World Alliance of Reformed Churches News Release 11 June 2007
Partnership necessary to reshape mission for the 21st century
Churches need to examine their old mission strategies and reshape them for the 21st century, says Setri Nyomi, general secretary of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC).
While churches talk of partnership in mission, many efforts continue to reflect an old style where the rich churches give and the poor receive, Nyomi said at a gathering of mission partners of the Christian Reformed Church in North America at Grand Rapids, Michigan, on 8 June.
"True partnership, in which sisters and brothers can share equally in mission engagement in a multidirectional fashion, will not happen until Christians are very intentional about challenging and exposing our old ways.
"Addressing this problem is at the heart of strengthening the relationships we have with one another as we engage in mission," the WARC general secretary added.
The assembly of worldwide mission partners, called "Transforming for Transformation," coincided with the 150th anniversary of the Christian Reformed Church in North America, a WARC member church with 300,000 members in 1,000 congregations in the United States and Canada.
The church has planned a number of events this year to mark the anniversary, including a major worship service at a Grand Rapids arena held on 10 June which also launched the church's 2007 General Synod.
Nyomi congratulated the Christian Reformed Church in North America on its 150th anniversary and for its commitment to "rethinking mission in a manner that makes our engagement relevant for the times in which we live."
Mission that involves missionaries or agencies from North America or Europe working in Africa, Asia, Latin America or the Caribbean is a thing of the past, the WARC leader said. No matter where the church is located, there is always mission in its own backyard.
"An important base for mission is always around us in our localities. Whether the church is here in the United States or somewhere in Africa, Asia or Latin America, the first calling into mission applies to our close neighbourhoods," Nyomi said.
"Local mission is therefore very important. When it comes to mission abroad, we have the opportunity now to welcome missionaries from other parts of the world to North America and Europe just as missionaries from here go to other parts.
"Whether the mission is home or abroad, we do not simply go into another country to do things for the people we meet there. We have a responsibility to engage in mission with them."
The world is now "in a virtual state of survival of the fittest," with economic globalization, war, discrimination and environmental degradation, Nyomi said. Churches need to stay relevant to their communities and equip their members to be engaged in the transformation of those communities.
"Many of the Christian Reformed Church in North America's partners in mission live and witness in the global South affected by these issues. They would want their partners to take their realities very seriously as we pray together and journey with one another in God's mission.
"We need to covenant for justice together and be partners both in presenting the good news of our Lord Jesus Christ and in creating a more just world."
The World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC) brings together 75 million Reformed Christians in 214 churches in 107 countries - united in their commitment to making a difference in a troubled world. The WARC general secretary is Rev. Dr. Setri Nyomi of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Ghana. WARC's secretariat is based in Geneva, Switzerland.
Contact: John P. Asling Executive Secretary, Communications World Alliance of Reformed Churches 150 Route de Ferney P.O. Box 2100 1211 Geneva 2, Switzerland tel. +41.22 791 6243 fax: +41.22 791 6505 web: www.warc.ch