Climate change and ecological degradation constitute the major planetary crisis of our time. How can Christians in global mission engage with the crisis through the Creator God, the Redeeming Christ and the Empowering Spirit?  What can our mission companions around the world teach us about climate justice, and how can we collaborate with them?

The 2021 Global Mission Conference sponsored by the Global Episcopal Mission Network (GEMN) will address these urgent questions under the theme Earthkeeping: Creation Care in Global Mission.  Mission activists from around the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion are encouraged to attend.

This year’s conference will be held online via Zoom on Earth Day – Thursday, April 22 – & the following Friday & Saturday, April 23 & 24. So save the dates!  Each day will have one 3-hour session: 10am-1pm Pacific = 1-4pm Eastern = 6-9pm GMT = 8-11pm pm South Africa. Register here.

Attendance at the conference is by donation.  In other words, there is no fee, yet attendees are encouraged to make a donation as they are able, especially to become a GEMN member.  There will also be opportunity to contribute to ecological justice projects in various parts of the world.

Plenary speakers include:

• Canon Dr. Rachel Mash of Green Anglicans in South Africa and the Anglican Communion Environmental Network will speak on forming mission companionship for climate justice.

• The Rev. Leon Sampson of Navajoland will share how Native American spirituality can inform missional creation care.

• The Rev. Dr. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas of Western Massachusetts will explore a theology and spirituality of creation care.

• Bishop Orlando Gomez of Costa Rica will share from the experience of his diocese in caring for the creation and promoting climate justice in Latin America.

• The Rev. Melanie Mullen, director of reconciliation, justice and creation care for the Episcopal Church, will relate creation care to racial justice and global mission. 

Workshops in breakout rooms will include:

• “Repairing the Earth through a Carbon-Offset Partnership,” led by the Rev. Jeff Gill of Olympia, who will present how Olympia and Southern Philippines are collaborating in the Carbon Offset Cooperative Mission.

• “Creation Care in Haiti: What Does That Mean?” led by Janet and the Rev. Donnel O’Flynn, who will discuss opportunities and obstacles from their work as Episcopal Volunteers in Mission in Haiti. – awaiting confirmation

• “Call Waiting? Discerning a Missionary Vocation,” led by Elizabeth Boe, mission personnel officer in the Office of Global Partnerships of the Episcopal Church.

• “Best Practices for Mission Teams,” led by Bill Kunkle, executive director of the Dominican Development Group, who has led over 500 short-term mission trips.

This year’s conference picks up GEMN’s initiative from last year’s Global Mission Conference, which was canceled in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. The experience of successful GEMN online offerings, such as the Mission Formation Program and Mission Thursdays, as well as many online conferences around the church, makes GEMN confident that this conference will ignite and inspire the joy of God’s mission amid the planetary crisis.

With this conference, GEMN will have addressed all three of the Episcopal Churches trio of priorities: Evangelism was the theme of the 2019 Global Mission Conference in the Dominican Republic.  Reconciliation was the theme of the 2017 conference in Alabama.  Creation Care is the third of the priorities. 

Posted by: Titus Presler | January 25, 2021

Global Mission Prayer Cycle is published by GEMN

A Global Mission Prayer Cycle was published by the Global Episcopal Mission Network last week.  It’s posted in the Resources section of the GEMN website.

Designed to lift up before God the global mission work of Episcopalians, the cycle is arranged on a monthly cycle of 30 days.  It briefly features the work of dioceses, congregations, mission organizations and seminaries – altogether over 90 entities, with three or four cited each day.

Global mission work involves many activities, but a primary commitment for all activists must be simply to pray for those engaged in global mission and for our mission companions around the world.  We often say that mission begins with discerning what God is up to.  Well, that discernment must be grounded in prayer.  And prayer for our own engagement is nurtured and inspired by interceding for those who share a commitment to God’s mission of reconciliation throughout the world.

The prayer cycle seeks to be inclusive, but it cannot claim to be comprehensive.  Users who notice an initiative that is missing or see something that needs to be corrected are asked to write to GEMN at: gemn@gemn.org.

Users of the prayer cycle are encouraged to download it your computers and smartphones for ease of daily use.

The image above is the rose window at the Episcopal Cathedral of St. Peter & St. Paul in Washington, D.C.  The progressively more focused exposures suggest the centering and focusing blessing of prayer in our lives. 

Posted by: Titus Presler | January 25, 2021

President’s Report to GEMN membership

Below is my report on the 2020 activities of the Global Episcopal Mission Network that I posted a week ago to the GEMN website.  It may be of interest to those who don’t frequent that site, where, by the way, you can see further details about all the items cited in the report.  

PRESIDENT’S 2020 REPORT TO THE GEMN MEMBERSHIP

January 2021

Greetings to all in the community of the Global Episcopal Mission Network!  I thank God for your vision of the mission of God in the life of the world, your personal participation in that mission, and your dedication to catalyzing others to join the movement of God in the human and planetary community.

This report is usually made at GEMN’s Annual Meeting, which in 2020 was to take place at the Global Mission Conference at Christ Church Cathedral in Indianapolis, April 28-May 1.  The coronavirus pandemic prompted cancellation of the conference, so no annual meeting could be held.  I am therefore offering this report on the GEMN website.

