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Mission co-worker in South Africa
Serving as Regional Liaison for Southern Africa
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About Doug Tilton's ministry
Doug Tilton currently serves as regional liaison for Southern Africa, helping to strengthen the mutual ministries of the PC(USA) and its partner churches and institutions in six countries: Lesotho, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe. Regional liaisons are in regular contact with the PC(USA)’s partners, exploring ways of working together and building the capacity of the global church to bear witness to the good news of Christ’s redeeming love for all humanity. Doug also provides support for other PC(USA) mission personnel in the region and helps to connect PC(USA) presbyteries and congregations with their counterparts in Southern Africa.
Regional liaisons play an increasingly important role in facilitating mission partnerships and helping Presbyterians to identify appropriate ways of working together with partners around the world. “Our church is changing, and so is our approach to mission and partnership,” Doug writes. “One of the most dynamic developments of recent years has been the growth of direct presbytery and congregational links between the United States and other parts of the world. Another important development is the emergence of mission networks to enable those involved in partnerships to exchange experiences and insights and to learn from one another. Regional liaisons can assist these efforts by providing relevant information and analysis, facilitating communications, and troubleshooting problems.”
Serving as a regional liaison has given Doug a deeper appreciation of the importance of ministries of accompaniment. “Wherever I go, I am often surprised and profoundly moved by the ways in which God works through the mutual recognition, affirmation, and encouragement shared among brothers and sisters in faith from different parts of the world,” remarks Doug. “It is humbling to visit a church where people have walked for several hours to welcome you, to share fellowship, and to celebrate together our common humanity and faith.”
Download: a prayer card that lifts up the work of Doug Tilton in South Africa.
Watch: a video in which Doug talks about his work in South Africa.
Watch: a video update of Doug Tilton's work.
Read: Mandela, Dignity and Divestment for South Africa
Read: Risky Journey, about Doug Tilton’s work in Madagascar.
Read: Fruitful Ministry,
Protecting Madagascar’s people and environment
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A) partner churches in Southern Africa include the Lesotho Evangelical Church, the Church of Jesus Christ in Madagascar, the Presbyterian Church of Mauritius, the Presbyterian Church of Mozambique, the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in South Africa, the Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa, the Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa, and the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (Synod of Harare). While Southern Africa is rich in mineral wealth and other natural resources, income from those assets are not enjoyed by the vast majority of the people. South Africa has by far the largest and most advanced economy in Southern Africa. Its per capita income and gross domestic product are many times larger than all other Southern African countries. PC(USA) partner churches in Southern Africa work to improve the economic plight of their people and tackle other challenges such as the spread of HIV/AIDS and other diseases of poverty.
About Doug Tilton
Doug was commissioned as a mission worker in 1992. He was initially assigned to work with an ecumenical agency engaged in peacemaking and community development in a semirural area on the tropical upper south coast of KwaZulu-Natal, just south of Durban. From that vantage point he witnessed South Africa’s inspiring transition from minority rule to nonracial democracy. During the country’s first democratic elections in 1994 Doug served as the provincial administration and financial officer for the KwaZulu-Natal Electoral Observer Network, the structure established by church and civil society organizations to provide electoral education and promote a free and fair poll.
For the next 10 years he was seconded to the South African Council of Churches (SACC), working first as a researcher in the Council’s Parliamentary Office in Cape Town and later in the General Secretariat in Johannesburg. From the time of its formation in 1968, the SACC was one of the leading voices calling for democracy, human rights and social justice in a land that was long blighted by institutionalized racial discrimination. After 1994 the SACC sought to help a new society address the social and economic legacies of apartheid, including poverty, inequality and racism.
Doug’s interest in Southern Africa and his involvement in the antiapartheid movement began while he was an undergraduate at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota. He graduated from Macalester with a B.A. in history, political science and economics. He was a Rhodes Scholar at Brasenose College, Oxford, where he received an M.Phil. in politics in 1985 before working for a year as legislative coordinator for the Washington Office on Africa in Washington, D.C. In that position he facilitated the office’s advocacy work on Southern Africa issues, including its support for the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act. Doug returned to England and received a D.Phil. in politics from Wolfson College, Oxford. From 1995 to 1997 he was again based in Washington, D.C., as a PC(USA) mission specialist assigned to do policy analysis and communications for the Washington Office on Africa and the Africa Policy Information Center.
Birthday: March 30