CWM Board adjourns with honed vision, plans for 2024 Assembly

by Cheon Young Cheol

The Solomon Islands played host for the first time to a Council for World Mission (CWM) Board of Directors’ meeting held 26-27 February—the board’s last in-person meeting before the CWM Assembly in June.

The Moderator of the United Church in the Solomon Islands, Rev. Armstrong Pitakaji, opened the meeting by extending warm greetings to the delegates.

“The Solomon Islands are truly blessed by the work of CWM through the years, and we are ever grateful,” he said.

Togetherness is urgent

The two-day meeting was opened by CWM Moderator Rt Rev. Lydia Neshangwe, who preached from Acts 17:13-15, which tells the story of the separation of Paul, Silas, and Timothy during their missional journeys.

Neshangwe shared the fact that, while Paul was cognizant that the trio could do well while separated, spiritual transformation was only possible when they worked together.

“Believers in church may find themselves separated through various reasons like misunderstandings or diverging perspectives,” explained Neshangwe. “However, true transformation can only take place when we work together. Togetherness is all at once important and urgent.”

She then drew a parallel between the story in Acts 17 and the theme of the upcoming General Assembly. “Therefore, for there to be a rise to life, let us be together to be transformed.”

General Secretarys report

In his report, CWM General Secretary Rev. Dr Jooseop Keum gave a recount of CWM projects and achievements, including the election of Neshangwe as the CWM Moderator. She is the first female President to serve the All Africa Conference of Churches in its 60-year history.

Keum also highlighted CWM’s continued support to the World Communion of Reformed Churches’ (WCRC) justice desk for the renewed period of two years from 2024-2025, following a memorandum of understanding signed between the two organisations in 2023.

Part of the support will entail collaboration between CWM and WCRC on The Onesimus Project, Transformative Ecumenism, and Kairos Palestine.

Additionally, Keum reported on the upcoming CWM Internship Programme, which has approved three candidates. “The CWM Internship is not just another youth training programme. It provides mission opportunities for young people to gain experience in both mission and leadership development,” he explained.

The Board was also informed of the conferment of the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Honoris Causa) in Theology to Keum for his contributions towards mission and theology, efforts in empowering youth and women, and promoting justice and human rights.

Gearing up for the Assembly

As work for the upcoming Assembly in June continues to ramp up, the Assembly Planning Group delivered its latest progress report concerning delegates nominated thus far, the status of invited guests, and other logistical matters.

A detailed rundown of the Assembly programmes was presented to the Board who expressed appreciation for the preparatory work.

Proposals for Onesimus funding roll in

A brief update on The Onesimus Project (TOP) was made on the progress of member churches seeking funding. The funds include the Reparatory Justice Fund, Healing of Memories Fund, and Modern Slavery Fund. This follows the approval of funding guidelines at the last Board meeting.

The Board was also briefed on the upcoming Global Consultation on Modern Day Slavery in October 2024. The consultation seeks to evolve a CWM global strategy to empower and equip member churches in addressing country-specific concerns related to contemporary slavery.

Reprising successful CWM programmes

On the second day of the meeting, the Programme Reference Group gave an update detailing programmes that have been lined up for 2024.

Programmes that enjoyed success in 2023 are set to reprise this year including Training-in-Mission (TIM) which commences in May and A New Face in September. Meanwhile, the Mission from the Margins programme area will continue to focus on Social Justice-related programmes, including a Youth and Racism programme to be held in August in India.

Additionally, the Discipleship, Spiritualities, and Dialogue programme team will organise a programme on Spirituality, Politics, and Polity in March. It was also reported that TOP will be meeting in April to further develop plans for community development and reparations.

Farewell and next board meeting

As the meeting concluded, the staff and Board present also bade farewell to Rev. Dr Sindiso Jele, who will be stepping down as CWM’s Mission Secretary for Social Justice and the Africa Region in March.

The meeting was closed with a prayer from Jele.

The next Board meeting will be held via video conference on 23-24 May.

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