CWM Ltd. Board of Directors & CWM UK Trustees 2016-2020
The 5th CWM Assembly elected a slate of 12 Board of Directors and 6 CWM UK Trustees on Wednesday June 22, 2016 in accordance with the new governance structure of the organization.
“The ‘little town of Bethlehem’ has become a large open air prison”
Rev Dr Mitri Raheb led the Assembly in a heart-breaking journey through the reality that Palestinians face on a daily basis. Palestinian Christians are the bearers of the ancient legacy of the Christian faith. The whole world owes a great debt to their perseverance in the face of multiple imperial structures throughout history.
“Walls in Palestine are omnipresent”
Both literally and metaphorically walls and barriers are a fundamental part of a Palestinian Christian’s daily experience. The empire that dominates their lives has combined the oppressive powers of military dominance and economic oppression, which can be seen in the powerful image of the checkpoints that litter the country. The future of the region is at significant risk from the implications of climate change, adding further misery to the lives of the people that inhabit the most militarised area on earth.
“Hope is living in reality, with all its pain, but investing in a different one”
Rev Dr Raheb called to the church to engage a spirituality that challenges imperial theology; employs creativity as a tool to dismantle the ‘software’ of empire thinking; and that nurtures hope. For Dr Raheb, “faith is about imagination, but it is more about hope”. Imagination is the ability to see an alternative. Hope is what we do. It does not wait for vision to come. The challenge that “hope is faith in action” will be familiar to Assembly, but this call comes from the heart of those living in the very midst of empire. The whole CWM Assembly prays for all caught in its web.
“De-materializing Spirituality is a denial of the real needs of people.”
Dr Revelation Velunta
CWM Youth Pre-Assembly: Brings Joy and Wisdom to the Assembly…
The young disciples in our midst gave an invigorating and powerful display of their talent to Assembly.
In response to the theme and as a statement to Assembly, the youth pre-assembly group spoke of equality, stewardship and evangelism and church growth, as well as of the challenge to the church to be active in the pursuit of God’s kingdom on earth. The group chose to respond in three ways: through a written statement, visual art, and music and drama.
“Christ is able to sustain His people as we attempt to heal His world”
The written statement has been circulated in full and the working group that was commissioned to produce it has done an exceptional job. The statement begins by placing the context of their response as a cry to God and a call to all who identify as followers of Christ to ‘follow His radical example’: ‘Our faith in Christ should lead to good works and urgent action to heal our broken world’ (p1). It then places emphasis of the response into three areas: Equality, Stewardship and Evangelism and Church Growth.
Equality was considered through the lenses of gender, age and race; Stewardship recognises not only the reality of climate change but also the role of the economy in shaping the way we interact with the Earth; and Evangelism and Church Growth is the Youth Pre-Assembly’s call for fresh, creative and faithful approaches to empowering Christians to share the love and word of God with all of humanity. The statement closes with a rallying cry for unity in the face of Empire:
‘To act effectively we need to strengthen our church institutions by co-operating with each other so we can do more outreach and spread Jesus’ gospel. The worldwide community of CWM is amazing; it is an umbrella of hope. An umbrella protects all our regions, from sun or from rain and CWM has the ability to protect everyone from injustice, discrimination and most importantly hopelessness. The bigger the umbrella the more protection it can give and the more hope it can provide so let’s act together, as one church, to reduce suffering and restore hope’.
It was a pleasure to hear from the Youth Pre-Assembly and we join in celebrating the youth delegates for the 2016 Assembly who have represented their sending churches and regions wonderfully.
“We are the chosen generation to bring healing and change to the world!” they declared.
Bible study: John 6:1-14
Healing Relationships: Hoping For A New Spirituality
Feeding Us: Body, Mind & System
Dr Revelation Velunta began by painting a vivid picture of extreme hunger in the world where some cannot even afford a cup of soup. He illustrated that reality with some examples of national spending on luxury goods that far outweighs the food bill of some poorer countries. It is instructive that the word spirit derives from words that signify ‘breath’ (ruach, pneuma, anima). Breath is that which keeps people alive. A spirituality that does not take seriously the skewed balance of wealth in the world is thus inadequate. Matthew 25:31-46 and Luke 4:18-19, indicate that soup is more than food. The challenge to provide soup for the hungry is a call to address systemic oppression: just wages for workers, homes for the homeless, justice for the oppressed, care for the sick and dying, welcoming the stranger and refugee, land for the landless, liberation for those in bondage and captivity, independence for Palestine, solidarity with the marginalised. Jesus’ commitment to actualising the jubilee (Lev. 25) meant that he addressed people’s real needs. When we share our bread and fish, when we seek a world where there is soup for all, we are creating a fresh spirituality in which Jesus is powerfully present, converting us and our systems to his way of life.
What do you think is the biggest challenge for a modern day Christian? Is it freely giving financially and performing charitable acts or being brave enough to share the gospel?
By giving time and money you can spread the word of God. By meeting physical needs or by leading workshops, Bible study or mission programmes you are doing God’s work and therefore spreading his word. You cannot teach the word of God without sharing what you have with others.
Dr Velunta said the US alone has enough resources to feed 40 billion people and that Europeans annually spend 105 billion pounds on alcoholic drinks. How does this make you feel? Can you see a clear solution to this constraining Empire?
The Empire itself does not stop us from meeting and recognising the needs of our neighbours. The global community has sufficient resources to solve these problems but these figures don’t show us where we need to make the changes. Spending figures don’t mean everything. Take clothes for example, we think we are economical when we shop at Primark but this is Empire! We do not think about whether our purchase is helping someone else in the world. The solution is about how we distribute the resources we have. We shouldn’t waste what we have been given but think of every resource carefully. I think we feel challenged about this Empire because we’re Europeans but you cannot blame everyone personally, some are trying to live their lives as fairly as they can.
Download CWM Assembly News #3: Assembly News – Thursday