A letter from Jo Ella Holman, serving as Regional Liaison in the Caribbean
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I have been thinking a lot lately about mutuality as we do partnership-in-mission. This May, a delegation from the PC(USA) joined a delegation from our Cuban church partner, the Presbyterian-Reformed Church in Cuba, in a visioning process for a new mutual mission agreement between our two denominations. The last agreement was developed in 1986. Of course, we have worked with the Cuban church for over a century. First the Cuban church was part of our own PC(USA)—in the Synod of New Jersey—and then it became an independent church after the revolution.
Much has changed since 1986, both within and between our two countries! But it was wonderful to remember the many activities done together and the many relationships developed between our congregations, presbyteries, synods and seminaries since then. A new agreement will go to their Synod meeting in January of 2018 and to our own General Assembly next June for adoption.
As I have thought about the aspect of mutuality in mission, I remembered one of the partnership values that came out of work done in World Mission some years ago.
Our work with partner churches and organizations around the world and with U.S. Presbyterians is based on mutual respect and trust, leading to common prophetic witness and to mutual transparency and accountability. Whenever possible, we work in God’s mission with other members of the ecumenical family and with partners of other faiths.
This mutuality and reciprocity, this two-way street in relationship is very biblical. The Apostle Paul uses the term koinonia—fellowship, sharing in common, communion. These are all part of its meaning.
Paul gives many concrete examples for how we are to live out our life together, for example:
Live in harmony with one another (Rom. 12:16)
Welcome one another (Rom. 15:7)
Admonish one another (Rom. 15:14)
Greet one another with a holy kiss (Rom. 16:16)
Wait for one another (1 Cor. 11:33)
Have the same care for one another (1Cor. 12:25)
Be servants of one another (Gal. 6:2)
Comfort one another (1 Thess. 5:11)
Build one another up (1 Thess. 5:11)
Be at peace with one another (1 Thess. 5:13)
Do good to one another (1 Thess. 5:15)
Bear with one another lovingly (Eph. 4:2)
Be kind and compassionate to one another (Eph. 4:32)
Be subject one to another (Eph. 5:21)
Forgive one another (Col. 3:13)
They all sound so simple, but how difficult they are for us to live out, whether within our own congregations and communities of faith or across whatever differences of nationality, culture, race, ethnicity, or any measure of “otherness.”
I have experienced this interdependence, this two-way giving and receiving not only with our international partners, but also with many of you and your congregations and presbyteries! This partnership-in-mission with you has been and remains very important to me, personally, and to the call to which we all are called.
This summer I celebrated 20 years of service in Presbyterian World Mission, and I have been reflecting on the many people who have given so much of themselves to me and my understanding of ministry and of mission. Many of these were colleagues in World Mission, but also from the Church ecumenical. And many of these cherished co-workers in the gospel have been from the congregations and presbyteries with whom I have had the privilege to work in different ministries and countries.
Many of you have offered me the hospitality of your homes and congregational life. Your prayers have and continue to sustain me in the current ministry with our brothers and sisters in the Caribbean. Your generous sharing of financial resources has made this ministry possible, and I humbly ask you to continue your support in the coming year. Thank you! ¡Mil gracias!
I pray with Paul his prayer about the saints in Philippi: “I thank God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you, making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now” (Philippians 1:3 -5).
May the peace of Christ attend you.
Please read this important message from Jose Luis Casal, Director, Presbyterian World Mission
Dear Friend of Presbyterian Mission,
What a joy to send this letter! As Presbyterian World Mission’s new director, I thank God for your faithful support of our mission co-workers. The enclosed newsletter celebrates the work you made possible by your prayers, engagement, and generous financial gifts. We can’t thank you enough.
After I began in April, I met with mission co-workers and global partners and was blessed to see firsthand the mighty ways God is working through them! Our global partners are asking us to help them move forward with life-changing ministries. Because of your support, we can say “yes” to these creative and exciting initiatives.
I write to invite you to make an even deeper commitment to this work. First, would you make a year-end gift for the sending and support of our mission co-workers? We need your gifts to end the year strong. With your help, we filled two new mission co-worker positions and plan to recruit for others. The needs in the world are great, and World Mission is poised to answer the call to serve.
Second, would you ask your session to add our mission co-workers to your congregation’s mission budget for 2018 and beyond? Our mission co-workers serve three-year or four-year terms. Your multi-year commitment will encourage them greatly.
Our mission co-workers are funded entirely from the special gifts of individuals and congregations like yours. Now more than ever, we need your financial support.
In faith, our mission co-workers accepted a call to mission service. In faith, World Mission sent them to work with our global partners. In faith, will you also commit to support this work with your prayers and financial gifts?
Jose Luis Casal
P.S. Your gift will help meet critical needs of our global partners. Thank you!
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Tags: Biblical mutuality, cuba, otherness, Philippians 1:3-5
Tags: Jo Ella Holman
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