Written by Cally Rogers-Witte
September - October 2009
Alleluia! The recent General Synod declared itself "A Global Mission Church" and invites you to do the same. This is not the promotion of one program of the church; it is an affirmation of a core identity that we share — it's in our DNA! In these days of globalization, when the world gets smaller, the imperative to reaffirm our identity as a global mission church is more urgent than ever. We couldn't be isolated from the rest of the world if we tried. And yet sometimes the global connections we are part of are ones that deny the sacred truth of our God-given unity with God's children around the world.
Our clothes may have been made in sweatshops. Our food may be mass produced for export at the expense of hungry children from small farm families. The coltan in our cell phones fuels a horribly violent war in the eastern part of the Congo. The world creates connections that may contradict our values. We are called to affirm and create connections that refl ect the love and justice of God.
Believing that God's global mission calls us to share life together, we've turned "doing to" and "doing for" others into "doing with" or simply "being with" in genuine global partnerships.
This "being with" is what we call critical presence at the point of deepest need, sharing the healing, teaching and reconciling love of God in Christ with those who live in desperate poverty or great danger.
Our critical presence today means sending, at our church partners' request, medical missionaries to Haiti, East Timor and India. Our critical presence supports HIV/AIDS educational programs and hospice care in South Africa. Critical presence means walking with those who work for peace between the two Koreas or in Israel/Palestine. It means responding to a special appeal of One Great Hour of Sharing for victims of a major earthquake in China, floods in Bangladesh, or hurricanes in the Caribbean and southern United States.
Critical presence means sending a theological educator to work with a new generation of pastors in the Peoples Republic of China. Sometimes the critical presence our partners ask for is our advocacy with our own government to change a U.S. policy that can make a huge difference for partners in another country. Sometimes our critical presence simply means holding hands with, or holding in prayer, courageous churches in Myanmar, Columbia or Zimbabwe.
Your support of Our Churches Wider Mission (OCWM) undergirds all this critical presence and much more. Your own engagement in God's global mission extends the presence of the UCC even farther. Being a Global Mission Church can challenge your members to stretch toward a new level of commitment to God's so-loved world. Whether your next step is to pray regularly for a missionary, study globalization, sponsor a child, or plan a People-to-People group mission or study trip, using the Be a Global Mission Church workbook www.globalministries.org/about-us/be-a-global-mission-church can deepen your church's participation in God's global mission. Alleluia!
The Rev. Cally Rogers-Witte is the UCC's executive minister for Wider Church Ministries and co-executive of Global Ministries. She also is a member of the UCC's five-person Collegium of Officers.