Delegates from the member churches of CWM Caribbean, Guyana Congregational Union (GCU) and the United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands (UCJCI), along with our ecumenical partner CANACOM (Caribbean and North America Council for Mission), Board Members, Partners in Mission, and guests met in Kingston, Jamaica for the CWM Caribbean Regional Assembly. From 18-22 September, 19 participants, staff and missiological reflector engaged with the theme rise to life – building life flourishing communities through worship, bible studies, various presentations, conversations, visits, fellowship and much more.
The Assembly was blessed with two opening greetings from CWM General Secretary Revd Dr Jooseop Keum and UCJCI Moderator Rt. Rev Gary Harriot offering helpful insights and key questions for the gathering to reflect upon: how can we reclaim mission as emancipatory and transformative and what kind of missional action do we need to put in place to affirm life in all its fullness for all? Given the urgency of contextual life-denying realities in the Caribbean how must we understand and live in the reality of the Christ, who in the face of death and hopelessness said, “I am the resurrection and the life”? What does it mean for a church to say we are resurrection people?
Each day of the gathering had an intentional focus: life flourishing – liberation and liberating – gender justice-capital and economic wellbeing, which participants explored, wrestled with, dug-deeper into, prayed, and reflected together through specially crafted worship and interactive bible studies. They also joined three local UCJCI congregations at worship and banquet worship with a timely sermon from UCJCI General Secretary Rev. Norbert Stephens.
Through digital media inputs on community presence, engagement and interventions by churches were received from the Philippines, South Africa and Britain, together with live contributions from partners in mission, CANACOM and the Caribbean member churches on the life flourishing projects they are involved in. Working in groups participants identified three collaborative life-flourishing initiatives they would like to explore with their communities upon their return. There was also input from the Child Protection and Family Services in Jamaica and our site visit to experience the excellent work of Children’s First and to see first-hand an aspect of their work with children at Dupont Primary School.
Linnette Vassell, Gender Justice Advocate, Community Campaigner, Lecturer and member of UCJCI facilitated the Regional Assembly’s engagement on gender-justice, stirring lively table conversations and a commitment towards greater intentional work among member churches and churches in the region. Theological-missiological reflector Rev. Marvia Lawes helped the gathering to pull the threads of our conversations together, offered challenging questions, and identified the areas of work CWM Regional and global work should pay closer attention to (gender justice, racial justice and climate justice).
Having noted equal representation of female and male attendees, as well as younger and older adults, Rev. Marvia Lawes summed up the gathering in these words:
“Through stirring worship, disturbing and insightful bible studies, we the engaged participants of the Caribbean Regional Assembly of the Council for World Mission wrestled with tough texts and hard lessons, confessed our squandering of resources and missed opportunities, celebrated testimonies of faithful stewardship, and prayerfully recommitted ourselves to consistent prayerful reflection and life flourishing action.”
The CWM Caribbean Regional Assembly was intentionally interactive, conversational and dialogical, working on the premise that some of the assets towards building life-flourishing communities were already in the room of the gathering. This approach resulted in an interactive, vibrant, affirming, challenging, resourced, spirit filled and discerning Regional Assembly.
Dated 3 October 2022