Theme Expression by Rev Zaidie Orr, United Reformed Church, UK

Zaidie OrrThe theme is the next stage along the journey of hope. It provides continuity from the previous Assembly and reflects the current need for healing and hope in the wider world. It presents us with the opportunity for building bridges rather than walls.

The biblical reference which resonates is Revelation 22:2 ‘the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations’. For me the tree offers much more than healing, but shade and nourishment which in turn brings comfort. Exodus 6:6 which reassures us that the Lord will ‘bring his people out from under the yoke of slavery and … will redeem you with an outstretched arm’, communicates the hope of being freed and redeemed, which takes the action of being healed to the next stage. Romans 15:13 offers us healing in unity. Paul calls the Roman church to recognise that they need to support the weak and to bear each other’s burdens. He challenges us in the midst of many diverse viewpoints to respect each other.

While the CWM Assembly is underway, the people of the UK will be voting either to remain in, or leave the European Union (EU). The arguments are being well made on both sides but to date there is no clear indication which way the country will go. Sadly, one of the arguments in the debate is the subject of immigration, and Britain’s ability to keep tighter control of its borders.

The fact that the movement of people could benefit all (the British could seek opportunities in Europe), and has long been a historical factor in Europe, has hardly been heard. Alongside the issues, some of the debates have been taken to a personal level. There will therefore be a need for healing once the decision is made. Whatever, the outcome, we will need to pray and hope that our actions will be based on hospitality, mutuality and love for our neighbours and hence imply healing.

My church community consists of a number of congregations of which there are four ecumenical partnerships. I am fairly new to the community and the churches. I am still learning about their history and finding out what is important to them. However, in the time that I have been sharing ministry with them, I have noticed a real willingness to engage with the community, either through creative worship or social events which have a focus on Christ. The churches have a very positive orientation to the future and with the introduction of Team Ministry we are all working to the next stage in our faith-life together.

There is a recognition that the journey will be difficult. We are trying to discern what way God is leading us by ‘stepping out and letting go’. Sharing our fears and hopes with God is not a passive approach, but one which requires action. The expected changes will involve a large number of people and will bring about a need for healing.  As a team of ministers, we aim to seek God’s will as we grow in knowledge and faith.

Personally, I seek spiritual healing which brings hope, when God finally finds a home in humanity. This offers the opportunity for those on the margins of our society to be redeemed.


Zaidie Orr, United Reformed Church (URC)

Theme Expression by Prof. Victor Hsu, Presbyterian Church in Taiwan

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At the 2012 CWM Assembly, the member churches affirmed hope as the language of life. They did so amidst a world of suffering, disappointment, death and destruction. Christians must indeed proclaim that God is the salvation and hope of the world. The delegates of 2014 were impelled to affirm hope and speak the language of life because they could not do otherwise if they were to proclaim that Jesus is the life of the world.

At the 2016 World Assembly we affirm hope as healing in action because hope provides direction, it inspires and it motivates towards vitality and fullness of life. Hope sustains therefore sustains life. Without hope there can be no healing because hope infuses dynamism as the Church pilgrimages together towards justice, peace and fullness of life for all.

Healing must be part of collective engagement because the Word became flesh in order to reconcile and heal all that alienates from wholeness. The entire ministry of Jesus, his death and resurrection was reconciliation and healing par excellence. The CWM member churches are called by God to participate in such Christ-like healing. We are inspired by our vision: “fullness of life through Christ for all creation”. The God of justice, whose purpose is revealed and lived through Jesus of Nazareth, calls the churches to partnership with Christ. We need to mutually challenge and encourage each other to share in God’s mission.

Speaking contextually, healing is a great need in East Asia. Despite apparent prosperit, there is still conflict between nations. For instance, the China-Taiwan, Japan-Korea, the division of Korea and the unsettled territorial disputes about Diouyutai (Senkaku) and the Spratley Islands that exist between the Russian Federation and Japan. The ministry of healing and reconciliation is crucial for the prevention of outright violence and war and for harmonious relations to undergird the long-term security and welfare of the people. Within countries, the “wealth” of this sub-region is built on the backs and sacrifices of workers whose work environments and benefits are not legally protected. As a result, immense numbers of migrant workers are ill-treated and under-paid. Many young people in the region remain unemployed and elderly care is becoming an increasing need and concern. Social ills all over the region remain a serious challenge. The church whose Lord promised life in all its fullness need to constantly seek what that means in the face of these challenges.

At a personal level, I am constantly challenged to ensure that I contribute to the process of realizing healing for those who suffer and struggle to make sense of their condition. I ask myself constantly how to be an agent of renewal and hope.

