The weekend of the 4th-6th March 2016 saw the delegates for the CWM Assembly from Europe come together for orientation and fellowship. The programme offered the delegates an overview of CWM’s history, its governance and structure, the nature and scope of the Assembly, as well as helpful information pertaining to the logistics of the Assembly.
Meaningful and challenging bible study was led by guests from the Netherlands and India; both of whom led the Pre-Assembly in lively discussion on Old Testament biblical narratives of healing and the call for Christians to live out this healing in the world. The imagery of Moses and the method of improvised theatre formed the first bible study, during which healing was framed as a response to injustice and suffering. On Sunday, the valley of dry bones was used to consider what we understand healing to mean in our contexts and to grapple with the immense challenge that God has put before us of brining healing into those places.
Keynote addresses were given by the CWM General Secretary, Rev. Dr Collin Cowan and UWI minister and former CWM Director Rev. Dyfrig Rees. Rev. Dr Cowan offered the Europe region the opportunity to understand its missionary contribution to the history of global mission and to the CWM family. This history is not without its controversy, which Dr Cowan sensitively challenged, but it also offers stories of great love and commitment. The call to the churches in the Europe region today, for Cowan, is to re-imagine its future contributions to global mission, starting with the forthcoming CWM Assembly.
Rev. Rees offered a moving and passionate narrative of the Welsh mining town, Aberfan, which commemorates the fiftieth anniversary of the disaster that claimed the lives of 116 people, mostly children of the town primary school, when a slag heap of waste from the local mine collapsed and engulfed the town. Rev. Rees explained that the heart wrenching pain of the disaster was compounded by the lack of compassion and humanity displayed by the British government and National Coal Board towards the victims and their families, as well as a shocking lack of decency displayed by the media coverage. Rev. Rees gave insight into the extraordinary love shown by local churches and church leaders in the midst of such pain which went some way to bringing healing to the people of Aberfan. In that place, healing meant the bringing together of people that were being separated by grief caused by their common experience, reuniting people and ensuring human contact and community prevailed over separation, despair and hatred.
The whole weekend was punctuated by laughter and fellowship and all in attendance spoke of eager anticipation for the CWM Assembly in June. God’s blessing was apparent throughout the weekend and it is our prayer that this friendship brings the whole Assembly together and forward in God’s grace.