The coronavirus pandemic has made many things unpredictable in the world at large and in the mission world.  I am reporting to you at this specific time, and all comments about the future will likely be conditioned by emerging constraints and possibilities.

One overall observation is that while the pandemic has imposed many constraints on global mission, it has opened up additional avenues of commitment and relationship.  When we are not preoccupied with logistics of travel and projects we are prompted to attend to the nuances of how we interact with our mission companions in other places.  As many mission companions have testified, including those who spoke at Mission Thursdays, global mission has continued throughout the pandemic.  For GEMN, meeting online – as we’ve done in the Mission Formation Program, the Mission Thursdays series, and in the global conference held in late November by the Partnership for World Mission in Britain – has enabled people in widely dispersed places to engage with one another in ways that are often difficult to arrange and finance in person.  Just as church life in general will never be the same, so global mission will be permanently affected by what the pandemic has taught us about how we can interact.

Read More…

The memorial service for the Rev. Canon Sally Suzanne Peterson, 72, missionary of the Episcopal Church and former member of the Board of Directors of the Global Episcopal Mission Network, was held on Friday, 8 January 2021.

With Iowa Bishop Alan Scarfe presiding, the liturgy was held at St. Paul’s Cathedral, Des Moines, Iowa, and was attended electronically via Zoom by friends around the world, including South Africa, where Suzanne served as a missionary; Brechin in Scotland, where the Diocese of Iowa has a companion diocese; and Argentina, where Suzanne’s longtime missionary friends Heidi Schmidt and Monica Vega are serving.

An eloquent and moving homily was offered by Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of the Anglican Church in Southern Africa.  Former Iowa Bishop Christopher Epting assisted in the eucharistic liturgy, in which participants not on site had the opportunity for ‘spiritual communion.’

The service was followed by conversational sharing among the participants, who spoke of Suzanne’s missionary service, her work for peace and justice and for ecumenical relations, and her commitment to personal relationships.

The service can be viewed at https://www.iowaepiscopal.org/.

Suzanne served a three-year term on the GEMN Board, 2015-18, and also served as secretary.  She was elected to a second term in 2018 and attended that fall’s extended Board meeting at Hephzibah House in New York City.  When ill health began taking a toll, she stepped aside from being secretary, a ministry that Christine Mercer of Alabama then filled.  When she did not feel able to complete her second term she resigned prior to the 2019 Annual Meeting.  Jenny Grant of the Office of Global Partnerships was elected to fill her unexpired term.

Read More…

How to explore global mission during the coronavirus pandemic is the focus of Mission Thursdays with GEMN, a series of online gatherings convened by the Global Episcopal Mission Network (GEMN) in September for conversation with Episcopal mission activists.

The Zoom gatherings are open to all interested persons, including all Episcopalians and Anglicans around the world.   The next three meetings will take place for an hour at 2 p.m. Eastern on Thursdays, Sept. 10, 17 and 24.  Each will begin with a short presentation, followed by group discussion.

• Sept. 10: “Forming Christians for Mission amid the Pandemic” with the Rev. Holly Hartman, team leader for GEMN’s Mission Formation Program and global mission coordinator for the Diocese of Massachusetts.  Host: the Rev. Dr. Titus Presler, GEMN president, global mission liaison for the Diocese of Vermont and board member of Bridges to Pakistan.

• Sept. 17: “How the Pandemic has Affected Episcopal Church Mission Personnel” with Ms. Elizabeth Boe, director of mission personnel for the Episcopal Church’s Office of Global Partnerships, who coordinates the Young Adult Service Corps and Episcopal Volunteers in Mission.  Host: Titus Presler.

• Sept. 24: “Building on Companions’ Talents during the Pandemic with Mr. Dale Stanton-Hoyle, executive director of Five Talents, an international development organization that helps families living in extreme poverty save, invest and develop small businesses. Host: Ms. Molly O’Brien, GEMN Board secretary and staff member of the Center for Anglican Communion Studies at Virginia Seminary.

Register for Mission Thursdays with GEMN HERE. Once you have registered, instructions with the login information for the Zoom webinar will be sent to the email address you provide upon registration. For questions, please email gemn@gemn.org.

The first gathering, last Thursday, Sept. 3, on “Building Mission Companionship amid the Pandemic” with Mr. Bill Kunkle, GEMN Board member and executive director of the Dominican Development Group, which coordinates links between domestic Episcopal dioceses and the Diocese of the Dominican Republic, and the Rev. Jeff Bower, chair of the Global Mission Commission of the Diocese of Indianapolis.  People from around the church and abroad participated in the conversation hosted by the Rev. Dr. Grace Burton-Edwards, GEMN vice president, member of the Global Mission Commission in the Diocese of Atlanta, and member of the Standing Commission on World Mission.

The Global Episcopal Mission Network is a freestanding network of dioceses, congregations, mission organizations, seminaries and individuals dedicated to inspiring and igniting the joy of God’s mission throughout the church.

 

How to explore global mission during the coronavirus pandemic is the focus of Mission Thursdays with GEMN, a series of four online gatherings in September for conversations with Episcopal mission activists convened by the Global Episcopal Mission Network (GEMN).

