Inclusive communities. Worship and Discipleship. Interfaith relations and ecumenism. Militarisation and Conflict. CWM’s programmes 2016-2019 such as our flagship Training in Mission (TIM) Programme have been designed and developed around nine such global themes, grounded in CWM priorities and informed by CWM’s vision of “fullness of life through Christ for all creation” and mission of being “called to partnership in Christ to mutually challenge, encourage, and equip member churches to share in God’s mission”.
TIM Programme is part of CWM’s efforts to develop capacities of our member churches, while concurrently enhancing the scope for the church’s public witness. Among other initiatives, TIM positively influences, enables and empowers a new generation of leaders to explore and be witnesses as disciples of Jesus Christ in service to the church and for the enhancement of God’s transformative mission.
A group of young adults aged 18 to 30 years old who are not ordained yet, have been undergoing seven months of mission learning in theory and in practice through classes, exposure visits, projects and hands-on work in various contexts. This year, it was hosted by Trinity Methodist Theological College (TMTC) in New Zealand, and subsequently CWM Pacific Region’s office in Fiji and Presbyterian Church in Korea.
Their first study sessions by TMTC lecturer Dr Emily Colgan’s Bible and Guide to Biblical Orientation course addressed CWM’s global theme of “worship and discipleship”.
She discussed the Bible’s background history and how to recognize empire and culture within the Bible. Participants learned about different lenses in reading and interpreting the Bible, and three interpretation methods: Author-Oriented, Text-Oriented and Reader-Oriented. She also discussed the four Christian fundamental, evangelical, postmodern and cultural thinkers outside Christianity. These orientation sessions were helpful for the participants, mostly non-theologians, as they embarked on the journey of reading and understanding the Bible in the context of the empire.
Another CWM theme “militarisation and conflict” was also covered by Guest Speaker Ms Te Rito Peyroux from the Free West Papua movement composed of Pacifika people based in Auckland, who spoke to the group on Oceania Interrupted. She explained that Pacific people need to stand together and fight for the freedom of West-Papua, as it is currently colonised by Indonesia, even though it is an Oceania Country and belongs to the Pacific Region. To achieve their goal, they came up with “Empowering Collective Action”, an idea to raise awareness among more people by taking fifteen different actions in different places in NZ.
“Inclusive communities” was also a Programme emphasis, with visits were made to New Zealand Prostitutes Collective where they listened to the advocates for sex workers for their rights and voices to be heard and Rainbow Centre, a youth led, youth-run charity organization, with board members between ages 12 to 27, that supports and advocates for LGBTIQ persons. They were also exposed to “doing mission without Bible in hand” as they visited Solway Trust, a loving home for persons with disabilities.
This immersion visit left a deep impression on Moshibudi Karabo from Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa (UPCSA), who saw the expression of God’s love and joy mirrored in a country and culture different from her own.
“Mission at Solway Trust reminded me that I might be the only bible people read and often my time and my joy writes a Scripture at the particular moment. We have something of that nature in South Africa but experiencing it in a different context painted a new picture in my heart”, said Karabo.
Gubriel Biswas from Church of Bangladesh (COB) added: “Solway Trust is a place where people with disabilities are encouraged to forget their weaknesses and live like normal people. I think it is the place to encourage people to live the life.”
There were also inter-faith exposure visits to a mosque during Ramadan and a Jewish synagogue during their service of welcoming Shabbat. This was a reminder and acknowledgement that interfaith relations and issues is a central theme for mission and affirming our participation in the global church in response to our call to be one, and to actively seek partnership among diverse faith groups to pursue our shared spirituality.
The unique Maori culture drew participants’ attention too. Said Rakotoarimanana Rado Daniela, from Church of Jesus Christ in Madagascar (FJKM): “In Maori traditions, the first thing that caught my eye is those tattoos on their skin… Each of them carries more than just a picture, they have their own stories, their traditions, their places in their own tribes, their generations, their genealogy. Those tattoos remind them of who they are and where they come from.”
Another participant Isaako Tunumoso from Congregational Christian Church in Samoa (CCCS) echoed his sentiments and shared how “as a Samoan, we also have tattoos and we call it the ‘sogaimiti’ for men and the ‘malu’ for women and it also tells our history in our country.”