As a nation, Taiwan is fighting for its place in the sun. It aspires towards the right to self-determination, to take its place among the nations and to be a country that enjoys its own sovereignty. At the moment it is alienated from the community of nations.

As a church, the Presbyterian Church of Taiwan (PCT) faces serious management issues in some of its institutions where the boards are refusing to honor the jurisdiction of the PCT General Assembly. Without a resolution to such discord and conflict, healing and reconciliation are impossible.
Victor Hsu Associate General Secretary for Ecumenical Relations Presbyterian Church in Taiwan (PCT)

At the 2012 CWM Assembly, the member churches affirmed hope as the language of life. They did so amidst a world of suffering, disappointment, death and destruction. Christians must indeed proclaim that God is the salvation and hope of the world. The delegates of 2014 were impelled to affirm hope and speak the language of life because they could not do otherwise if they were to proclaim that Jesus is the life of the world.

At the 2016 World Assembly we affirm hope as healing in action because hope provides direction, it inspires and it motivates towards vitality and fullness of life. Hope sustains therefore sustains life. Without hope there can be no healing because hope infuses dynamism as the Church pilgrimages together towards justice, peace and fullness of life for all.

Healing must be part of collective engagement because the Word became flesh in order to reconcile and heal all that alienates from wholeness. The entire ministry of Jesus, his death and resurrection was reconciliation and healing par excellence. The CWM member churches are called by God to participate in such Christ-like healing. We are inspired by our vision: “fullness of life through Christ for all creation”. The God of justice, whose purpose is revealed and lived through Jesus of Nazareth, calls the churches to partnership with Christ. We need to mutually challenge and encourage each other to share in God’s mission.

Speaking contextually, healing is a great need in East Asia. Despite apparent prosperit, there is still conflict between nations. For instance, the China-Taiwan, Japan-Korea, the division of Korea and the unsettled territorial disputes about Diouyutai (Senkaku) and the Spratley Islands that exist between the Russian Federation and Japan. The ministry of healing and reconciliation is crucial for the prevention of outright violence and war and for harmonious relations to undergird the long-term security and welfare of the people. Within countries, the “wealth” of this sub-region is built on the backs and sacrifices of workers whose work environments and benefits are not legally protected. As a result, immense numbers of migrant workers are ill-treated and under-paid. Many young people in the region remain unemployed and elderly care is becoming an increasing need and concern. Social ills all over the region remain a serious challenge. The church whose Lord promised life in all its fullness need to constantly seek what that means in the face of these challenges.

At a personal level, I am constantly challenged to ensure that I contribute to the process of realizing healing for those who suffer and struggle to make sense of their condition. I ask myself constantly how to be an agent of renewal and hope.

As a nation, Taiwan is fighting for its place in the sun. It aspires towards the right to self-determination, to take its place among the nations and to be a country that enjoys its own sovereignty. At the moment it is alienated from the community of nations.

As a church, the Presbyterian Church of Taiwan (PCT) faces serious management issues in some of its institutions where the boards are refusing to honour the jurisdiction of the PCT General Assembly. Without a resolution to such discord and conflict, healing and reconciliation are impossible.


Victor Hsu Associate General Secretary for Ecumenical Relations Presbyterian Church in Taiwan (PCT)

Theme Expression by Elder Chong Kai Lee, Presbysterian Church in Singapore

Chong KaiHope comes after faith and is followed by love in the passage of 1 Corinthians 13:13 that binds faith, hope and love together. Hebrews 11:1 says, ‘Now Faith is being sure of what we Hope for and certain of what we do not see.’ Faith, vision and hope are therefore held together. But all three would amount to nothing if they are not expressed in love expressed through charitable action.

Hope is a powerful and basic reason for living. Together with vision, faith and love, hope can overcome what look like impossible difficulties. Yet, how long can hope endure without signs of incremental progress in the face of those difficulties?  To keep hope alive, we need to take bold actions based on our faith. Practical steps taken according to God’s word, some changes in our circumstances.  The Psalmist says, ‘Sustain me according to your promise, and I will live; do not let my hope be dashed’ (Psalm 119:116).

Healing is an active process. It is a process of restoration or change for the better until the desired outcome is attained. It could come in small incremental steps, or it could be an overnight miracle. In either case, the outcome sustains hope. And hope, in turn strengthens faith and stimulates the process of healing and restoration.

Healing, Hope in Action, our Assembly 2016 theme, is therefore an excellent follow-up to the 2012 Assembly theme, Hope, the Language of Life. It is a necessary call to action. For faith, hope and love without action and fruit are meaningless. This call to action is timely as our mission gains urgency with each passing day.

