New Executive Director for Week of Compassion

(Indianapolis, Ind. – DNS – Oct. 3, 2008) - The Rev. Amy Gopp has witnessed the crushing impact of war, poverty and natural disaster on people’s lives around the globe.  But she also has seen how faith, cooperation and a resilient spirit can instill hope in devastating situations.

20081002-AmyGopp.jpgGopp will draw on her experiences as a missionary, preacher, global activist and peacemaker in her newest position as Executive Director of Week of Compassion (WOC).  Gopp was called to the position earlier this week after a nation-wide search. She had previously served three years as Associate Director of WOC.

“I am thrilled to be able to serve the Church in this new way,” said Gopp. “This ministry allows me to do all that I love and all that I feel God calls me to do.  I am able to preach, connect with congregations, and accompany people that we are serving around the world.”

In her new position, Gopp will continue Week of Compassion’s long tradition of ministering to those in need across the United States and Canada and around the globe.  She will lead the ongoing work of Week of Compassion, which serves as the relief, refugee, and development ministry fund of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).  In partnership with more than 3200 congregations across North America, the ministry annually channels more than $2.5 million for world-wide humanitarian needs.

Gopp’s goals include continuing WOC’s relationships with key partners, donors and congregations in developing the annual giving campaign that undergirds WOC.  She also will work to interpret theologically and practically the work, mission and vision of WOC, as well as help Disciples grow in their understanding of disaster response and the ways it often connects to deeper systemic issues within social structures.

“Week of Compassion has been one of Disciples’ most effective ministries,” commented Gopp, who notes that she has been associated with WOC for about 12 years.  “I will basically continue to build on the success created by my dear colleague Johnny Wray and work to continue the ministry.”

Gopp will succeed Wray, who has served as director of Week of Compassion since 1992.  Wray announced in May that he will leave the position at the end of 2008, citing a desire to spend more time with family in a less travel-dominated field.

In announcing her selection, General Minister and President Sharon Watkins noted: “Rev. Gopp brings not only experience in Week of Compassion’s well-known disaster relief and development work but she also brings a passion for ministries of justice. I look forward to working with Amy in this important position.”

 “Amy has served Week of Compassion in an excellent way,” added John Richardson, chair of the Week of Compassion board and regional minister of North Carolina.  “I am very enthused about her selection as Executive Director.”

Gopp, 37, is a native of Kent, Ohio.  She is an ordained Disciples minister, who credits First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Kent, Ohio with helping to form her faith, as well as Camp Christian, a Disciples’ youth-oriented program in Ohio.  Gopp received her Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations from the American University School of International Service in Washington, D.C., a Master of Arts degree in Conflict Resolution from the McGregor School of Antioch University in Yellow Springs, Ohio and a Master of Divinity degree from Union Theological Seminary in New York.

Her numerous international experiences include living for four years as a peace activist and missionary in the war-torn former Yugoslavia. She worked in Croatia and Bosnia helping to relieve refugee concerns, promote interfaith dialogue and provide education toward conflict resolution.  She also coordinated the award-winning Pontanima, an inter-religious choir based in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina.  Gopp recalls those experiences as having a profound impact on her outlook and ministry.

“I was amazed to see how people could survive in the midst of so much destruction, death and suffering,” she says.  “Living in that area had a huge impact on me.  I learned a lot about how people are able to dance in the midst of suffering.”

Gopp also has worked with relief and development efforts in Kenya and the Sudan, as well as having been involved in poverty outreach efforts in this country, in places such as New York City.

“I see my calling as one where I must heed my call to bring good news to the poor, but also bring good news from the poor,” said Gopp. “This is the way I live out the Gospel and respond to the mandate to minister to those who are suffering.”

In her free time, Gopp enjoys reading poetry, writing, singing, cooking and spending time with her nieces and nephew.