By Titus Presler
Humility, Inclusion, Companionship – these are the three core values that the Board of Directors of the Global Episcopal Mission Network focused on at their annual extended board meeting, which was held online on October 7 and 8. They were finalized as the core values at the board’s regular monthly online meeting on Nov. 18.
Deciding on core values was the board’s first step 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,” had guided GEMN’s work over the five years since it was framed in 2016. Identifying core values was the foundation for the board’s work to draft a purpose statement for the network.
In discussing possible core values, the board was guided by a definition of core values as the “deeply ingrained principles that guide all of an organization’s actions.” Core values were distinguished from aspirational values, which an organization may need in the future but currently lacks; permission-to-play values, which are minimal behavioral standards; and accidental values that arise spontaneously without being cultivated.
Discussion included analysis of GEMN’s typical way of operating, the board’s leadership style, and the typical intentions of GEMN members and leaders.
Humility was identified as the core value of GEMN and its members in relation to mission companions in other parts of the world. Conscious of legacies of racism and cultural domination in Western mission efforts historically, GEMN members seek to listen to companions in Africa, Asia and Latin America and learn from them. GEMN members try to avoid pride, arrogance and ethnocentric assumptions.
Inclusion was identified as the core value as the network includes diverse racial and ethnic voices in GEMN’s membership and leadership. Inclusion also characterizes the organizational diversity of GEMN: dioceses, freestanding organizations, congregations, seminaries and individuals. GEMN affirms the unique contributions of these differing entities. Moreover, activists among these entities carry out diverse kinds of work as they participate in God’s mission: education, healthcare, evangelism, justice, disaster relief, pastoral ministry, economic uplift, migration ministry, infrastructure development, creation care and more. GEMN members affirm all these ministries as important expressions of God’s mission rather than elevating one focus and dismissing others.
Companionship was identified as the core value of GEMN members in their overall approach to mission. Companionship means that we walk together and share life with people in other parts of the world. It means we listen and offer solidarity to one another. Mission companions avoid directing one another or imposing agendas on one another. Instead, we pray together, discern together the Holy Spirit’s moving and then plan and carry out the mission to which God is calling us together.
This was the first time that GEMN has intentionally identified the core values of the network. It was an important exercise for the board, and helped to focus the central values of GEMN members as they participate in the mission of God.
Titus Presler, Th.D., is the president of GEMN.