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A Letter from José LaMont Jones, serving in Congo, currently in the United States

September 2020

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Greetings, my friends!

All is well here in the Dominican Republic, where Evelin, my wife, and I are working from home and preparing for our eventual travel to Congo. It has been an unusually cool summer with only a few days of intense heat. I thought being here would have prepared me more for the heat in Kinshasa, which is 10 degrees closer to the equator than Santo Domingo. Nonetheless, all is well.

While COVID-19 infections continue to rise, the disease’s novelty is wearing off in many communities, and people are becoming more and more relaxed and are going about without their masks. Masks, social distancing, washing of hands, etc. are ways we can not only care for ourselves but also others! Caring for others, particularly in times such as these, is super important. As we do what we discern to be God’s will, we should keep in mind that we should also strive to not do additional harm in the process.

And so it is in Congo. The schools, churches, and many places of employment had been shut down to slow down the coronavirus spread. But, with so many living on the margin, this also created severe hardship for many. Whole ministries and ministry objectives had to be re-evaluated due to the additional risks that might accompany them.

The Congo Mission Network Annual Conference began Wednesday, September 16, 2020, as a virtual event. Instead of the standard two-and-a-half days, the conference will take place over a span of five months, all due to the effects of the pandemic. The achievements and challenges of doing ministry in the time of COVID-19 are precisely what the meeting is covering. How can we continue to respond to the need to help others given the limitations of this pandemic? Additionally, the legacy of racism, both here in the United States and Congo, has made these times that much more different. Because of our calling as Christians to be peacemakers and advocates of justice and the evolution of the collective world conscience toward racial harmony, we have begun the process of re-evaluation, change, and healing. Our conference theme: “Unity, Justice and Reconciliation in the U.S. and Congo: Christian Faith in the Time of COVID-19” says it all.

If you could not participate in the opening worship session on September 16, you should watch the recorded Zoom session on our CMN YouTube channel or by following this link:

Rev. Denise Anderson, Coordinator for Racial and Intercultural Justice, gave the sermon which called us all to appropriately remember those things from our past, which helps us advance toward the future. Her sermon is appropriate for both the United States and our partners in Congo. Please continue to pray for the Congo. I highly recommend you check out the recording of the worship and Rev. Anderson’s sermon. You will be blessed.

On October 3 and 10, the conference will continue with presentations on the impact of COVID-19 on healthcare. In Congo, several other diseases complicate the response to COVID-19. Some of them are malaria, Ebola, measles, cholera, etc. Understanding the challenges and needs of our Congolese siblings should guide our support and prayers. Upcoming sessions in theology, education and development will round out our discussions. This is my first Congo Mission Network. As I become more involved, I can see the tremendous impact that the members and friends of Presbyterian Mission (and other agencies and denominations) have had on the lives, well-being, and development of the community of believers in the world. I am proud to be a part of this work!

In addition to assisting with conference planning (and video editing), Evelin and I have joined forces with the women of Lafayette-Orinda Presbyterian Church (LOPC) to promote the necklaces they make in support of constructing schools in the Congo. This is an extremely worthwhile project. Over the years, more than $50,000 has been raised to build schools in the Congo! Contact Roberta Dodson or me at LOPC to order yours. In the photo of Evelin and me, you can see Evelin modeling a red necklace. There are many styles, colors, and designs. All are beautiful, and their purchase benefits a good cause!

One of my goals, during this period, is to make contact with the Congolese nationals here in the United States and encourage their participation and sharing of experiences with the Mission Network. I thank Rev. Princeton Abaraoha, Field Staff for African-American Congregational Support, for sharing his list of Congolese congregations with whom he has worked and for helping me identify others in communities with large numbers of Congolese immigrants. I pray that these connections will be fruitful and be a link to keep family and friends connected across the Atlantic and be a source of comfort to those who left turmoil as they learn what we are doing to help. May it also an opportunity to guide and enlighten us on the root causes of conflict and disparity that may exist.

Every day, I become prouder of the varied ministries in which our denomination is involved. Please keep Evelin and me in your prayers for our participation in ministry in Congo. Keep our Congolese siblings in the Congo and worldwide, who find themselves affected by the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. They need help, spiritual and financial support, and hands and feet help carry the load of the burdens they have. Join us for our next session of the Congo Mission Network Virtual Conference 2020 by registering at:

José Lamont Jones

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