The Zoom gatherings are open to all interested persons, including all Episcopalians and Anglicans around the world.   The meetings will occur for an hour at 2 p.m. Eastern on Thursdays, Sept. 3, 10, 17 and 24.  Each will begin with a short presentation, followed by group discussion.

  • Sept. 3: “Building Mission Companionship amid the Pandemic” with Mr. Bill Kunkle, GEMN Board member and executive director of the Dominican Development Group, which coordinates links between domestic Episcopal dioceses and the Diocese of the Dominican Republic, and the Rev. Jeff Bower, chair of the Global Mission Commission of the Diocese of Indianapolis.  Host: the Rev. Dr. Grace Burton-Edwards, GEMN vice president, member of the Global Mission Commission in the Diocese of Atlanta, and member of the Standing Commission on World Mission.

 

  • Sept. 10: “Forming Christians for Mission amid the Pandemic” with the Rev. Holly Hartman, team leader for GEMN’s Mission Formation Program and global mission coordinator for the Diocese of Massachusetts.  Host: the Rev. Dr. Jim Boston, GEMN Board member and chair of the Global Mission Commission of the Diocese of Oregon.

 

  • Sept. 17: “How the Pandemic has Affected Episcopal Church Mission Personnel” with Ms. Elizabeth Boe, director of mission personnel for the Episcopal Church’s Office of Global Partnerships, who coordinates the Young Adult Service Corps and Episcopal Volunteers in Mission.  Host: the Rev. Dr. Titus Presler, GEMN president, global mission liaison for the Diocese of Vermont and board member of Bridges to Pakistan.

 

  • Sept. 24: “Building on Companions’ Talents during the Pandemic with Mr. Dale Stanton-Hoyle, executive director of Five Talents, an international development organization that helps families living in extreme poverty save, invest and develop small businesses. Host: Ms. Molly O’Brien, GEMN Board secretary and staff member of the Center for Anglican Communion Studies at Virginia Seminary.

Register for Mission Thursdays with GEMN HERE. Once you have registered, instructions with the login information for the Zoom webinar will be sent to the email address you provide upon registration. For questions, please email gemn@gemn.org

The Global Episcopal Mission Network is a freestanding network of dioceses, congregations, mission organizations, seminaries and individuals dedicated to inspiring and igniting the joy of God’s mission throughout the church.

 

 

Questing: The Way of Love in Global Mission has been published by the Global Episcopal Mission Network (GEMN) on Amazon for individuals and congregations exploring how to engage God’s mission on a global basis.

Questing builds on the seven steps in the well-known Way of Love of the Jesus Movement – Turn, Learn, Pray, Worship, Bless, Go, and Rest.  It develops how Christians can live out the Way of Love in mission companionships with people of faith across differences of culture, language, ethnicity and religion around the world.

Responding to the constraints imposed by the coronavirus pandemic, Questing sketches ways to engage in world mission both when mission companions are able to gather and when disease, war or civil unrest make in-person encounters difficult or impossible.

“Thankfully, mission is not dependent on physical travel,” said co-author Grace Burton-Edwards.  “Mission is primarily a spiritual journey that calls us to maintain an outward orientation toward neighbors near and far. The pandemic can lead us to focus inward. This resource is an invitation to turn our attention outward and share in God’s work of reconciliation and healing through the church around the world.”

Each session in the seven-week curriculum begins with a compelling story from Africa, Asia, the Caribbean or Latin America.  A Bible study delves into a narrative from the Book of Acts. Mission discussion, prayer suggestions, and avenues of action provide guidance for individuals and study groups seeking to apply their faith globally.

Published online through Amazon, Questing is available in Kindle formats for e-readers and smartphones at a low price of $5.69.  Paperback publication is planned for the fall.

Questing assembles resources from many sources: blogposts from missionaries, reflections by mission activists, perspectives from ecumenical sources, suggestions and prayers from around the Anglican Communion, and more.

Original material in Questing is co-authored by Burton-Edwards and Titus Presler.  Rector of St. Thomas Church in Columbus, Georgia, Burton-Edwards is GEMN’s vice president, a member of the Standing Commission on World Mission and a member of the Global Mission Commission of the Diocese of Atlanta.  A former missionary in Zimbabwe and Pakistan and a widely published missiologist, Presler is president of GEMN and former president of the Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, Texas.

The foreword is by Ian Douglas, bishop of the Diocese of Connecticut, a former missionary in Haiti, and a missiologist who long taught at the Episcopal Divinity School.

“People often sense God calling them to engage with the wider world but sometimes they don’t know where to begin,” Presler said.  “Questing will be a valuable and easily accessible resource for individuals, mission committees and congregations.”

This notice has appeared also as a press release on the Episcopal News Service.

Going online for the first time this spring because of the coronavirus pandemic drew a record enrollment to the Mission Formation Program offered by the Global Episcopal Mission Network (GEMN).

“Last year we were delighted to have 14 in the program held at the annual Global Mission Conference in the Dominican Republic,” said program coordinator the Rev. Holly Hartman of the Diocese of Massachusetts, “but this year we had 38 people enroll online, close to three times our highest in-person enrollment!”

