CONTINUING THE JOURNEY OF HOPE
The General Secretary’s report reflected on the journey since the last Assembly in 2012 held in Pago Pago under the theme Hope: The Language of Life, highlighting CWM conversations towards shaping advocacy work on disability.
Rev. Dr Collin Cowan presented a working document of the CWM Strategy of programme of work for 2016 to 2019 against the backdrop of the vision and values of CWM. The vehicle for implementation will be the six programmes, namely:
- Mission Support Programme (MSP)
- Capacity Development Programme (CDP)
- Partners In Mission (PIM)
- Leadership Formation (LEAF)
- Discernment and Radical Engagement (DARE)
- Cutting Edge Mission Initiatives (CEMI)
The nine global themes adopted in 2015 June Council have been woven into the programmes. The three subthemes of the 2016 Assembly will undergird annual programmes,
- Healing the Broken Body: Hope for Renewal (2017)
- Healing Relationships: Hoping for a New Spirituality (2018) and
- Healing Towards the Future: Hope for Tomorrow (2019).
The journey of hope that began in Pago Pago continues as Healing: Hope in Action for 2016-2019. The GS’s report ended with a prayerful singing of We shall overcome someday.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE KEYNOTE ADDRESS
Rev. Dr Hadsell explored the theme by presenting a frame of what she termed the three grand narratives that she argued undergird normative assumptions and principles that shape our world and pose a challenge to the Christian narrative. They are:
- The Global economy which shapes individual lives, family and society based on a zero sum game of win and lose. The call of the church in this scenario is to disrupt and question the status quo in a variety of ways.
- Human relationship to nature which has been shaped by a human-centred approach that denies the intrinsic value of nature and promotes an instrumentalist view that the rest of creation exists to satisfy human needs. The view that creation has no intrinsic value is antithetical to Christian thought. Everything has value not only in so far as it can be sold or bought and belongs to someone.
- The question of the other is a central moral question. Dr Hadsell highlighted three responses to difference (ethnicity, gender, culture, race or religion). She recounted the ways difference is dealt with as
- Assimilation – making difference disappear
- Making the ‘other’ disappear (through violence, death, imprisonment)
- Letting the other be ‘other’ (accept the responsibility of living with diversity)
She appreciatively noted that, in the main, Christians recognise difference and celebrate it but mainly only within Christian communities. Healing: Hope in Action is a Christian responsibility that demands working with others as ‘other’. Christians, while drinking from wells of their own tradition need not be dismissive of other faith traditions with whom they would partner for healing in the world.
THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT…
The Presbyterian Church of Korea (PCK) presented the divided context of Korea through the prophetic testimonies of the separated families of the Korean war and the Halmoni, women forced into sex slavery by the Japanese in the Second World War. These stories of pain became stories of hope. The Halmoni support female victims of sexual violence around the world through their ‘Butterfly Fund’ Their story of anguish and pain, has been transformed into hope by their acts of healing in action.
“How amazing it would be if we began a deliberate mission of healing that counteracted our tendency to either withdraw in shame or fear or retaliate in anger when hurt and damaged. What if, instead we humbly allowed God to use our pain and suffering as a catalyst for compassion and healing?”
The Very Rev. Pamela Tankersley
CWM YOUTH PRE-ASSEMBLY: A TIME SPENT TOGETHER AND WITH GOD
From 14th -17th June, before the CWM Assembly began, the youth delegates and stewards met together at a Pre-assembly also held in Jeju. It was a blessed time of joy, friendship, sharing, worship and, above all else, work! The young people spent time in sessions considering the Assembly theme; the stewards underwent orientation and training sessions during which time the youth delegates considered their nomination to the Board of Directors.
Having done all of that, the whole group dreamt of a future Youth Forum that will engage young people to consider themes around the church and responding to social justice and helping to develop young disciples.
Responding to the theme
Having talked about what the theme meant to them as individuals and having shared in depth about how their contexts differ and share similarities, the group was given space to respond which they did by way of a written statement, visual art, and music and drama. Each group performed exceptionally, giving expression in beautiful, creative, thoughtful and meaningful ways. The written statement will be presented to the Assembly later in the week along with the presentations of the other creative responses and we are looking forward to hearing the full voice of the Youth Pre-Assembly on Wednesday!
THE WORLD COMES TO JEJU
Under the early afternoon East Asian sun the worldwide family of Council for World Mission gathered for the 2016 General Assembly at Jeju Seongahn Presbyterian Church on Sunday June 19th on Jeju Island, South Korea. The fluttering flags of member churches and their respective countries were teased by the gentle afternoon wind as, with palpable mounting excitement, the 129 delegates representing 32 member churches in 40 countries around the world assembled for the procession. At 4pm the signal was given and the procession began, thus culminating a year’s work towards this event.
Download the PDF version of CWM ASSEMBLY NEWSLETTER #1: Assembly News_Tues