Happy Independence Day!!
True confession time for me: lately, I’ve had a bit of trouble feeling excited about celebrating some of our national holidays because of some words and actions by our elected public servants. I don’t believe the Founding Fathers had any idea that we might get to the point in these United States where individuals would not have the freedoms for which they fought and for which many died. I will, indeed, celebrate a little with friends on Wednesday evening at our local fireworks and Thursday at a holiday dinner and my focus will be to pray for what I believe our country has the potential to be when we all work together.
Speaking of working together, we have a resolution from last summer’s General Convention that speaks of working together on many levels. Resolution A207 Encouraging Mission as Part of the Beloved Community speaks to our need to come together recognizing that we are all a part of the Beloved Community and truly need one another. The originators of the resolution defined mission as: “…a companion relationship, sharing of gifts, that all parties bring to the relationship.”
A207: Encouraging Mission as Part of the Beloved Community
Resolved, That the 79th General Convention reaffirm that “being a beloved community” means being members of a global community honoring our full name: The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the Protestant Episcopal Church; and be it further
Resolved, That this General Convention affirm that in baptism we are called to companionship, which means standing with, traveling with, and sharing bread with another; and be it further
Resolved, That this General Convention continue to repent of colonialism and recognize that the work of mission is a Christ-centered, mutual undertaking, which is most effective when the traditional roles of “giver” and “receiver” are discarded, and the gifts of all are accepted, welcomed, and utilized; and be it further
Resolved, That this General Convention encourage dioceses, congregations and mission organizations to establish productive, mutual relationships with other outreach communities that have similar intent, but may not be part of the Episcopal Church; and be it further
Resolved, That this General Convention urge dioceses, congregations, and individuals to pray regularly for specific dioceses and congregations and individuals with whom they are in companionship; and be it further
Resolved, That this General Convention encourage dioceses, congregations and individuals to form one-to-one relationships through social media with individuals and congregations with whom they are in companionship.
To understand the intent of the originators of this resolution, I hunted for the explanation they submitted along with it. Please remember that the explanation is not a part of the final resolution and is only here to provide you with some helpful background and understanding.
In our contemporary globally interconnected world, international mission has evolved from a colonial paternalistic view of mission to an understanding of being sent to share the gospel of Jesus’ love.
Mission is now understood as a companion relationship, sharing of gifts, that all parties bring to the relationship.
Mission experiences of encountering God in others whose culture may be very different from our own have the power to transform individuals and communities. In the words of Barbara Brown Taylor, “The hardest spiritual work in the world is to love the neighbor as the self- to encounter human being not as someone you can use, change, fix, help, save, enroll, convince or control, but simply as someone who can spring you from the prison of yourself, if you will allow it.”
This proposed resolution encourages dioceses, congregations, individuals to develop international mission relationships of mutually shared gifts, shared worship, and shared experiences. It is the intent that there be an understanding of mutual work among faith based organizations when working to live out our baptismal vows. In preparation and implementation of mission engagement, we encourage use of resources from the Global Episcopal Mission Network (GEMN), Episcopal Relief & Development, or other diocesan resources that may be available.
Even as I write this blog, our Youth and Young Adults (YAYA’s) are on their visit to the Dominican Republic for Camp Compassion doing construction work in the area of Puerto Plata. This summer, 14 missioners went with Eric Travis, Missioner for Youth and Young Adults and other chaperons as one way of living into the intent of this resolution. You can check out their blog and great photos to get a glimpse of what the Beloved Community can do when working together.
Our congregation at St Michael and All Angels, Cambridge Junction, might be small yet we are excited by our mission opportunities. Our location right by the Michigan International Speedway (MIS) can be a real handicap for a couple of Sundays each summer. The police reroute traffic on Race Weekends making it challenging to depart from church on the Sunday of those weekends so we move our service to Saturday evening. While this may be inconvenient for some, it has provided another opportunity for outreach right in our own backyard! There are too may attendees at the races and Faster Horses, Michigan’s Country Music Festival that happens in July, for us to tackle ministry to them but we can make a difference for the State Police that congregate right near our property! This is the second year we have provided water and snacks and conversation for them as they provide security for the thousands of guests in our neighborhood. This ministry for us is something every member of St Michael’s supports by either purchasing the goodies or being part of the teams that make the deliveries.
Prayer in the Park sponsored by Grace Episcopal Church, Southgate, and St Michael and All Angels, Lincoln Park, takes place every Wednesday evening in the summer at Bishop Park in Wyandotte overlooking the Detroit River. All are welcome to join for prayer and worship and good company! This local ministry also fulfills the intention of this resolution as the congregations resolve to make new friends and build new relationships.
And then there’s social media. Many of our congregations and ministries are active on Facebook and Instagram. These resources can be wonderful platforms for offering encouragement and prayer for one another while making new connections to build community. It’s quick and easy to make a comment, share a prayer, or merely “like” a mission project posted by one of our EDOMI family or other partners in ministry in our area. And, from personal experience, I can attest that it means a lot.
These are just a few examples of living into this resolution. There are so many other significant things happening around our diocese. What are you and your congregation doing? Telling your story may just spark an idea for another individual or congregation that will prompt new mission opportunities for the Beloved Community!
Let us pray –
O gracious and loving God, you work everywhere reconciling, loving, and healing your people and your creation. In your Son and through the power of your Holy
Spirit, you invite each of us to join you in your work. We, young and old, lay and ordained, ask you to form us more and more in your image and likeness, through our prayer and worship of you and through the study of your scripture, that our eyes will be fully opened to your mission in the world. Then, God, into our communities, our nation, and the world, send us to serve with Christ, taking risks to give life and hope to all people and all of your creation. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen. (Global Episcopal Mission Network)
~ The Rev. Judith Schellhammer, chair, Resolution Review Committee, Diocesan Council