Participants came from 19 domestic Episcopal dioceses, plus the dioceses of Dominican Republic, Haiti, Toronto and Dar es Salaam.  There were about equal numbers of men and women, and ages ranged from young adults to the 70s.  Eleven participants were clergy.  Seven participants were returning for the second year of the two-year program.

“We weren’t sure how the program would work online, but it came off well with very few technical glitches,” Hartman said.  Held April 27-May 1, the formation modules were offered in four two-hour segments on the Zoom platform over a week.  “The success of this format means that an online version will be important in the future of the Mission Formation Program,” Hartman said.

Modules offered this year included Biblical Foundations for Mission, Group Process for Mission Leadership, Missional Case Study, History of Anglican and Episcopal Mission, Cultural Sensitivity, Theology of Mission, Best Practices for Short-Term Mission Trips, Developing and Nourishing Mission Teams, Long-Term Mission Service, and Forming and Sustaining Diocesan Mission.

The program asks participants to carry out a fieldwork project between the first and second years.  At the close of the program on May 1, the second-year participants spoke about the projects they completed or had underway, which included: an assessment of mission work in Haiti, a mission conference held in Ohio, a photo essay on mission work in diverse parts of the world, a mission education venture for a parish, and revision of a diocesan mission grants program.

In addition to Hartman, who is global mission coordinator for the Diocese of Massachusetts, the Mission Formation leadership team included Martha Alexander, Ed.D., long active in the global outreach of the Diocese of North Carolina; the Rev. Jean Beniste, former missionary from Haiti to Dominican Republic and now rector of Christ Church, Waukegan, Illinois; the Rev. Jeffrey Bower, chair of the global mission commission in the Diocese of Indianapolis and associate rector of St. Paul’s Church, Indianapolis; and the Rev. Titus Presler, Th.D., missiologist, president of GEMN and former missionary in Zimbabwe and Pakistan.

“As in many sectors of church life, moving this program online has implications for the future work of GEMN, especially as so much education has gone online in the 21st century,” Presler said.  “It’s helpful to meet in person, but the online reach of this year’s program prompts us to move more decisively toward making online encounter a major part of our work.”

The pandemic prompted cancellation of this year’s Global Mission Conference in Indianapolis, where it was to focus on the role of creation care in global mission.  GEMN plans the same theme and location in the spring of 2021, though definite arrangements await the outcome of the pandemic.

Founded in 1994, GEMN is the church’s freestanding network of mission-activist dioceses, organizations, congregations, seminaries and individuals dedicated to “proclaim, inspire and ignite the joy of God’s mission.”

 

 

This is one in a series of posts about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on global mission. 

‘All of our people are safe and well,’ said Mission Personnel Officer Elizabeth Boe in an April 23 interview about the situation of international missionaries of the Episcopal Church amid the coronavirus pandemic.  ‘Some are home, and many are still in place.’

‘We’d been following this for quite awhile before the State Department released its Level 4 Global Health Alert,’ Boe said.  The March 31 alert read: ‘The Department of State advises U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19.  In countries where commercial departure options remain available, U.S. citizens who live in the United States should arrange for immediate return to the United States, unless they are prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period.’

‘After the alert we gave people the option of coming home to the United States, or to their country of origin,’ Boe said, explaining that some Episcopal missionaries are from other countries.  ‘Most people did not want to come home, and the majority of our people are still out there.  We told them it was better to shelter in place rather than to travel.

‘We still have 18 people out,’ Boe continued.  ‘Some couldn’t come home because borders were closed quickly, especially in Central America.  I myself was supposed to visit some missionaries in Central America but then decided it wasn’t viable.  I could have gotten into El Salvador, but six hours after I would have arrived travel was banned.  I was supposed to go on to Guatemala and Honduras, but they quickly closed their borders.  We still have people in those three countries.  At this point the borders and airports are still closed.’

‘People who came home decided there was little they could do where they were.  For instance, schools had closed down,’ Boe said.  ‘Everything depends on the context.’

There are currently 33 people on the missionary roster, Boe said; nine are with the Young Adult Service Corps (YASC), and 24 are Episcopal Volunteers in Mission (EVIM).  The 18 still abroad include five in YASC, and they are serving in Bahrain, El Salvador, England, Germany, Guatemala, Honduras, Jerusalem, Oman, Qatar, South Africa, Spain, United Arab Republic, Dominican Republic and Tanzania.

Missionary blogs offer direct access to the reflections of those serving abroad.  Recent examples include Emma Wright’s blog from Oman and the blog of Joe Pagano and Amy Richter in South Africa.

‘International mission service helps prepare people for this type of situation,’ Boe said, explaining that going abroad in mission is inherently isolating.  ‘Resilience-wise, they are well prepared and doing well.’  In their places of service missionaries are adopting new ways of carrying out their ministry, much as Episcopalians in the USA are.  For instance, the three clergy serving in the Persian Gulf region are holding worship via the Zoom online platform.

Boe is keeping in touch with the missionaries through Zoom meetings.  At one recent meeting, the Order of the Holy Cross member who had been chaplain to missionaries during their orientation held at the order’s monastery in West Park, N.Y., joined in the conversation, and the missionaries were delighted to be reconnected with him.

