The CWM’s Onesimus Project has its roots in the CWM Legacies of Slavery (LOS) Programme that sought to address the roots of racialised inequalities and injustices within the CWM family of church and the wider world. This focus was embraced in recognition that the roots of racialised inequalities and injustices were also embedded within the missionary heritage of mission societies like CWM’s forebear, London Missionary Society (LMS).
Onesimus offers us a Biblical story to open up the issues of enslavement, release, confession, discipleship
The Onesimus Project: Sounding the urgent call to liberation and transformation
The Onesimus narrative in the Epistle to Philemon served as a missional text in shaping the CWM Partner in Mission understanding and practice in the first decade of its existence. The narrative focused on the priority of building just relationships within ecclesial communities built on unjust structures of power dynamics. Onesimus offers us a Biblical story to open up the issues of enslavement, release, confession, discipleship in ways, while framed around the Trans-Atlantic Slave trade, significantly opens up and out into the many complex forms of enslavement in other contexts and times including the current time. It helps us face the nature of our fellowship, which includes sinner (Philemon) and sinned-against (Onesimus), and name compromised complacent religious power (Paul).
Key Priority Areas
- Legacies of Slavery: Act of apology and repentance, Reparation of victims, Research and publication
- Modern Day Slavery: Identify modern forms of slavery, Racial justice, Initiated by member churches and regions
- Education for Liberation: Advocacy and movement, Training and community development, Alternative theological education
- Transformative Ecumenism: Re-imagination of ecumenism, Solidarity for liberating ecu. movement