CWM’s New Moderator & New Treasurer
Rev D.C.Haia Darnei, is the newly elected CWM Moderator. He was ordained in the Presbyterian Church of India (PCI) in 1987. He is married to Rohluopuii and they have two daughters. Mr John Ellis, the newly elected Treasurer is an Elder and the Moderator of the General Assembly of the United Reformed Church (URC). He is the Treasurer of the URC.
HEALING THE BROKEN BODY: HOPING FOR RENEWAL
“Would you harbour me?”
Bible study: Judges 19-21
In the midst of a painful, bewildering and stirring Bible study this question rang out: Would you harbour me? It arose from the abject edge of one of the Bible’s most vicious texts in Judges 19-21. For many of us the experiences described through the biblical story and the historical and contemporary experience of Black and Brown people hurt, confused and appalled us.
Dr Leath confronted us with deep and systematic injustice facing many people precisely because of their race, gender, and sexual orientation. We found it hard. So hard. Some of us recognised our own experiences. Some of us could not, would not take it in. Some of us felt we wanted to cry: ‘Yes, we would harbour you’. But, none of us can underestimate how hard this is, that this is an easy answer to a situation getting worse. One wonders if we could make ourselves as vulnerable as we need to be to live out such an answer. As vulnerable as our Bible study leader made herself amongst us.
The first of the Assembly’s explorations of sub-themes was led by Rev Dr Vuyani Vellem. Prof. Vellem gave a passionate and engaging presentation on what ‘Healing the Broken Body: Hoping for Renewal’ means for the South African context. Presenting the continuation in contemporary South Africa of the realities of the apartheid era, and offering the context that healing is a contentious issue in Black African churches, Prof Vellem spoke of healing to the African church being a journey of transformation from what is, to what ought to be.
“The husk of empire is hardening”
For Prof Vellem, healing should be viewed through the prism of Ubuntu – I am because you are. This central aspect of African ethics affirms the common experience of humanity: “Like a net, the bonds that hold together the ‘I’ and the ‘we’, allow us to live. When the bonds are ruptured there is no net, there is no ‘I’ and there is no ‘we’”.
Prof Vellem challenged the Assembly to recognise the reality of church complicity in Empire and by extension that if the forces of Empire are responsible for atrocities, such as genocide, “it leads us to the conclusion that church can be genocidal”.
Prof. Vellem gave the Assembly a hopeful challenge that declared that “once people stand up in unity they create powerful structures” that can exist to support humanity rather than for its own interest. Prof. Vellum’s powerful presentation provoked discussion throughout the Assembly and we ask you to join us in offering our thanks to him for his work.
STORIES FROM THE REGIONS
The mission story of the Pacific emphasized two missional issues namely, the issue of nuclear testing victims who are still seeking compensation and climate change and its threat to inhabitants of entire islands, in some cases. In the face of these challenges the people of the Pacific demonstrated defiant hope to save the drowning islands. Other highlights include the ordination of the first two women ministers in Nauru in Nov 2015 and the visible participation of youth and children in the life of the church.
The Caribbean region’s theme ‘Hope in challenging times’ has inspired hopeful missional action in response to contextual issues. The Guyana Congregational Union (GCU) runs a micro-credit scheme for economic empowerment. The United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands (UCJCI) joined hands with ecumenical partners to reach out to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. Renewal of youth ministry in GCU includes a youth-initiated empowerment network. UCJCI has developed a child protection policy to keep children safe at church. In the Cayman Islands, hopeful actions include a pantry kitchen, soup kitchens and care for the environment through beach cleaning efforts by the church. Member churches build awareness around the issue of human trafficking through advocacy and activism.
Views On Bible Study
Did the leader provide you with a new insight into the text from Judges?
The way she put it was interesting. Although I feel we got quite far from Judges itself; we need to let God’s word speak for what it is rather than let our own words supersede it. I don’t think I received any insight into the text itself. It seemed like she had an agenda and looked for a story that would fit it instead of receiving the agenda from God’s word.
Did you feel the social issues talked about relate to the bible text?
They are somewhat relatable in as much as suffering is present in both. Specifically, the woman in the text suffered dearly, her life was taken! My question however is what answers do the text give to these issues- the answers given didn’t come from Judges. We can often go for the easy, popular answer instead of biblical reference. The answer is: Jesus Christ came to renew this broken, fallen reality- he came to restore this humanity to God, came to bring hope and salvation. The text from Judges does not make sense without Jesus. Therefore, they do relate but the speaker failed to relate them today.
SPECTACULAR KOREAN CULTURE NIGHT
CWM delegates, staff and guests were treated to a night of colourful Korean culture on Tuesday June 21. Traditional dances and a Pansori Performance were the items in the lineup.
“Totally absorbing” is how one person described the depiction of the crucifixion of Jesus by Rev. Sun Woo Kim, Senior Pastor of Suncheon Gu Sang Church of the PCK and his wife in a Pansori performance.
Pansori is musical storytelling done in the Korean genre and has existed since the 17th century. His performance was a part of a musical storytelling on Jesus.
The Jeju Special Self-Governing Provincial Dance Company presented items unique to Jeju which included a creative fan dance called Buchae Chum.
Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Mr Yong Gi Won expressed the wish that the Assembly “would be the cornerstone for improving world peace and embodying justice.”
CWM Assembly News Issue #2 – Assembly News_Weds