‘This pandemic is showing us that we are truly interconnected globally, whether our daily lives show that or not,’ Boe reflected.  ‘The global Anglican Communion matters.  There are beautiful stories of communion happening in many different ways.  We need each other. This situation is showing that to all of us in a new and dramatic way.’

However, the pandemic has also curtailed plans to send new missionaries.  ‘We had to make the sad but responsible decision not to hold a mission orientation in June, so there will be no new appointments this year,’ Boe said.  ‘We’re sad about this, but from a safety standpoint we wouldn’t be able to do the orientation.  We couldn’t be sure that the pandemic would be controlled enough to send people around the world.  We have a duty of care for our missionaries and also for our Anglican Communion partners who welcome people into their communities.’

Boe wrote several weeks ago to the missionaries who were in the pipeline for the orientation.  ‘That was one of the sadder emails that I’ve had to write.  We were looking forward to seeing them again in June.  It was hard to write an email that I knew would take what is already a challenging and confusing time and add more chaos to it.  I told them we would happily hold a spot for them next year if that’s what they want, and a few of them have taken us up on that.  In the fall we’ll reach out to them again.’

Eight of the missionaries who came home would like to go back, Boe said.  ‘That could happen when it’s safe and our partners and we agree that it’s possible for them to return.’  Three of the YASC missionaries would like to do a second year beyond the standard one-year term of service.

‘How do we incorporate what we’re learning now into how we recruit, train and support people?’ Boe asked as she considered the future.  ‘People see that their stories matter, even in the midst of what seems ordinary.  Sometimes asking people how they’re doing is the best gift we can give, whether in a pandemic or not.  People who are already away from home and experiencing isolation appreciate that people are thinking of them and praying for them.

Elizabeth Boe served in Tanzania with the Young Adult Service Corps from 2008 to 2010.  She joined the staff of the Episcopal Church’s Office of Global Partnerships in 2011 and has been Mission Personnel Officer since 2017.

The Office of Global Partnerships is a member agency of the Global Episcopal Mission Network, which convenes mission-activist dioceses, congregations, organizations, seminaries and individuals to catalyze global mission throughout the church.

 

 

This post is one in a series exploring the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on global mission. 

‘Every team scheduled from March through June has canceled,’ said Bill Kunkle, executive director of the Dominican Development Group (DGG), last week about US-based mission teams that changed their plans to visit the Dominican Republic in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Seven teams canceled their travel plans, Kunkle said, five postponed, and about half a dozen teams have not yet made decisions because their trips were planned for later in the summer.  What he calls ‘virtual mission teams’ are one avenue for continuing the outreach despite stay-at-home orders and travel restrictions.

Bill Kunkle at work in Dominican Republic.

The shift in DGG’s work, which coordinates the ecclesial, educational and medical mission outreach of eleven Episcopal dioceses in companionship with the Episcopal Diocese of the Dominican Republic, is a vivid example of how the global pandemic is affecting the global mission work of churches.

‘It’s a lot, it’s a real challenge,’ Kunkle said.  ‘From an organizational standpoint we’re safe financially because we’re supported by the dioceses.  But for God’s work in communities in the Dominican Republic it’s a challenge for how we can maintain the programs underway in the communities.’

DGG is working on a ‘mission from afar’ program, Kunkle said, where participants still minister as a team but don’t travel to the DR.  In addition to raising funds for ministry in the DR, virtual mission teams conduct the planned morning and evening devotions during the week they would have been in the DR.  They will be trying to have conversations with their Dominican companions via online platforms, though that is difficult due to lack of equipment in churches and schools, spotty cellular service and weak wifi connections in the DR.

‘The situation seems bad and negative in a lot of ways,’ Kunkle said, ‘but one of the positives is that it will connect this country and their country through electronic community.’

Not only has community development work been held back by the pandemic, but many individuals have been affected through decreased funds available for scholarships.  The finances of Dominican congregations have been affected negatively by restrictions on gathering for worship because many parishioners there make offerings only in cash and do not have checking accounts.

“There’s going to be a lot of things that change in mission work,’ Kunkle said as he pondered the future of mission after the pandemic.  ‘Things are going to be different in our country and in the DR.  A lot of good may come out of this.  Maybe we don’t need to meet in person as much.  But it does take out some of the relational side of mission.  It does harm that because it’s important to meet face to face.’

With his reduced travel schedule, Kunkle is now getting back to work on a handbook for mission teams that he began drafting five years ago.  The handbook will include resources for planning, scheduling, logistics and cultural sensitivity for both sides of the mission encounter.

The Dominican Development Group is based in Tampa, Florida.  An Episcopal Volunteer in Mission, Bill Kunkle has served as executive director since 2013.  DGG’s work is overseen by a 21-member Board of Directors chaired by the Rev. Jason Roberson of the Diocese of Virginia.

The Diocese of the Dominican Republic has companion relationships with the dioceses of Central Gulf Coast, Eastern Michigan, Georgia, Michigan, Nebraska, Northwest Texas, South Carolina, Southeast Florida, Southwest Florida, Western Louisiana, and Western Michigan. DDG serves as a clearinghouse for maintaining these relationships.

DGG is a member organization of the Global Episcopal Mission Network, which convenes mission-activist dioceses, congregations, organizations, seminaries and individuals to catalyze global mission throughout the church.

