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Mission Matters


A monthly update from World Mission, a ministry of the Presbyterian Mission Agency

The Mission Matters column addresses the impact of Presbyterian mission in the world and the issues that affect mission co-workers, the people we walk alongside and assist in service to God, and our partners around the globe.

December 2019 — Status Update: World Mission’s strategic planning process

Sara Pottschmidt LishernessSara Pottschmidt Lisherness, Director, Compassion, Peace & Justice Ministry, and Interim Director, Presbyterian World Mission

It’s been a blessing to serve as the interim director of World Mission these past few months. I’ve been doing a lot of listening — to global partners, mid councils mission co-workers and staff. We are looking at the past to see what we need to carry forward and build on, but also looking toward the future.
World Mission’s strategic planning process falls into both of those categories, and as we look to the new year, I wanted to share with you the status of that project.

World Mission began compiling information, both qualitative and quantitative, in the fall of 2018 to gather input from domestic and global partners, as well as allied organizations, with the intent of creating a new strategic vision to carry us through the next decade. Our previous strategic plan was formulated over a decade ago and there was a need for a fresh reading of the signs in a rapidly changing geo-political and religious context.

In the past 18 months, there were 10 consultations, domestic and international, with over 500 participants and 250 global partners. Those strategic conversations gave our partners the opportunity to talk in-depth with World Mission about the changing landscape in their communities, but also provided them with a space to share together and look for new ways to collaborate.

After nearly 18 months of gathering insights, there were 300 pages of notes to analyze. The PC(USA)’s Research Services spent weeks looking for common themes and produced a 40-page summary report, which offered deep insights but no clear priority or directive.

What it did show clearly was that there were areas where World Mission needed to dig deeper. Those included more in-depth missiological grounding, insights from our ecumenical partners and additional input from our mission co-workers.

Additionally, both the 222nd and 223rd General Assemblies (2016 and 2018) directed the PC(USA) to act boldly and compassionately to serve people who are hungry, oppressed, imprisoned or poor. This gave birth to the Matthew 25 invitation, adopted by the Church to actively engage in the world around us, so our faith comes alive and we wake up to new possibilities. Over 300 churches and mid councils have joined to support that work. This has been adopted by the Church, and whatever vision we set for the future will reflect this commitment.

The process for gathering additional input has already begun and is ongoing. It will become part of the PMA’s overall strategic plan and will guide World Mission’s work for the next five to 10 years.
We do not yet have a final date for rolling out a complete analysis because we want the quality of work to drive the process, not the timeline. There will be regular updates along the way.

From all of us at World Mission, we wish you a wonderful holiday season and a happy and healthy 2020.

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