In the context of Singapore, we recently celebrated SG50, 50 years of nationhood. In 1965 Singapore was abruptly “cut off” from federation with Malaysia which was considered a source of survival. Many predicted that it would wither and disappear. The task of nation-building required the healing of relationships; building trust between communities and infrastructure expansion; and the rehabilitation and restoration of our natural environment. Today, “new water” from previously murky swamps and waterways is fit for drinking because of the foresight of early leaders. Fifty years is not long for nation building. For that reason some call Singapore’s national evolution into an impressive cosmopolitan city-state, a miracle. Many Singaporean Christians believe that the process enjoyed God’s gracious favour.

Singapore’s success has however brought new challenges, one of which is an increasingly aging population. The pressures of “modern” city life have led to the breakdown of family ties and less emphasis on filial piety which supported elderly care within family structures. There is therefore a strong and growing demand for elder care in Singapore.

A few days ago, Elizabeth, a “resident” in a nursing home, begged me with tears to pray for God “to take her home tonight”. At 93, she suffers considerable emotional and physical pain. She has no hope and no perceived purpose for her earthly life. I hugged her and prayed for her for God’s comfort and relief from pain. Thank God that someone had led her to faith in Jesus Christ and. She may not experience bodily healing in this life but she has the sure hope that she will soon be able to rest in His bosom, free from physical and emotional pain.

Unfortunately, for every Elizabeth, there are many more Marys and Johns who do not know Jesus and are languishing in elderly homes without hope. Part of the missional call for us in Singapore entails connecting with the elderly to bring hope into their lives.


Elder Lee Chong Kai, Presbyterian Church in Singapore (PCS)

Theme Expression by Mrs Rose Wedderburn, United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands

 The CWM Assembly theme is appropriate for this time in our journey as we reflect on our mission as a body called into partnership in Christ’s mission. Healing: Hope in Action calls each member Church of CWM and the CWM Secretariat to reflect on and identify where we need healing and what we can do to facilitate healing. How can that healing both affirm the hope Christ has placed in us through His resurrection? How can we allow new hope to spring forth? What do we need to do to position ourselves to claim possibilities for healing yet to be embraced? In what ways will that lead to the renewal of peoples and the transformation of communities?

There are many issues in our personal lives, our relationships, our churches and our nations that need healing. This theme offers us the opportunity to address these issues in an honest and forthright way. It invites us to find solutions which will bring about healing. Healing: hope in action speaks to the fact that healing not only springs from hope but that healing provides the spring board for hope as well.

A popular saying among many Christians is, “while there is life there is hope”. The depth of this saying goes beyond our physical existence and wellbeing. It speaks to the Easter story. Because Jesus Christ lives, we too have life and life in all its fullness (Jn 10:10). And life in all its fullness is a life full of hopeful possibilities. Christ demonstrated Healing: hope in action in a number of situations after His resurrection.

The message of Christ’s resurrection was first given to the women who went to the tomb on that first day of the week. Women were therefore first to see the risen Christ. By this act, Jesus affirms that women are vital to the ministry of the Gospel. That was a healing moment for the women who continued the work of hope in action as they share the news of Jesus’ resurrection with the disciples.

After the resurrection Jesus reached out to the disciples who had betrayed Him before his crucifixion. While Judas was the main betrayer, in a sense all the disciples had betrayed him as they fled in fear. In an attempt to bring healing, Jesus sent word to all his disciples that He would see them in Galilee. He later prepared breakfast for them and ate it with them on the beach!

The risen Christ mentioned Peter by name in the message to the disciples and later reinstated and commissioned him by giving him the threefold, “Feed my lambs”. Further, Peter’s confession of Christ would set the foundation on which the Christian church would be established. Peter who had denied Jesus three times, experienced a healing moment that came with the assurance that abject failure does not lead to rejection by the Lord.

Jamaica is faced with a number of issues needing Healing: Hope in Action. These include a decline in moral standards, high incidence of crime and violence, lottery scamming, human trafficking, abuse, neglect, and murder of children, missing children, conflict and tension in family life, unemployment and wage freezes, corruption, inadequate care of the environment and outbreak of diseases such as ZIKV. The Cayman Islands has some similar issues such as increasing lawlessness and increase in crime rate, moral indifference, unemployment and underemployment, increasing population with limited institutional safety-nets on which to build.

As an individual, Healing: Hope in Action is both a need and a responsibility. Even as I hope and seek healing for my brokenness, I must allow myself to be used by God to make Healing: Hope in Action a reality for others.

While there is much brokenness in Jamaica and Cayman, the situation is not hopeless. We are convinced of God’s commitment and capacity to bring about healing. The experience of healing and new hope will spring forth in our communities and countries only through God.