The annual Mission Formation Program for global mission activists and advocates will be held in four online sessions from April 27 to May 1 this year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the Global Episcopal Mission Network (GEMN) has announced.

“Offering this vital program online both responds to the constraints of the Covid-19 situation and enables people from all over the Episcopal Church and the world to participate,” said the Rev. Holly Hartman, who coordinates the program on behalf of GEMN.  “We’re looking forward to a stimulating time with people passionate to be more involved in God’s global mission.”

Registration for the program is accessible here.   The program dates and times via the Zoom platform are: Monday, April 27, 7-9 p.m.; Tuesday, April 28, 10 a.m.-12 noon; Wednesday, April 29; 12 noon-2pm; and Friday, May 1, 7-9 p.m.  These have been arranged at a variety of times in order to accommodate diverse schedules and individual learning styles – some people learn best in the morning, others in the evening, and so on.

Held by GEMN for over 20 years, the Mission Formation Program gives people involved in parish and diocesan global mission initiatives the opportunity to explore biblical foundations, mission theology and history, cultural and inter-religious sensitivity, discernment, short-term and longterm mission standards, companionship in mission, mission team and project development, leadership styles and group process.

Ordinarily offered in conjunction with the annual Global Mission Conference, which was canceled this year due to the pandemic, the Mission Formation Program is a two-year process in which participants carry out a project between the first and second years.  A number of participants are returning from 2019, and registration is open for new first-year participants.

Led by Holly Hartman, global mission coordinator in the Diocese of Massachusetts, the Mission Formation Team that will conduct the 2020 program includes Dr. Martha Alexander, long active in the global outreach of the Diocese of North Carolina; the Rev. Jean Beniste, former missionary from Haiti to Dominican Republic and now rector of Christ Church, Waukegan, Illinois; the Rev. Jeffrey Bower, chair of the global mission commission in the Diocese of Indianapolis and associate rector of St. Paul’s Church, Indianapolis; the Rev. Maurice Dyer, associate rector at St. David’s Church, Radner, Penn.; and the Rev. Titus Presler, Th.D., missiologist, president of GEMN and former missionary in Zimbabwe and Pakistan.

Founded in 1994, GEMN is the church’s freestanding network of mission-activist dioceses, mission organizations, congregations, seminaries and individuals dedicated to “proclaim, inspire and ignite the joy of God’s mission.”

 

 

The annual Global Mission Conference organized by the Global Episcopal Mission Network (GEMN) has had to be canceled on account of the coronavirus pandemic, to the great regret of all of us on the Board of Directors, of which I am the president.  This news is over a month old now, but it’s nevertheless appropriate to post it here.

Our plan is to convene in 2021 around the same time of year, preferably in April, if the pandemic has faded enough to permit that, and again the Indianapolis area.  We will have the same timely theme: Earthkeeping: Creation Care in Global Mission, with, we hope, the same plenary speakers, who include Katharine Jefferts Schori, Orlando Gomes, Rachel Mash and Leon Sampson.  You can go to the GEMN website to read more about the projected keynoters and workshop presentations.

Unlike the scholarly conferences whose cancellations I’ve posted, the Global Mission Conference is a gathering for mission activists from dioceses, congregations, mission organizations and seminaries, in addition to a number individuals from around the Episcopal Church.  Please stay tuned for our plans for 2021.

We canceled early on as it was becoming clear that holding the conference would not be viable.  Here is the announcement that I sent out and that was posted on the GEMN website:

Cancellation of 2020 Conference

Dear Global Mission Community,

In view of the national and international coronavirus situation, the Board of Directors of the Global Episcopal Mission Network has decided to cancel the 2020 Global Mission Conference that was to be held at Christ Church Cathedral in Indianapolis, April 29-May 1.

We have made this decision with great regret, but we feel that canceling is appropriate in view of the widespread concern about the virus and the difficulty of predicting the course of transmission over the coming months.

People have legitimate concerns about participating in gatherings that bring together people from all parts of the country, some of which have recorded infections. We believe it is both caring and prudent to cancel the conference at this time.

GEMN is contacting those who registered for the conference about registration refunds. The Board is exploring remote electronic possibilities for the Mission Formation Program and the Diocesan Networks Gathering that were to be held in conjunction with the conference.

This is the first time that GEMN has canceled the annual Global Mission Conference in the 25-year history of the network. The urgency of this year’s theme, Earthkeeping: Creation Care in Global Mission, intensifies our regret in this cancellation. We encourage all in the global mission community to consider how to integrate creation care in their global mission work amid the planetary environmental crisis. Resources will be provided on the GEMN website.

We will inform you as soon as possible about plans for the 2021 Global Mission Conference.

As you know, the conference often generates new memberships for GEMN. These memberships enable GEMN to proclaim and ignite the good news of God’s mission throughout the year. We count on your support. If you have not already joined GEMN for 2020, please do so now.

In the missional Christ,

The Rev. Canon Dr. Titus Presler
President

The coronavirus pandemic has prompted the American Society of Missiology (ASM) to postpone its annual conference until 2021.  ASM brings together Anglican, Evangelical, Orthodox, Protestant and Roman Catholic mission scholars from the USA and Canada, and often there are a number of scholars from other countries as well.  It is probably the strongest regional body of mission scholars in the world, last year convening about 250 participants.

