Profile in Mission: David Zomer
Waldensian Church in Italy
What Need Is God Showing Us?
During his first two years in Italy, Dave Zomer worked in the office of the Waldensian Church's moderator on ecumenical relations, building international relationships. He also worked to renovate the Ecumene Retreat Center south of Rome. With the help of many RCA mission teams, the Ecumene Center in Velletri has been completely renovated. Because of this success and their fluency in Italian, the Waldensian moderator asked Dave to partner in evangelical and diaconal work in Sicily. He moved to Sicily and now ministers to the two southernmost Protestant churches in Italy. One of the churches is Waldensian, and the other is Methodist.
What Is God Telling Us to Do?
Dave believes God is asking him to revitalize brothers and sisters in Sicily by strengthening diaconal ministries. Each of the congregations has an established preschool program for families experiencing social or economic problems, but the churches are in need of a new direction in ministry to meet the needs of current cultural challenges. In Pachino, a congregation of the Waldensian Church, a new diaconal center is being opened in 2008. The center will serve youth, the elderly, and female migrants from Eastern Europe who have come to Sicily in search of work. Scicli, a Methodist congregation, will open a similar center in 2009; their center will also incorporate their preschool. Each congregation is struggling to rediscover God's purpose for its ministry after having been in existence for over 100 years.
How Are We Doing What God Is Asking?
Dave serves as pastor of both Pachino and Scicli, which are an hour's drive apart. In addition to pastoring these two churches, Dave serves as director of the Pachino preschool, which has 50 children and six employees. He is also the CEO of the Waldensian Nursing Home in Vittoria, which has 78 residents and 42 employees. By incorporating a strong emphasis on diaconal work within the congregations, and by inviting RCA mission teams to serve in Sicily, church members will be invigorated for further service, outreach, and evangelism.
Who Is Our Partner?
The Waldensian church in Italy began in the eleventh century. Despite centuries of persecution and change, the Waldensians have remained true to the principles of the Reformation. Though their membership totals only about 30,000, the Waldensian churches have developed an outstanding diaconal ministry that includes hospitals, care homes, and an orphanage. In 1975 the Waldensian Church in Italy signed an agreement of federation with the Methodist Church in Italy. The two denominations hold joint meetings, share church structures at the regional and national level, and exchange pastors.
Up Close and Personal
Dave started out in missions in his college days, through RCA Volunteer Services. "My college summers of service in Appalachia began a spiritual maturation process of service to others via Christ's love," he says. "In return, I have gained so much spiritually." He also volunteered in China. Before moving to Italy, Dave spent eight years as an RCA missionary in Hungary, where he empowered university students for ministry and helped build relationships between Hungarian students, pastors, and mission teams from RCA congregations. Dave has three children, Nick, Katie, and Ellie.