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PC(USA) staff celebrate Mission Worker Sunday with a special chapel service

Sunday’s the day for honoring the denomination’s dedicated mission workers

by Kathy Melvin | Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE — In honor of Mission Worker Sunday, which Presbyterians will celebrate on May 29, mission co-workers led a special PC(USA) virtual worship service Wednesday morning.

Vilmarie Cintrón-Olivieri, regional liaison for the Caribbean, and Ellen Sherby, acting associate director of Global Connections, sought input from mission co-workers serving alongside global partners is 80 countries around the world for the event.

 Liturgists included mission co-workers:

  • Jhanderys Dotel-Vellenga, delegations coordinator for the Council of Protestant Churches in Nicaragua (CEPAD)
  • The Rev. Dr. Jonathan Seitz, Professor of theology and missiology, Taiwan
  • The Rev. Dr. Noah Park, Professor of New Testament, Evangelical Theological Seminary, Cairo, Egypt
  • The Rev. Leslie Vogel, regional liaison for Guatemala and Mexico.

Prior to the beginning of the service, participants heard “One Thing I Am Sure,” written, sung and recorded by the Rev. Garikai Gwangwava, pastor in the Presbytery of Zimbabwe, Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa. In light of the events of the past few days, it seemed to resonate. View a performance of “One Thing I am Sure” by clicking at the top of this report.

“One thing I am sure, I will never give up. For I know my God lives on. Because He lives, I can face tomorrow. Because He lives, my hope is strong.”

 “I am hard-pressed on every side, but not crushed. I am perplexed but not in despair, oh yes. I am persecuted but not abandoned; struck down but not destroyed. Because I know my God lives on.”

The Rev. Alison Infante, Moderator of the Inglesia Presbyteriana Reformada in Cuba, offered a song as part of the service. (Photo by Kathy Melvin)

 Cintrón-Olivieri offered a welcome.

“Today, we share a snapshot of ministry and worship expressions through the lens of mission co-worker siblings serving in the Presbyterian World Mission with global partners in Europe and the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Africa. Through songs and prayers and pictures, we embark on a virtual journey around the world in an adaptation of the Wednesday morning prayer liturgy. As part of the global family, we lift up our voices to God in gratitude and intercession in lament and hope. Having been called to serve with global partners we come alongside, and nurture faith-filled relationships based in equity, mutuality and justice rooted in God’s love and the Gospel of Jesus.”

Jhanderys Dotel-Vellenga read scripture from Ezekiel 37, the Valley of Dry Bones, saying that hope was not gone forever, no matter what the current circumstances. I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.’”

 The Rev. Cathy Chang joined from Quezon City, Philippines, where she is attending the final day of the General Assembly of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, a global partner of the PC(USA), with the installation of newly elected church leaders and bishops. She said the general theme of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines for the upcoming ecclesial year is “rebuilding and restoring with hope heralding the full life,” another reference to Ezekiel 37.

“Rebuilding and restoration are visions, hopes and actions towards the realization of full life,” she said. “We can safely say that the gospel of faith is the full life which we can experience in part, or as a foretaste when God reigns in us in our world and Creation. Rebuilding and restoration presupposes an experience of fragmentation and destruction, to rebuild, to build and to plant.” According to Chang, Jeremiah 1:10 teaches us we must “dig deep into the roots of human crisis.”

One of the inspirational quotes sent in by mission co-workers for the service.

During a time of prayer, participants were asked to lift up prayers for the healing and brokenness of the world.

“Especially we pray for the church in Europe and the Middle East, the church in Asia and the Pacific, the church in Latin America and the Caribbean, the church in Africa for safe, clean and renewable energy for those who are lonely and forgotten, for those from whom we are estranged, the courage to claim your promise in Christ,” said Vogel. “And in these moments when it is hard to find words, when we are in shock, silence, rage, grief, and lament, we pray for our country, for the United States, in this most recent act of massive gun violence, for the situation that allows these acts to continue.”

She asked others to list their concerns in the chat box.

Daoud Nasser of the Tent of Nations was one of the many global partners featured in the service. (Photo by Kathy Melvin)

To read more about the mission co-workers around the world ahead of Mission Worker Sunday, click on this Mission Yearbook page.

Following the chapel service, a large group of PC(USA) staff joined for an additional few moments of prayer and Scripture and lament, remembering and standing with those whose lives were lost Tuesday to gun violence in Uvalde, Texas and remembering also those from this past week both in Laguna Woods, California and in Buffalo, New York.

Revised Common Lectionary Readings for Sunday, May 29, 2022, the Seventh Sunday of Easter (Year C)

First Reading Acts 16:16-34
Psalm 97:1-12
Second Reading Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-21
Gospel John 17:20-26

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