I look forward to the conference annually and have had the privilege of presenting papers there for a number of years.  The conference was long held at the monastery of the Society of the Divine Word in Chicago, then at Wheaton College, and now at St. Mary’s College adjacent to the University of Notre Dame in South Bend.

Here is the announcement made quite recently, later than many other such announcements:

AMERICAN SOCIETY OF MISSIOLOGY

2020 ANNUAL MEETING

The annual meeting of the ASM, along with the associated meetings of the APM and AETE, will not be held this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Instead, these meetings have been postponed until June of 2021 (June 17 – 20).  This regretful decision was reached by the leadership of the ASM, APM and AETE after careful deliberation and close consultation with our hosts, Saint Mary’s College in South Bend, Indiana.  The themes and programs for the 2021 meetings will be, as much as possible, the same as those which had been scheduled for 2020.  Because elections of officers take place during the annual meeting, the officers of the ASM will continue in their current position for an extra year.  Those of you who have made travel arrangements to South Bend for this year’s annual meeting are asked to rebook or cancel those arrangements.  Those who registered for the annual meeting(s) will be sent specific instructions regarding your registration.  All who wish to cancel their registration will receive 100% of their payment.  There will also be an option to apply this year’s registration to next year’s meeting at no extra cost.  If you have any questions, please direct them to Alison Fitchett Climenhaga at asmissiologyconference@gmail.com.

Sincerely, Arun W. Jones, President, American Society of Missiology.

Connect with ASM on Facebook.

The coronavirus pandemic is having an immediate effect on international cross-cultural mission work and also on gatherings of mission scholars, as the missive below, received on March 25, from the International Association of Mission Studies (IAMS) makes clear.

As President Paul Kollman notes in his closing paragraph, the pandemic demonstrates the timeliness of the conference theme: ‘Powers, Inequalities, and Vulnerabilities: Mission in a Wounded World.’

IAMS is the most broad-based association of mission scholars, for it is truly international in scope with scholars from Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, North America and Oceania.  It meets only once every four years, so the postponement of this year’s conference is especially disappointing. It is also very ecumenical, including Anglicans, Orthodox, Roman Catholics and Protestants.

I first attended an IAMS conference in Harare in the mid-1980s.  I most recently attended the 2016 conference, which was held in Seoul, South Korea, and presented a couple of papers there.

Dear TITUS PRESLER

It is with a heavy heart that I announce the postponement of our 15th Assembly, which was to have taken place this July in Sydney. I do so on behalf of the entire IAMS Executive Committee and our local partners at the Australian Association for Mission Studies (AAMS).

This has been predictable, of course, given the global news of the expansion of COVID-19 and the threat to welfare that it represents. Recent restrictions on international travel make any consideration of moving ahead with the Assembly as planned impossible. Australia’s current restrictions, which may or may not be extended to July, are as follows:

    • the government has banned all non-citizens and non-residents from arriving in Australia;
    • the government restricts all gatherings to no more than fifty persons; and
    • Australia (and most other governments) have in place and likely will continue to require a fourteen-day self-quarantine, which would doubly impact travelers upon arrival and return.

Unavoidable as this postponement is, I regret that our meeting – which ordinarily takes place only every four years – will be delayed. We could have all benefited from the quadrennial days of fellowship, intellectual stimulation, and professional encouragement that previous meetings have represented!

We do not yet have dates or details for the eventual Assembly, and are working on that now. We are looking tentatively at July 2021, in the same venue. In addition, we are considering what to do about registration payments already made. We are also looking at the IAMS Constitution closely to determine our next steps. As soon as we have come to these and related determinations, we will be in touch with you. We will also seek to keep you up-to-date about our ongoing conversations with our local partners in Australia at AAMS, especially local chair Darrell Jackson; our local travel coordination company Christian Fellowship Tours; and Morling College in Sydney. I want to thank them, and many others, for all the work done so far to prepare for what will be-regardless of when it happens-an inspiring IAMS Assembly. In particular, a heartfelt thanks goes also to all of you who have already contributed to our future Assembly by setting aside time and energy in myriad ways. It suffices only to know that more than 200 paper proposals were made in study groups, and 80 proposals offered in thematic panels.

I am struck these days by the timeliness of our Assembly theme, “Powers, Inequalities, and Vulnerabilities: Mission in a Wounded World.” Little in my experience has shown the clarity of the wounded context in which Christian mission takes place, with its attendant shared vulnerability and inequalities of resources and opportunity, than the current crisis.

Know of our prayers for you, your loved ones, and all of our partner organizations in this difficult time.

Sincerely,

Paul Kollman
IAMS President

The ‘Earthkeeping: Creation Care in Global Mission’ conference at Christ Church Cathedral in Indianapolis, April 29-May 1, has a terrific set of plenary speakers in Katharine Jefferts-Schori, Leon Sampson, Rachel Mash and Orlando Gomez.

But equally compelling are the workshops, which bring outstanding creation care leaders to share theological insights about creation care and their practical experience in addressing the planetary crisis of our time during this annual conference organized by the Global Episcopal Mission Network (GEMN).  Register for the conference here.

