GA News: Supporters celebrate renewed spirit for world mission work

SAN JOSE — Participants at the Presbyterian World Mission Luncheon June 22 couldn’t help but try out the proposed name change for the General Assembly Mission Council. When GAC chair-elect, Carol Adcock (Grace Presbytery) announced, “General Assembly Mission Council,” applause ensued.

         More than 300 mission personnel, co-workers and ecumenical partners celebrated a “renewed spirit” towards world mission work. They also hope that the budget General Assembly commissioners approve this week will include funding for 24 additional mission co-workers who will serve in 17 countries.

         “The budget, if approved, would reverse a 50-year-long downward trend in the number of world mission workers,” said the Rev. Hunter Farrell, director of world mission, which sparked more applause.

         And if it happens, each person gathered should “consider yourself one of our recruiters” or fundraisers because the budget would not include all the related costs of mission work.

         Farrell said more mission co-workers are not the final solution for the world’s problems. World mission work has another component often missed.

         The work is not only supposed to transform the people where it takes place, he said. It is supposed to be communicated to congregations everywhere in such a way that transforms them as well.

         Communication is an essential component of the renewed interest in world mission, Dr. Maria Zack, president of the Medical Benevolence Foundation, told the crowd.

“There is a willingness to go faster, but we also need a willingness to slow down to work with others,” Zack said.

         She gave an example of how renewed movement has been independently motivated, which often overwhelms the partners at the destination of the mission. One hospital ministry in an African country was confused and swamped by the support of three unrelated PC(USA) congregations who each wanted to send 10 volunteers to work during the same two weeks.

         It was good that someone helped slow down the excited plans. This led to the three congregations still going, but on separate trips spaced three weeks apart, Zack said.

         “I hope and pray we are moving into an era that is interdependent,” she said. Zack primarily spoke of the “miraculous” agreement by diverse mission supporters who gathered in Dallas, TX, in January. It resulted in “An Invitation to Expanding Partnership in God’s Mission,” and called people to sign what is commonly called “The Dallas Covenant.”

 The covenant affirms that Presbyterian mission is “God-called, Christ-centered and Spirit-led,” that it involves “both proclamation and service” and “is the reason the church exists.”