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Mission Toolkit: The ties that bind us

Working together in God’s mission

by Ellen Sherby | Mission Crossroads

LOUISVILLE — Imagine a set of strings lying across a table, each one a different and vibrant color. Individually, the strings are beautiful — they are bright red, golden yellow, vivid green, chocolate brown, royal purple. Each has a different thickness, weight and texture; each was created in a different place, by different hands. Now imagine the strings woven together in a rich, multicolored pattern that creates a broad tapestry. The tapestry is even more beautiful; the interplay between the individual strings, their colors and textures, creates a work of art. Together, the tapestry is unique and strong.

Each World Mission-related network is like a tapestry composed of the “strings” of many different global partnerships. Starting in the 1990s, the first mission networks formed to share information among multiple U.S. churches engaged in long-term partnerships with PC(USA) partners in specific countries. Today, there are more than 25 active mission or partner networks connecting churches and mid councils in the U.S. and global partners of the PC(USA). Each group or church that is a member of a network has its unique gifts and challenges, and each network has its own purpose and style of leadership.

What is the purpose of a network?
Mission and partner networks have a shared identity and purpose. They are focused on a single country; each network includes partnerships between various global partners in that country and various congregations or mid councils in the U.S. Successful networks center their work not only on information-sharing and coordination of ministries among the member partnerships, but on ways in which they can work together as a network on shared goals. Strong networks include participants who come in representation of their church, mid council or other body, not as individuals representing only themselves.

How does Presbyterian World Mission support networks?
World Mission staff participate in network meetings and conference calls and provide information and accompaniment to U.S. and global partners. World Mission can guide networks to resources across the PC(USA), such as denominational staff (including mission co-workers) or educational resources for mission, and can help them connect with the Office of Public Witness or the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations when advocacy is called for.

Networks find that when they come together during annual meetings, members learn from one another and sometimes discover a common purpose as a collective. They also learn from other member partners. Individual congregations, mid council bodies and even denominations get an opportunity to “network” with one another. “In the deepest sense, it’s a way for Christian brothers and sisters to be in relationship with each other across cultural, political and international boundaries,” said Pat Metcalf of the Cuba Partners Network. Learn about upcoming mission and partner network meetings by visiting and clicking on “Participate in mission networks and events.”

Find resources
To learn about mission and  partner networks, contact Ellen Sherby: or 800-728-7228, ext. 5612

Ellen Sherby is coordinator for Equipping for Mission Involvement with the Presbyterian Mission Agency.

This article is from the Summer 2019 issue of “Mission Crossroads” magazine, which is printed and mailed free to subscribers within the U.S. three times a year by Presbyterian World Mission and also available online at

Creative_Commons-BYNCNDYou may freely reuse and distribute this article in its entirety for non-commercial purposes in any medium. Please include author attribution, photography credits, and a link to the original article. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDeratives 4.0 International License.

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