Staying connected in God’s mission during and after the pandemic
by Tammy Warren | Presbyterian News Service
LOUISVILLE — Until in-person visits can resume safely, there has never been a better time to invite mission co-workers to visit your congregation virtually than right now.
“Mission co-workers are connecting with congregations intentionally and intensively when they are on virtual interpretation assignments,” said Mary Nebelsick, mission specialist for mission interpretation in Presbyterian World Mission. “Mission co-workers who are not on interpretation assignments are connecting virtually with their supporters as well.”
Through technology, mission co-workers can visit congregations in various ways, such as online worship services, mission committee or session meetings, Sunday school or Vacation Bible School. Congregations in the U.S. and abroad may want to develop a mutual service project and share respective progress reports via a private Facebook page.
A mission co-worker can participate by:
- Sharing stories about how they are involved in the Matthew 25 invitation
- Bringing a minute for mission or sermon
- Participating through a musical selection
- Leading or helping lead a Bible study or communion service
- Preparing a joint liturgy combining elements from U.S. and international cultures
- Sharing a ministry video from their country of service
- Teaching children and youth a song or a simple craft
- Providing an update on COVID-19 and the partner churches’ response
- Giving the benediction.
The Rev. Josh Heikkila, World Mission’s regional liaison in West Africa, has been creating some minutes for mission as videos during the pandemic. He is currently working on a virtual sermon he will give in a few weeks.
“Just the move to online confuses even more where we are at the moment: Am I in Ghana? In the U.S.? The virtual world transcends borders,” Heikkila said.
In 2002 as a Young Adult Volunteer, Heikkila wrote letters to be posted online. He was pretty sure no Ghanaian would read them because, at the time, virtually no one had an internet connection.
“Now you don’t know anymore what audience you’re speaking to and where a digital message will end up,” he said. “And that makes it difficult to know what message to relay and how to say it.”
Search for mission co-workers to connect with by name or country of service through Mission Connections profile pages. To invite a mission co-worker for a virtual visit, you can email email@example.com or email the mission co-worker directly. In your email invitation, be sure to explain what questions you have and the type of presentation/involvement you would prefer.
Mission co-workers in sensitive areas will need to take into consideration security concerns for themselves and the people they serve. To reach out to a mission co-worker in a sensitive location, contact Octavia Coleman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-728-7228, ext. 5327.
To prepare for a virtual visit, go to the mission co-workers’ Mission Connections page, where you can download their prayer card and read their letters to learn about their work with mission partners. It also helps to promote the virtual visit through your church website and newsletter.
World Mission staff and co-workers are currently collaborating to compile what they’re calling a World Wide Worship Kit, which will include a wide variety of worship resources from around the globe. This effort is being led by the Rev. Cathy Chang, World Mission’s regional facilitator for addressing migration and human trafficking in Southeast Asia, with assistance from the Rev. Sharon Bryant, mission co-worker and coordinator of Christian Volunteers in Thailand and a recent guest on an Everyday God-Talk segment.
Bryant has created a Google spreadsheet to collect resources on a variety of topics, such as calls to worship, prayers of confession, affirmations of faith, pastoral prayers, invitations to the table, great thanksgivings, prayers after communion, The Lord’s Prayer, charge/benediction, hymns or praise songs, anthems or special music, Vacation Bible School activities, pastoral letters/declarations, liturgical dance/movement and more.
The Rev. Sarah Henken, mission co-worker and coordinator of the Young Adult Volunteer program site in Colombia, is leading the group of World Mission staff and mission co-workers preparing resources for the observance of World Communion Sunday on Oct. 4.
Additional information will be provided about the World Wide Worship Kit and World Communion Sunday resources as they become available. For additional tools for mission and ministry, visit pcusa.org/missionresources.
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Categories: Congregational Vitality, World Mission
Tags: cathy chang, colombia, connecting, covid-19, ia, interpretation assignment, invite a mission co-worker, Josh Heikkila, mary nebelsick, mission co-workers, mission committee, mission personnel, prayer, presbyterian church (u.s.a.), presenters, sarah henken, session, sharon bryant, southeast asia, speakers, technology, thailand, Vacation Bible School, VBS, virtual visits, west africa, world communion sunday, world mission, worldwide worship kit, worship
Ministries: World Mission