This past November I had the opportunity to attend the 2016 Partnership for World Mission Conference which was held at The Hayes Conference Centre, Swanwick, Derbyshire, England. The theme of the conference was “Going the Extra Mile: Mission in a Moving World”.
Worship and Bible Study were a part of our daily routine. There were ten of us in attendance from The Episcopal Church.
Among the speakers were The Rev. Canon Malcolm Bradshaw, a Senior Anglican Chaplain in Athens who told of the response to the refuge crisis in his country and the needs of the thousands entering Greece. His comments about the ministries taking place, in a country which has its’ own economic problems, was inspiring and heartwarming. Other speakers raised the issues of the importance of relationships, welcoming the stranger through hospitality and the importance of preserving human dignity.
The workshops included these very timely topics: cross-cultural awareness presented by United Society Partners in the Gospel, who work predominantly with Anglicans, but, for over 300 years have worked with churches in their own communities. Their efforts are focused on the development of skills and working for change within the communities, not giving handouts. Other topics were how to engage effectively with refugees and asylum seekers, organizing international visits and using social media. One evening was a theater production which focused on asylum monologues.
My takeaways from this conference consisted of the importance of continuing to develop relationships within the areas of mission including companion diocese links, whether on a diocesan or parish level. The influx of refugees is a major problem throughout the world. We need to be cognizant that people are leaving their own countries for a myriad of reasons, including economics or the political strife within their particular areas. We need to understand the way this affects our own communities and how we need to prepare to serve those who seek asylum. We need to aid in preserving the dignity of each human being. In the Book of Genesis we read about the migration through the discussion of Abraham. And, the Holy Family fled to Egypt from Bethlehem due to Herod’s order to kill little children; they were what we now describe as refugees. These are not new issues but remain very pressing particularly in our world today.
One of the books I read prior to attending the conference was World-Shaped Mission by Janice Price. I recommend this book to those of you who are involved or interested in mission. Even though the book is focused on the work of the Church of England’s world mission, I think you will find it an excellent resource. I am excited that Janice Price is continuing to do research
on companion diocese links and I am looking forward to reading her published study.
This was adapted from an article appearing in FOURTH WATCH — Newsletter of The Province of Sewanee — Province IV of The Episcopal Church Vol. 17 No. 1 Spring 2017.