We affirm the scripture below and hope for its realisation in our countries:

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV)

With the outcome being that:

No longer will violence be heard in your land,     nor ruin or destruction within your borders, but you will call your walls Salvation     and your gates Praise. (Isaiah 60:18 NIV)

The church has to be the balm of Gilead as it grasps its high calling in Christ to set the example for the society to follow so that people can indeed report what they see as John’s disciples were instructed by Jesus to report.

“Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy[a]are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. (Luke &:22NIV)

The quote below aptly speaks to what we would want to achieve out of this theme:

“ It is Easter time, and Jesus’ rising gives us hope for new times ahead. Everything can be different. Stones can be rolled aside. Graves can be opened forever. Tears can be overcome. There will be an end to fear. Every question will receive an answer. Light is stronger than any darkness. Happiness comes to those who are sad, Peace touches downcast hearts. The powerful have lost and the humble are triumphant. Violence and hate cannot withstand love. The chains of oppression are broken. Truth embraces justice, and justice and peace kiss each other. Memories are no longer painful, and it is no longer a sin to dream. The gates of heaven are opened and God smiles down. Love has triumphed. Jesus is alive, and a new world is a possibility. (Gerardo Oberman)


Rose Wedderburn, Regional Deputy General Secretary, United Church in Jamaica and Cayman Islands (UCJCI)

 

Theme Expression by Rev Jeff Williams, Union of Welsh Independents

Rev JeffIf we aspire to be agents of healing then in all circumstances we must be ready to embrace that which we seek to heal. We cannot stand apart. The following poem, from Wales, suggests that healing, in its broadest sense, is one of the signs of the Kingdom of God.

The Kingdom
It’s a long way off but inside it
There are quite different things going on:
Festivals at which the poor man
Is king and the consumptive is
Healed;
mirrors in which the blind look
At themselves and love looks at them
Back; and industry is for mending
The bent bones and the minds fractured
By life.
It’s a long way off, but to get
There takes no time and admission
Is free, if you purge yourself
Of desire,
and present yourself with
Your need only and the simple offering
Of your faith,
green as a leaf.

R. S. Thomas (29 March 1913 – 25 September 2000), was a Welsh poet and Anglican priest who was noted for his spirituality and deep dislike of the anglicisation of Wales. He was one of the major English language and European poets of the 20th century.


Jeff Williams
Union of Welsh Independents (UWI)

Theme Expression by Rev Phil King, Presbyterian Church of Aorearoa New Zealand

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As I reflected on the theme, Healing, Hope in Action I recalled the story of our incoming moderator who shared with our staff team how an event in which he received physical healing and relief from pain triggered a renewed hope in him. While the healing was physical, his reaction was much more than that.  He left the hospital with a sense of well-being and a deep feeling of hope; hope not just for himself but for the world. This made such a deep impression on him that he has used this experience to develop his theme for our General Assembly, “Hope for the World.” After hearing his story and sensing the impact it had on him, I too felt more hopeful!

It is an interesting reaction, and illustrates the truth that there is a deep connection between our physical , mental, and spiritual well-being. Chronic pain can drag us down, cause depression, and loss of energy. Healing, on the other hand, lifts our vision and our spirits and gives us new energy for life. Witness the blind man whom Jesus healed, or the crippled man of Acts 3, who, when restored to health, went “walking, and leaping and praising God.”  In the modern world, the sacred is often separated from the secular and the physical is divided from the spiritual. But we cannot be separated into physical and spiritual beings. How we are physically affects our mind, heart, and spirit.

When Jesus healed, he did not do so in order that the one healed would simply believe in him and be “saved” in a spiritual sense. The healing restored them to life in all its fullness; to contribute and to be productive. It gave renewed hope, restoring those healed to a life that had been lost. Often this did not just include physical well-being. It meant restoration to the community, it included acceptance into the people of God again. The sense of wellness was physical, emotional, spiritual and communal.

I am inspired when I see examples of the church acting as the agent of healing. There are many ways in which this can happen. When we engage in this ministry, it gathers momentum, as with the woman of Samaria in John 4. She did not have a physical ailment but was shunned by the community because of her past. Her encounter with Jesus gave her such a sense of hope that despite being cautioned not to speak of it, she could not contain her enthusiasm; and as a result, we read, “many believed in him because of the woman’s testimony.”

As the body of Christ we are called to be servants in a world that needs healing. Let us pray that in our unique contexts, we may all find ways to be agents of the healing ministry of Christ that renews hope and restores hurting people to life in all its fullness.


Phil King, Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand (PCANZ)