The CWM board members who were elected at the Assembly in June converged in Singapore for a three-day meeting, 23 to 25 October, 2016. Their first activity was the Sunday worship service at Amazing Grace Presbyterian Church – a congregation within the CWM member-church Presbyterian Church in Singapore (PCS). The senior minister of Amazing Grace, Rev Dr Steven Gan welcomed the board and hosted them for lunch. CWM Moderator, Rev DC Haia brought greetings to the congregation and shared CWM’s vision and mission.
He reiterated the theme Healing: Hope in Action which was launched at the CWM Assembly in June and will inform CWM work for the next four years. This theme invites us to faithful discipleship, grounded in hope, that our faithful actions will lead to healing to the brokenness experienced throughout all of God’s creation. The Moderator extoled the Secretariat, under the able leadership of the General Secretary Rev Collin Cowan for rolling out a six-point programme aimed at giving content to the theme and proving opportunities for member churches and the ecumenical community to reinterpret the meaning of mission in the context of Empire. In his role as Moderator, and on behalf of the Board, he invited the worshippers to join CWM “on the journey of hope so that together we may make a difference in a world that is yearning for leadership defined that is by integrity, courage and a sense of purpose.” He thanked the senior minister and the congregation for the gracious hospitality in receiving the team for the ways in which the PCS had accompanied the CWM Secretariat and board over the years.
Rev Haia introduced the board members as being from all the six regions of CWM regions as follows: Botswana & South Africa (Africa), New Zealand & Tuvalu (Pacific), Jamaica & Guyana (Caribbean), Wales & England (Europe), India (South Asia), Hong Kong, Taiwan & Singapore (South East Asia). It is a fifteen-strong board; thirteen constituting the CWM Ltd Board of Directors and two independent members who, along with four Directors from CWM Ltd, form the Trustee Body of Council for World Mission (UK). He noted that the role of the board was to serve CWM jointly with the Secretariat to serve members like PCS, by taking seriously the CWM mission statement: “Called as partners in Christ, to mutually challenge, encourage and equip churches to share in God’s mission”.
As part of their orientation the new board members also visited the CWM Singapore office to acquaint themselves with this part of the secretariat (CWM has two other offices located in Africa and Europe). Their time at the office commenced with opening worship and a Bible reflection led by the Moderator. He shared with the directors on the story of David and Goliath, noting how it captivated him while translating the Bible into his local language. He outlined the mood and movement of the story, pointing out the spirit and power within it, which spoke deeply about mission and ministry and the need to be bold and hopeful. He used that theme to encourage and inspire the CWM directors at the start of their tenure and the staff in their continuing work. The Moderator reminded the directors and staff that the numerous obstacles to mission within the context of Empire which are of “Goliath” proportions. Empire has many death-dealing warriors that threaten and intimidate those, like CWM, whose stance is to affirm life. Empire with its many imposing systems and institutions can co-opt and stifle life-affirming efforts. Nonetheless, the Moderator urged all to trust, like David, that the Spirit of the Lord is upon us and the mighty will surely fall. He exhorted the CWM family to nurture and strengthen each other in our vision to attain “Fullness of Life for all creation”. He said this was the only way we can empower each other to be faithful to Christ and hopeful in His healing power as we build life-affirming communities together.
During the board meetings, CWM’s 40th Anniversary (1977-2017) programme was unveiled with detailed proposals for the year-long celebrations which will take place in 2017. Centred on the Assembly theme “Healing: Hope in Action”, the celebrations will be integrated within existing CWM programmes at global and regional levels and will include a publication of 40 missional stories from individuals and member churches.
During the meeting, the directors had opportunities to share fellowship over lunch at the office. This provided them an opportunity to put names to faces of the Singapore-based staff. CWM treasurer, Mr John Ellis, summed up this experience when he aptly offered: “The board reflects much of CWM’s diversity and it was fascinating for us as new directors to discover some of our common issues and complementary perspectives.”