Posted by: Titus Presler | October 27, 2010

Harvard graduate students explore mission in Ecuador

I was heartened during a preaching visit to Harvard’s Memorial Church last Sunday to find that last January a group of ten graduate students associated with Memorial Church had spent a week in Ecuador on a travel seminar, “Re-Thinking Mission, Sustainability and Globalization in Latin America.”  You can read McDonald Fellow Robert Mark’s reflection on the experience in the spring 2010 issue of Memorial Church’s publication “The Sounding Board.”

A few observations about the event as described:

• This trip was a first, that is, the first international travel seminar organized from Memorial Church, the religious center at the heart of the university.  May there be many more!

• The linking of the themes of mission, sustainability and globalization was good in bringing together issues much on the minds of many today, especially of younger generations: passion to reach out to the world to make a difference, concern for the physical environment and our use of resources, and concern for economic justice in an increasingly globalized world.

• Leadership for the venture was worked out very well.  Two of those involved I know: Willis Jenkins of Yale was a Young Adult Service Corps volunteer in the Episcopal Church who served in Uganda, and later he collaborated with me and others of the Standing Commission on World Mission in the Episcopal Church’s 2003 world mission vision statement, Companions in Transformation.  Christopher Morck was a parishioner of St. James in Cambridge, but then went to Ecuador with YASC, staying on with his family in an extended missionary appointment.  Recently he was ordained a priest of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Ecuador.

• Companionship and solidarity as the keynotes of their mode of mission, or their relational orientation, in mission were just right, echoing the fact that these two themes are paramount in many ecumenical discussions of how to approach mission today.

• The travel seminar had intensive followup, often a weakness after short-term pilgrimages to other parts of the world.  Upon their return, travel participants and others embarked on “Mission Part II: How then shall we live?”  An excellent strategy.  Evidently they also planned to end the term with a trip to West Virginia to take part in “an eco-stewardship-mission experience” called “Tending the Garden: A Faith Response to Protecting and Restoring Mountains, Communities and Relationships.”

All this is very good news.

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