A fellowship of 32

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cwm gen secs meetingURC General Secretary the Revd John Proctor reports from the Council of World Mission's (CWM) meeting of church leaders

The Council for World Mission is a fellowship of 32, mainly Reformed, churches around the globe, worshipping and working in some 40 countries.

Many of these churches came into being through the missionary work of British Christians in the 19th and 20th centuries. Yet now some are much bigger than we are – in Korea, Madagascar and South India, for example. And others are smaller – in the various Pacific islands.

The General Secretaries of these churches meet for a week’s conference every two years, and this year’s was in Rotorua, hosted by the Congregationalists and Presbyterians of Aotearoa New Zealand.

Rotorua is reportedly the smelliest town in the world, and there was ample opportunity to inhale the sulphurous fumes generated by the unique and wondrous geology of that region. However, the conference itself left a much sweeter taste.

Our sisters and brothers in other parts of the world do tremendous work, while often bearing great burdens.

Some live and serve in lands damaged by drought, rising seas, earthquake or pollution. Several speak and work for justice amid deep poverty, or in an oppressive political situation.

Some churches are a resented minority; others have a respected voice in society. Many of them evangelise with energy and good fruit. All of them gain strength from each other. 

So it was good to be together, to think about mission, good news, Christian leadership, justice and cultural issues.

The New Zealand churches are themselves intercultural, with large numbers of Pacific islanders in their pews (and pulpits), members from the ancient Maori community and people with European roots. They have worked hard to honour that richness and take it seriously, and perhaps have a good deal to teach us as a result.

Our Christian friends in other lands value us highly.

CWM is lively and active in a host of ways. Its head office is now in Singapore, but it has more local staff in six major regions of the world.

If you pray for CWM, remember that they are presently seeking the right person to be their next General Secretary, when Collin Cowan steps down in 2020. They will also need someone to lead their work in Europe; Anthony Reddie moves on at the end of 2019.

I am very grateful for my involvement with CWM. It’s been an important learning experience for me, and an inspiring part of my job.

Photo: The General Secretaries of CWM. Image courtesy of CWM. 

Published 11 October 2019

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