Mar 25 2010
As members of the Church of Jesus Christ, we believe in and trust in the Triune God: the steadfast love and grace of God, the redemptive and reconciling work of Jesus Christ for the salvation of the world, and the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. As an entity of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and part of the Reformed tradition, we understand ourselves to be part of the larger Body of Christ in the world, the ekklesia: we are called, led and empowered by the Holy Spirit to walk together with God and each other in covenant relationship as we participate in God’s mission in the world God so loved and loves (The Book of Order, G3.0000-0401,“The Church and Its Mission”).
God’s people connected in effective mission: a compelling witness to Jesus Christ in a globalized world.
To engage with U.S. Presbyterians and global partners for faithful and effective participation in God’s mission in a globalized world, growing together as communities of mission practice.
Created in God’s image and forgiven by God in Christ, we are all called to treat each person with dignity and respect, following the model of Jesus, standing together with those who are marginalized.
We will focus on long-term relationships, building the capacity of each member of the Body of Christ to engage in God’s mission in sustainable ways. We will strive to be aware of issues of power and context as well as the gifts and hopes of others.
We seek to bring about the realization of God’s vision for our fallen world: the redemption of the whole creation, including both personal sinfulness and the unjust structures of society. A Christ-centered proclamation of the gospel requires that we share the gospel through evangelism, minister in compassion, and advocate for justice.
Our work with partner churches and organizations around the world and with U.S. Presbyterians is based on mutual respect and trust leading to common prophetic witness and to mutual transparency and accountability. Whenever possible, we work in God’s mission with other members of the ecumenical family and with partners of other faiths.
Relevance to God’s World
We embrace the call of God to respond with creativity and integrity to a rapidly changing and interdependent world where local and global concerns converge in new ways. We will maintain our centeredness in Christ as we follow the example of our spiritual ancestors: “The church reformed, always reforming” (Book of Order G-2.0200).
From the beginning God has called humankind to care for the created order; therefore we will strive to restore God’s creation and to use its resources respectfully and responsibly. We, as individuals and as an organization, with all that we have belong to God; therefore we place under the Lordship of Christ our time, talents, and financial resources; our political and economic choices; our relationships; and our very lives.
Communities of Mission Practice
Presbyterian World Mission, in collaboration with U.S. Presbyterians and global partners, will inspire, equip and accompany each other in communities of mission practice to engage in God’s mission.
Faithful and Effective Mission
Presbyterian World Mission will increase faithfulness and effectiveness in our shared participation in God’s mission as we learn and act together with U.S. Presbyterians and global partners.
Strategic Engagement in Critical Global Issues
Presbyterian World Mission, in partnership with U.S. Presbyterians and global partners, will strategically focus on critical global issues that adversely affect God’s creation and the human family.
Achieving Organizational Excellence
Presbyterian World Mission, as a learning community, will achieve organizational excellence through resource and knowledge management, strategic thinking, staff development and healthy work-life balance.
COMMUNITY OF MISSION PRACTICE CONCEPT PAPER
Presbyterian World Mission
Beginning in 1837, the Presbyterian Church’s Board of Foreign Mission sent mission workers into the world to preach, teach, and heal. Our mission workers worked in Brazil, Congo, Egypt, China, and other countries to plant the church and help it to grow into a witnessing, serving community. Thousands of women and men came to faith in Jesus Christ and the churches grew. This direct mode of mission was a good and faithful response to God’s call to our church at that time.
In the 1950’s and 60’s, as Presbyterian communities in these nations multiplied and matured and as the developing world’s clamor for self-determination in the waning years of the age of colonialism grew, our church discerned a movement of the Spirit and reformed its mission policy to recognize and respect the role of national Christian communities and their leaders in the nations we had considered to be “the mission field”. Our more direct mode of mission to communities around the world was transformed into an equipping mode of work, focused in large part on empowering the national churches to grow in membership, leadership and capacity to serve their communities through ministries of education, health, development, and evangelism. The PC(USA) was one of the early pioneers in working in partner-ship with national Christians and the results have been a noteworthy growth in membership, leadership and capacity, as well as a powerful multiplier effect that resulted from shifting the work of our mission workers from an exclusive focus on direct feeding, healing and proclamation to equipping the local church to feed, heal and proclaim the Gospel. This paradigmatic shift from the direct mode of mission to working in partnership characterized by mutuality was not an easy one. But the fruits of the last half century of mission in partnership have proven that our forbearers rightly discerned the Spirit’s call.
Today, we believe the Spirit is calling our church to a deeper understanding of partnership. As globalization has increased international communication, travel and awareness and seen the convergence of global and local concerns, U.S. Presbyterians have responded by increasing their participation in international mission. If, in 1960, Presbyterians worked primarily through one, centralized international mission agency (COEMAR in the UPCUSA and the Board of Foreign Mission in the PCUS), today there are thousands of Presbyterian “mission agencies” making mission decisions every day: the Validated Mission Support Groups and other Presbyterian mission organizations, presbytery international partnerships, congregational mission committees, congregation-to-congregation “twinning” relationships, etc. This seismic shift in the understanding and practice of mission has opened the door to direct involvement of U.S. Presbyterians at unprecedented levels. Greatly increased involvement and giving and the opportunity for personal and congregational transformation have been some of the positive effects of the change. But our global partners note that our mission efforts have become highly uncoordinated and, in some cases, less responsive to the needs as perceived by the local community.
This shift, from one highly centralized agency to thousands of highly decentralized agencies, is a massive one and invites Presbyterian World Mission to reform its self-understanding and the focus of its work to include many U.S. Presbyterian mission constituents—congregations, middle governing bodies, validated mission support groups and other mission organizations– as partners in mission, and to continue its commitment to engaging in God’s mission in a spirit of humility and mutuality. This deep change invites us all to consider new ways of being a connectional church. In the last century, our church did an excellent job of including the voice of global partners in our mission reflection and action. The new context requires that, in addition to maintaining our close and mutual partnership with global partners (because we believe that God speaks with particular clarity to God’s people in each place) and ecumenical partners (because of our understanding of the linkage between mission and unity), we are called to discern and engage in God’s mission with U.S. Presbyterians. The Dallas Invitation, signed by 64 mission leaders from across the PC(USA) and affirmed by the GAC and General Assembly in 2008, affirms this movement and invites Presbyterian World Mission to support “new patterns involving new cooperation and partnerships within the PC(USA)”. In order to accomplish this deepening of partnership in mission, Presbyterian World Mission proposes to work intentionally in “communities of mission practice”, creating and nurturing spaces of prayer, reflection, discernment and discipleship which
|Conceptual FrameworkWhile global partners and U.S. Presbyterians will maintain separate spaces of mission reflection and action, World Mission understands a community of mission practice to be the space where Presbyterians, global partners and World Mission come together. A community of mission practice shares an identity derived from a common passion. It commits to interact regularly to learn and grow as a community and is guided and shaped by the disciplines of prayer, Bible Study, reflection and worship. It includes diverse perspectives, working together toward a common purpose, sharing World Mission’s core values, and developing a body of shared knowledge and practice in mission in order to increase the faithfulness and effectiveness of its participation in God’s mission.
In summary, a community of mission practice…
| Composition: The community of mission practice is the common space between 3 or more groups including U.S. Presbyterians, Global Partners and World Mission.
Community of Mission Practice
|World Mission’s particular role: World Mission is a member/part of a community of mission practice and plays a distinct role:
transcend national borders and allow global partners, U.S. Presbyterians and Presbyterian World
Mission to come together as partners in God’s mission. The concept is described below.