Posted by: Titus Presler | November 5, 2009

Episcopal Partnership for Global Mission steering committee considers networking future

The future of networking among Episcopal mission organizations was center stage in the Oct. 25-28 meeting of the steering committee of the Episcopal Partnership for Global Mission (EPGM), a network of about 27 congregations, independent agencies, dioceses, and Episcopal Church Center units.

Meeting at St. Matthew’s Church, Evanston, Illinois, the group found ground for encouragement in the quality of the annual conference it held last May with the Global Episcopal Mission Network (GEMN) in Burlingame, California, interest expressed by many at General Convention in July, and responses to EPGM’s new interactive website, www.epgm.org.

Planning proceeded for the 2010 annual conference and membership meeting, again to be held together with GEMN, on the theme of mission education, to be convened at Virginia Seminary in Alexandria, June 9-12, 2010.  Continuing collaboration with GEMN forms the background of conversations going forward about other ways in which the two networks can more closely combine and integrate their visions and activities to stimulate the Episcopal Church’s faithfulness to God’s mission.

There was also conversation about the next “Everyone Everywhere” conference to be held in 2011, three years after the first was held in Baltimore in June 2008 with extensive collaboration among EPGM, the Episcopal Church Center, and GEMN.  Very successful as the first centrist Episcopal Church mission conference in many years, it is now planned to be a triennial event that will meet during the year prior to the year of General Convention.

(The other triennial mission conference associated with the recent mission history of the Episcopal Church, New Wineskins for Global Mission, the first of which was held in 1994, now draws groups and individuals that consider themselves in tension with the church at large on account of the sexuality controversy and other issues.  Beginning in 2004, many of these groups felt they could no longer collaborate with more centrist organizations and formed their own network, Anglican Global Mission Partners under the auspices of the American Anglican Council.)

The membership of the steering committee represents the breadth of EPGM: the Rev. Kitty Babson, Christ-Myitta Myanmar-Burma, convener; the Rev. Canon Jane Butterfield, Diocese of New York, co-convener; Mr. Don Engstrom, Diocese of Western Massachusetts, secretary; Mr. Bruce Rockwell, treasurer; Ms. Connie Wilson, Diocese of Chicago, administrator; Ms. Elisabeth Beach Hacking, Partnerships Unit, Episcopal Church Center; Mr. Jim Cooper, African Palms; Ms. Sandi McPhee, Kiyosato Educational Experiment Project; Mr. Robert Stevens, Dominican Development Group; and the Rev. Canon Dr. Titus Presler, formerly of the Seminary Consultation on Mission, now a coopted member.

It was a particular joy for me to stimulate the mutual introduction of the group with the Rev. Richard Frontjes, a former student of mine from the Episcopal Seminary of the Southwest, who is now undertaking a doctorate in missiology at Lutheran Theological Seminary in Chicago. Richard, age 36, is a missiologist in the making who has great promise of contributing substantially to the mission of the church.  His interests include gospel and culture, and the history and ongoing life of Anglicanism in Mexico.  During his seminary studies, he and his wife Stacey, now also a priest, visited Uganda, where they connected with the Diocese of Kinkiizi, companion to their own Diocese of Eastern Michigan.  Before moving to Chicago they each pastored congregations in Eastern Michigan, and they are each now working in Chicago parishes.

EPGM came into being in 2000 as an expansion of the Episcopal Council for Global Mission, which was established in 1990 to bring diverse mission groups together for consultation and mutual support.  GEMN was established in 1994 as a network of Episcopal dioceses.

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