Julia Brown Karimu has traveled to numerous parts of the world as an executive with the Division of Overseas Ministries/Global Ministries. During those trips, she has learned how much people have in common around the world; having the same hopes and dreams for their children, and a desire to live in peace as they seek to faithfully witness to God’s grace and love in their particular context. Also, she has learned how people across geographic, ethnic and culture barriers have a desire to be connected with one another.

Karimu has used those insights in her work as a Vice-President with DOM/Global Ministries over the years to try and build bridges between God’s people. However, her experience and skills will soon be used in expanded ways.

During its April 7-9 meeting, the DOM Board of Directors nominated Karimu to serve as its next president and Co-Executive for Global Ministries. Current President/Co-Executive Rev. David Vargas is retiring in August after serving with DOM/Global Ministries for 27 years.

Karimu’s name will now be forwarded to the General Board of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), where the actual election is expected to take place by mail ballot. The 20-person DOM board will then do another mail ballot to confirm the election following the General Board’s action.

“It has been a humbling experience to enter into the candidate process,” said Karimu, shortly after being informed about her selection. “This ministry is a part of my DNA. I am happy to be part of a church that has a commitment to a ministry of accompaniment with partners around the world.”

A native of Mississippi, Karimu started work at the Indianapolis General Office of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in 1977, serving as Director of Voluntary Service at what is now Disciples Home Missions. Eight years later, she moved to DOM as a Vice-President and Mission Personnel executive.

“We are excited about the nomination of Julia,” said Rev. Don Gillett, DOM chair and co-chair of the Common Global Ministries Board. “She has been dedicated and committed and has done outstanding work in her current position. We’re looking forward to working with her during this time of transition.”

“I know first-hand her work ethic, her qualifications and her passion for Global Ministries, added Phyllis Hallman, a DOM board member from Arizona. “I think the continuity of someone from DOM with her years of experience is a real plus.”

When Karimu first arrived at DOM in 1985, her responsibilities were in the area of recruitment, screening, training, and recommending missionaries to be appointed by the Board. Some parts of that work have remained in her portfolio. Also, she officially became the mission personnel executive for the United Church Board for World Ministries (predecessor to the Wider Church Ministries) in 1992. Therefore, from 1992 to 1995, she was considered the mission personnel executive for both the DOM and the UCBWM, which was prior to the establishment of the Common Global Ministries Board in January of 1996.

Her work as Co-Executive for Global Ministries will take place in close consultation with Rev. Jim Moos, a United Church of Christ pastor whose name was affirmed at the Wider Church Ministries meeting, which also took place in Indianapolis on April 6-7. UCC General Synod delegates will vote on the election of Moos in Florida this summer.

Together the two Co-Executives will strive to develop ways to advance critical presence, or stated in another way: timely and appropriately meeting God’s people and creation at their point of deepest need.

As DOM President, Karimu will be responsible for guiding the ministry’s activities in such areas as program development, planning, evaluation and financial management. She also will help facilitate in connecting the ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) with the global church and the world. As Co-Executive of Global Ministries, she will work with UCC’s Moos to provide general leadership and coordination of joint mission activities in ways that acknowledge the rapidly changing environment for mission.

“I want to invite Disciples to become more deeply involved in God’s mission “from our doorsteps to the ends of the earth,” said Karimu.

Karimu, 59, earned her Master of Divinity Degree from Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis in 1986. She holds a B.S. degree in history and political science from Jackson State University in Jackson, Miss. She also earned a Teacher’s Certificate in English from Cleveland State University in Cleveland, Ohio, where she taught English, journalism and social studies to junior high students.

She is married to Christian Abdul Karimu, a program planner for the Indianapolis Parks Department. They are the parents of 18-year old twins, Christopher and Kona. Karimu is expected to start as President/Co-Executive on August 1.

For a related story on the UCC Wider Church Ministries meeting that took place April 6-7, go to: http://www.ucc.org/news/wider-church-ministries-1.html.