By Titus Presler
“The purpose of the Global Episcopal Mission Network is to gather, inspire and equip people to participate in God’s mission with humility, inclusion and companionship.”
This is the purpose statement adopted by the GEMN Board of Directors at its extended meeting in October and confirmed at its November meeting.
A briefer tagline was also adopted: “Global Episcopal Mission Network: Gather, inspire and equip for God’s mission.” When appearing with the GEMN logo or masthead, it will be simply: “Gather, inspire and equip for God’s mission.”
At the same meetings the board decided on the three core values of GEMN – Humility, Inclusion, Companionship – which are included in the full purpose statement.
Choosing the core values and framing the purpose statement were the board’s first steps in articulating a vision to carry the network forward for the next three years, 2022-2024. The previous vision statement, titled the “2021 Desired Future State,” guided GEMN’s work over the five years since it was drafted in 2016, with annual assessments and revisions.
This was the first time that the GEMN Board had articulated a full purpose statement for public use, though the network’s current bylaws do state its purpose as follows: “GEMN seeks to develop and serve a cohesive network of Episcopalians who are committed to supporting one another in promoting and participating in the global mission of the Triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”
The previous motto, in use since at least 2010, was: “Proclaim, Inspire, Ignite the Joy of God’s Mission.” In crafting a new purpose statement the board sought to give greater emphasis to the practical work of GEMN:
- “Gather” refers to how GEMN convenes mission activists in a variety of ways: the annual Global Mission Conference, the Mission Formation Program, the Mission Thursdays series, and the Facebook group, Global Episcopal Mission Community, and other venues. Gathering people offers mutual support as well as information, and it facilitates the networking that is the heart of GEMN’s work.
- “Inspire,” a term shared by both the old and new taglines, refers to how GEMN seeks to offer people a fresh vision for how God is on mission in the world and motivate them to join in what God is up to. Inspiration is offered by conference speakers, formation modules, print and video resources, informal networking, and the Global Mission Prayer Cycle.
- “Equip” refers to the practical guidance GEMN seeks through its multiple programs to offer to its members – dioceses, organizations, congregations, individuals and seminaries – in adopting viable mission strategies and making wise missional decisions in the course of their global work. Participants are equipped with biblical, theological, historical, cultural and practical approaches that are viable and informed by current missiological and organizational thinking. Conference themes are chosen to equip participants to catalyze mission in particular directions; recent examples include evangelism, reconciliation and creation care, with women in mission being the theme of the 2022 Global Mission Conference, May 12-14.
As before, mission is cast as God’s mission, not the church’s mission and not “our” mission, for mission originates with God’s vision for the cosmos and God’s working through the Holy Spirit. The role of the church and all its members is to discern what God is up to in the world and then join God in that mission.
At the October meeting the board assessed progress toward fulfilling the 2021 Desired Future State vision and framed a new strategic plan for the next three years. Details will be forthcoming soon.
Titus Presler is the president of GEMN.
Photo: Canon Stephanie Spellers gathers, inspires and equips mission activists for evangelism at the Global Mission Conference organized by GEMN in the Dominican Republic in 2019.