GEMN announces Board officers and new members for 2023-24

Global Episcopal Mission Network
Posted Nov 13, 2023

President Ayda Patricia Martin, VP Paul Rajan, Secretary Grace Burton-Edwards, Treasurer Bill Kunkle, and Board members Molly O’Brien, Walter Brownridge and Nancy Searby

Officers and board members recently elected to the leadership of the Global Episcopal Mission Network bring diverse experiences and important skills to the network’s leadership.

Reelected GEMN president at the GEMN Board’s monthly meeting in June was Ms. Ayda Patricia Martin, who has worked in the missionary teams coordination office of the Dominican Episcopal Church and has contributed to the growth of that diocese through ecumenical work, planning, and development of youth and adult programs. She studied business administration at La Universidad Nacional Pedro Henríquez Ureña in Santo Domingo. She was reelected to the Board at the Global Mission Conference in May in Tampa, Florida.

The Rev. Paul Rajan, vicar of Good Shepherd Church in Wantage, N.J., was elected the new vice president. Originally from Tirunelveli Diocese in the Church of South India, Paul was a cross-cultural missionary in the Indian state of Karnataka. In New Zealand he worked among migrant communities of Samoans, Tongans, Fijians, Fijian Indians, Sri Lankans, Ghanaians, Nigerians and the Asian diaspora communities under the umbrella of Global Peace Mission. He chairs the Global Mission Commission of the Diocese of Newark. Paul holds a B.Th. and M.A. from Madurai University, India, and an M.Div. from Interfaith Seminary in New York.

The Rev. Dr. Grace Burton-Edwards, rector of St. Thomas Church in Columbus, Georgia, was reelected secretary of the network. A member of the Global Mission Commission of the Diocese of Atlanta, she has served on the Standing Commission on World Mission, She is the principal author of Questing: The Way of Love in Global Mission, published by GEMN.  She holds a B.A. from Mississippi College, M.Div. from Christian Theological Seminary, and D.Min. from Seabury-Western Theological Seminary.

Re-elected treasurer was Mr. Bill Kunkle, executive director of the Province IX Development Group. Bill was appointed to the Board in July, where he has served before. A member of the Diocese of Southwest Florida, where he serves on the Companion Diocese Committee, Bill was a DFMS missionary and was executive director of the Dominican Development Group, through which he led hundreds of short-term mission teams. He is president of Kunkle Contracting in Tampa. He studied at the University of Cincinnati.

Reelected to a second three-year term on the Board was Ms. Molly O’Brien, whose geographical move prompted her to step down from being vice president. Experienced with Cristosal in Central America, Molly served on the Global Mission Commission of the Diocese of Pennsylvania and on the staff of Virginia Seminary’s Center for Anglican Communion Studies. She is now a member of the Diocese of New Hampshire. Serving on the staff of Eastern University in Pennsylvania, Molly holds a B.A. from Smith College and an M.P.A. from George Mason University.

The Rev. Canon Walter Brownridge, canon to the ordinary in the Diocese of Vermont, was newly elected to the Board at the annual meeting in May. Walter and his wife Tina served as missionaries of the Episcopal Church in Cape Town, South Africa, from 2003 to 2006, and he is currently a member of the Standing Commission on World Mission.  He co-edited “Apostle of Ubuntu,” the Anglican Theological Review’s tribute to Desmond Tutu, and contributed to Preaching Black Lives (Matter). He has organized Civil Rights Pilgrimages to Atlanta, Montgomery and Selma. A graduate of General Seminary, Walter has served parishes in Ohio, Delaware and New York City, and was dean of the Honolulu cathedral and associate dean at the School of Theology, Sewanee. Walter holds a B.A. from John Carroll University, M.A. from the University of San Diego and J.D. from Georgetown.

The Rev. Nancy Searby, a newly ordained deacon in the Diocese of Virginia, was appointed in August to the Board, to which she brings special interest in mission with the church in Tanzania. As program manager for NASA’s Earth Science Applied Sciences Capacity Building Program at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C., Nancy champions applying Earth science data to decisions that improve society. Her program builds individual and institutional capacity both domestically and globally to improve disaster resilience, biodiversity and ecosystem sustainability, water resources management, public health surveillance and food security and sustainable agriculture. Nancy holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado-Boulder and a Ph.D. from Stanford.

Retiring from the board this year were Dr. Martha Alexander, long active in the companionships of the Diocese of North Carolina with Haiti, Costa Rica, Belize and Botswana; the Rev. Jaime Briceño of the Diocese of Chicago and digital missioner for Bexley Seabury Seminary; and the Rev. Maurice Dyer of the Diocese of Pennsylvania, who is now a military chaplain.

“GEMN is blessed with outstanding leaders,” said executive director Titus Presler. “We’re very grateful for the contributions of Martha, Jaime and Maurice. The experience, theology and wisdom of the 2023-24 board promise an innovative and stimulating array of events over the coming year.”

GEMN’s board has 12 members, who serve up to two three-year terms. GEMN’s purpose is to gather, inspire and equip people to participate in God’s global mission. Its core values are humility, inclusion and companionship.