2017 GEMN Global Mission Conference Highlights – Alabama

The 2017 GEMN Global Mission Conference was held at beautiful Camp McDowell in Nauvoo, Alabama from May 24th to 26th. See below for photos, materials and reviews of the conference.

Press Releases

2017 GEMN Conference Review, Episcopal News Service – June 1, 2017:

Highlights from Plenary Speakers:

Keynote Address and Plenary by the Rt. Rev. Mark MacDonald

The church needs to “recover reconciliation as the paradigm for Christian mission,” said keynoter the Rt. Rev. Mark MacDonald, the national indigenous bishop for the Anglican Church of Canada, where he has guided reconciliation processes between First Nations and Canadian churches and society in the wake of abuses suffered by indigenous children in residential schools.

Bishop MacDonald shared an in-depth view of the Theology of Reconciliation, urging us to recover Reconciliation as a paradigm for mission. Using Luke 10, “The Sending Out of the Seventy”, he observed that, rather than focusing exclusively on inclusion and on welcoming others to the temple, we need to go out and embrace the vulnerability of finding welcome, taking the temple and making it the size of a single home at a time.

MacDonald challenged a common assumption that reconciliation begins with an oppressor’s repentance and proceeds through the victim’s forgiveness, for often, he said, the sequence is the opposite: “Reconciliation begins when victims are inspired to reclaim their humanity and then move toward forgiveness, which invites the oppressor into a new relationship. Then begins the repair of the oppressor’s humanity, for there can be no participation in a colonial system without damage to the soul and to one’s humanity.” Reconciliation calls us to new life.

Keynote Address and Plenary by the Rev. Canon Paul-Gordon Chandler

With long experience in the Muslim world, including pastorates in Tunis and Cairo, Chandler, an Episcopal Church missionary, is the founding director of CARAVAN, a non-profit organization that builds peace through traveling inter-religious art exhibits that are hosted in such venues as the National Gallery of Fine Arts in Amman, Jordan; St. Martin-in-the-Fields in London; Riverside Church in New York City; and American University in Washington, D.C. Its current exhibition, “I Am,” features the art of Middle Eastern women of several religions.

Chandler spoke of the extraordinary commonalities between Muslims and Christians, and especially the power of art to build bridges creatively and wage peace in interfaith contexts. He speaks of artists as change agents and art itself as transcendent of culture, politics and faith.

Keynote Address and Plenary by Heidi Kim

Heidi Kim“What does being a guest look like?” asked Heidi Kim, staff officer for racial reconciliation at the Episcopal Church Center. “Seeing people as victims is part of how we’ve done mission, whereas people have their own agency, and it’s important for them to move from victim-hood to survivor-hood.” Kim critiqued what she called the “white savior complex,” in which whites both acknowledge their role in colonization and imagine that they are central agents of decolonization around the world, denying the power of indigenous peoples to catalyze their own liberation.

Kim used images and anecdotes from popular culture to highlight what she called the spiritual narcissism that is sometimes expressed when people from the United States encounter racial and cultural difference in ministering elsewhere in the world.

“Indaba: Building Genuine Global Partnerships for Local Mission” by the Rev. Dr. Phil Groves

Phil Groves
“All mission is local mission, but it needs the partnership of others, and all global mission is expressed locally,” said the Rev. Phil Groves as he led two workshops on the role of the Zulu practice of Indaba in fostering reconciliation in current tensions among Anglicans, especially about human sexuality. Intensifying the adoption of Indaba as a mode of interaction at the 2008 Lambeth Conference, Groves for 10 years directed Continuing Indaba, a program to bring dioceses from different parts of the world together for mutual understanding and mission discernment. He serves on the staff of the Anglican Communion Office.

“The Anglican crisis was caused by the donor-recipient model of relationship,” Groves said. Mutual Responsibility and Interdependence in the Body of Christ, the mission watchword adopted by the 1963 Anglican Congress held in Toronto, and Partnership in Mission, the model adopted by the Anglican Consultative Council in 1973, sought to overcome the donor-recipient model but were not implemented completely enough, he suggested.

Living Reconciliation

Conference Materials:

Workshop Materials:

Alabama 2017 Workshop Schedule2

Conference Quotes:

“Churches had become places that the poor cannot afford” – The Rt. Rev. Mark MacDonald

“Reconciliation is a popular word at conferences, but how often do you use it in coffee shops?” – Paul-Gordon Chandler

“Praying together puts words, heart, love out into the world and paves the way for reconciliation.” – Heidi Kim

“Too often oppressed people have to be the ones who forgive, LGBT people, ethnic minority people and women” – Heidi Kim

“What does it mean to proclaim by example the good news of Jesus Christ?” (baptismal covenant) Heidi Kim

“We cannot reconcile and restore a relationship that we don’t have” ~ Heidi Kim

“Hospitality – all speakers at #gemn2017 are stressing the need to be guest not host.” Twitter

Quotes from attendees:

“Returning from #gemn2017 thanks to @MissionGemn for a great conference.”

“Looking forward to returning and continuing this dialogue.”

“Fabulous speakers, great workshops and accommodations. Enjoyed the farm and the environmental vision.”

“Worth the time and treasure it took to participate & enjoy all activities.”

“Incredible attendees at all levels to meet and share experiences/future activities with.”