The MMF for the Europe region was held at Hothorpe Hall in Leicestershire. Set in beautiful countryside, the gathered representatives of the European member churches were challenged to engage with the contemporary context and explore how the churches are responding.
A Colourful Journey
The MMF was opened by an act of worship led by Jet den Hollander who took the 40th Anniversary of CWM as a guiding theme. Framed as a colourful journey, key moments of CWM’s past 4 decades were celebrated with a corresponding colour being brought to a table and laid as a rainbow.
The MMF was led in a context reading by Rev Dr Anderson Jeremiah, from Lancaster University, who gave a picture of a complex and multi-layered society that is dynamic and changing. It was asserted that there is no unified understanding of how all of humanity belongs together in contemporary society. Similarly, concern was raised that the Christian narrative can be owned in the public sphere by right-wing evangelical voices that are often aligned with conservative ideologies, meaning that movements of inclusion and hope led by congregations of all colours are often overlooked. A culture that is dominated by consumerist values places profit over people, a value system at odds with the message of the Gospel.
The context reading was closed with a theo-political and missional metaphor: Isaiah 58:12. The challenge to congregations and followers of Jesus is to be the repairers and builders of bridges, speaking of hope and grace, justice and peace.
Having engaged with the context reading, member churches were then asked to identify the key challenges to their mission contexts. The themes that emerged were diverse and included: ageing demographics, health and well-being, multi-culturalism and migration, evangelism and discipleship, buildings, ministry and leadership, austerity and hopelessness in society. Participants identified ways that member churches were responding to these challenges at local and national level. The responses given and the conversations entered into here will inform the final sessions which are designed to give space for discerning new partnerships that CWM can facilitate.
The MMF will visit the Leicester City of Sanctuary group that are responding to the needs of asylum seekers in the city as well as others in positions of vulnerability in their community. This immersion visit is designed to give a sense of reality and grounding to the conversations of the MMF and will be a chance for those gathered here to meet with Christians finding ways to serve God and serve others in community.