I’m so enthusiastic about the slate of workshops that we’ve been able to assemble that I’m including the current list from the GEMN website (I say current list because more workshops are in process).

EARTH CARE, SOUL CARE: GROWING IN SPIRITUAL RESILIENCE
The Rev. Dr. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas, Missioner for Creation Care, Diocese of Western Massachusetts

As we face the cascading losses of species extinction and a rapidly changing climate, what do we do with our grief, fear, and outrage?  Where do we find hope as we struggle to protect God’s Creation?  What spiritual perspectives and practices can help us to move past burnout and despair and into the joy of resurrected living?  How can protecting Earth become a mission that nourishes rather than depletes our souls?   This workshop will explore a theological framework for “holding” our concern for Earth, its creatures and people.  Our time together will include presentations, guided meditation, and small- and large-group conversation.

The Rev. Dr. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas is Missioner for Creation Care in the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts and the Southern New England Conference of the United Church of Christ.  An Episcopal priest, author, and climate activist, she has been a lead organizer of  Christian and interfaith events about care for Earth, and she leads retreats in the U.S.A. and Canada on spiritual resilience and resistance in the midst of a climate emergency. Her new book, Rooted and Rising: Voices of Courage in a Time of Climate Crisis (2019), is an anthology of essays co-edited with the Rev. Dr. Leah Schade. She has been arrested in Washington, D.C., and elsewhere to protest expanded use of fossil fuels.  In 2016 she received the Steward of God’s Creation award from the National Religious Coalition on Creation Care. She served as Chaplain to the House of Bishops, and at Episcopal Divinity School (then in Cambridge, Mass.) she taught courses on prayer and spirituality, addiction, and the environment.  She is a graduate of Stanford (BA, Russian Literature), Harvard (PhD., Comparative Literature), and Episcopal Divinity School (M.Div.). Her website, www.RevivingCreation.org, includes blog posts, sermons, and articles.

GROWING COMMON GROUND
The Rev. Christopher Beasley and Mr. Chuck Dailey, Diocese of Indianapolis
In this workshop participants will learn how this congregation of 30 people and a bi-vocational rector stepped out into their community and built a network of relationships that now spans three counties in central Indiana. St. Peter’s Garden’s and Apiary was started in 2015 to connect our existing share gardens to our new apiary that teaches youth and adults in Boone County about our food systems’ dependence on bees. Utilizing eight acres of land where we have raised-bed gardens and long-row gardens, we give our produce freely on-site and to local food pantries and meal-serving locations in Boone County. In 2018, we produced nearly 1,500 pounds of food on ½ acre for distribution at the St. Joseph Catholic Church Food Pantry. Our teaching apiary brings over 200 kids each summer through our bee corrals. The Harvest House Community Center features an instructional kitchen that teaches others how to prepare and preserve food and how to freeze dry fruits and vegetables for later use.

The Rev. Christopher Beasley serves as Rector of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Lebanon, Indiana (twenty miles northwest of downtown Indianapolis). He is a 2014 graduate of Bexley Seabury Seminary. 

Mr. Chuck Dailey serves as Senior Beekeeper and Gardener at St. Peter’s with his wife Sandy. He is on the Board of the Beekeepers of Indiana and serves as the Education Chair for Indiana. He gives nearly 30 talks a year to schools, bee clubs, and other gardening groups around the state.

 

REPAIRING THE EARTH THROUGH A CARBON-OFFSET PARTNERSHIP

The Rev. Jeffrey Gill, Rector, Trinity Parish, Seattle, Washington

In 2012 the bishops of the Dioceses of Olympia and the Southern Philippines discovered they had a common interest in the stewardship of creation and decided to enter into a Covenant establishing the Carbon Offset Cooperative Mission. Carbon offsets from the Diocese of Olympia have funded a tree nursery and reforestation projects throughout the Diocese of the Southern Philippines.  The nursery not only is helping with carbon sequestration but is also creating jobs and income. Rubber trees, mahogany, coffee and other tropical varieties are being grown. In the Diocese of Olympia funds are raised through offsets for diocesan travel, and parishes participate through paying offsets on their carbon footprint. Since 2012 over 75,000 trees have been planted by churches in the Southern Philippines. In this workshop Jeff Gill will describe the Carbon Offset Cooperative Mission in detail through pictures and stories from his recent trip to the Philippines.

The Rev. Jeffrey Gill is the Rector of Trinity Parish in downtown Seattle, Washington.  He was ordained in the Diocese of Massachusetts and served parishes there for over 25 years.  He also chaired the Diocesan Commission on Wider Mission for many years.  Jeff is a native of Indiana, a graduate of Indiana University (East Asian Languages and Cultures and Religious Studies) and Harvard Divinity School.  He has been engaged in global mission throughout his life in a variety of ways in Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Europe.  He is currently the Chair of the Global Mission Network of the Diocese of Olympia and a member of the Bishop’s Committee on the Environment, which has enabled him to be engaged in the Carbon Offset Cooperative Mission with the Episcopal Diocese of the Southern Philippines.  Jeff and his wife Carolyn love traveling the world and experiencing the beauty and diversity of peoples and cultures, which they intend to do more of after his retirement next August.

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