Farrell to lead World Mission Initiative at Pittsburgh seminary

Hunter Farrell, who is stepping down as head of World Mission for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), announced Oct. 5 that he has accepted a call to serve as director of the World Mission Initiative at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.

Hunter Farrell (photo by Leslie Scanlon)

Farrell, 58, said his new position will begin in January and will include teaching about mission at Pittsburgh seminary. In a recent interview with the Outlook, Farrell said:

“I think the church needs to step up and show how we’re engaging in those global issues with our partners around the world. It’s a good time to work at a college or seminary and look for ways to connect young adults with what God’s doing in the world.”

Donald J. Dawson, who has lead the World Mission Institute and also has served as director of the New Wilmington Mission Conference, announced earlier this fall that he will retire Oct. 31.

On the Pittsburgh seminary website, the World Mission Initiative (WMI) describes its purpose this way:

“World Mission Initiative of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary is dedicated to developing mission vision, nurturing missionary vocations, and cultivating missional congregations by helping Christians understand how God is at work in the world and how they can share in that work. WMI offers resources to serve congregations and students.

World Mission Initiative is celebrating 20 years of ministry! Over the years, WMI has hosted 10 biennial conferences, countless workshops and global mission guests, and more than 300 seminary students into faith-stretching and ministry-shaping global mission experiences.”

Farrell will leave his position as director of PC(USA) World Mission as of Oct. 14. He gave the Outlook permission to share this news regarding his new position, which he posted on his personal Facebook page:

I’m thankful to be able to share with you the news that I have accepted a call to serve as the director of the World Mission Initiative (WMI) of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. The work will include teaching mission at the Seminary.

Beginning in January, I have been asked to lead the WMI in its effort to connect Pittsburgh Seminary students and the congregations it serves to God’s global mission in ways that strengthen the Seminary’s commitment to experiential education, bring together justice and evangelism, and build linkages between local and global mission. I’m humbled to be invited to continue the ground-breaking work that retiring director Don Dawson so ably began 20 years ago in helping church leaders draw from the deep well of mission experience, wisdom and faithfulness that Christians in the Global South are eager to share with us.

The chance to work under the innovative leadership of Pittsburgh Seminary President David Esterline— a world-class authority on cross-cultural theological education— and his team of Faculty Dean Heather Vacek and Vice President for Community Engagement John Welch is a major reason for my acceptance of this invitation. At a time when the Church and the world are crying out for creative, compassionate and culturally proficient leaders who understand mission as following in the way of Jesus, I see Pittsburgh Seminary moving forward in ways that excite and encourage me.

Most of all, I’m giving thanks to God for connecting my passion for mission with emerging generations of leadership for the new Church that is still being formed. I can’t wait to learn all they have to teach me. Thank you for your prayers for this time of discernment and transition. I look forward to deepening our connection in God’s mission!

With you in Christ,


In a recent interview with Outlook reporter Leslie Scanlon, Farrell looked back on his 30 years with World Mission – starting as a volunteer in mission in the Republic of Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo), and continuing with years of work in Africa and Peru. The full interview can be found here.

The Presbyterian Mission Agency Board honored Hunter Farrell for his years of service with World Mission at the board's meeting Sept. 16.
The Presbyterian Mission Agency Board honored Hunter Farrell for his years of service with World Mission at the board’s meeting Sept. 16.