Written by Anthony Moujaes
To lay out a roadmap in the fight against hunger and poverty in 2013, the United Church of Christ’s Wider Church Ministries is hosting members from Church World Service at a week-long retreat at Franklinton Center at Bricks. The group, gathering at the conference center in eastern North Carolina at the invitation of Wider Church Ministries executive minister, the Rev. Jim Moos, is collaborating on ways to begin work to promote peace and justice globally in the upcoming year.
"As a church we are deeply committed to the unity of the body of Christ," Moos said. "We are called to work not alone, but in partnership with other communions."
The annual gathering of the heads of mission agencies from the member churches of Church World Service brings together about a dozen advocates at Franklinton Center. The CWS members are primarily from mainline protestant churches, though an Orthodox representative is attending.
The UCC's primary ecumenical relationship is with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ); together, the UCC’s Wider Church Ministries and the Disciples of Christ work as Global Ministries.
"Global Ministries also works with other denominational mission agencies in a variety of ways, including the joint appointment of mission personnel and in our advocacy for peace and justice," Moos said. The annual meeting is also an opportunity to network with other CWS members, and open a dialogue to share ideas about what works and what doesn’t as they support each other in ministry.
Each year, a member denomination volunteers to host the gathering, so Moos invited the group to Franklinton Center for the retreat because it was a "natural" selection.
"Franklinton Center is a sacred place in the United Church of Christ. Its history is rooted in the American Missionary Association and its calling to educate former slaves and their children. It continues to be a beacon of hope in the local community and a place of service to the broader church and world. The staff and the hospitality at Franklinton Center are outstanding."
In recent years, the UCC has supported Church World Service projects for refugee and humanitarian crisis in the Middle East, an outbreak of cholera in Haiti, disaster support (such as Hurricane Sandy), and ongoing work for immigration reform.