The urgency and shape of Christian mission amid the world’s mounting crisis of people fleeing difficult or intolerable conditions in their home countries is the theme of this year’s global mission conference organized by the Global Episcopal Mission Network (GEMN), the freestanding network of Episcopal dioceses, congregations, organizations and individuals committed to advocating for God’s mission on a worldwide scale.
This year’s conference, May 18-20, is hosted by the Diocese of Puerto Rico and is being held in Poncé on the south coast of the Caribbean island on the premises of Universidad Interamericana de Poncé. The theme is “God’s Mission with a World in Continuous Motion” or “La Mision de Dios con un Mundo en Continuo Movimiento.
Presiding Bishop Michael Curry is tomorrow morning’s keynote speaker to the record registration of about 120, plus many local Episcopalians, other Christians and civic leaders. Following the keynote, participants will gather in small groups to generate questions that will be posed to Bp. Curry in the afternoon.
On Thursday a plenary address will be offered by the staff of Episcopal Migration Ministries, the longstanding churchwide agency that has been instrumental in resettling thousands of individuals and families in the USA over many years.
The final plenary on Friday will feature a panel discussion moderated by Puerto Rico’s Interim Bishop Wilfrido Ramos and including Bp. Julio Holguin of Dominican Republic, Bp. Francisco Duque of Colombia, Mr. Noah Bullock of Christosol, and a representative of the Diocese of Cuba.
A number of the 14 workshops will focus on mission amid migration:
- Gifts for Welcome: Discerning how your Congregation can Participate in Refugee Resettlement, by Episcopal Migration Ministries staff.
- The Jesus Movement in a Time of Migration, by Michael Hunn, Canon to the Presiding Bishop for Ministry within the Episcopal Church.
- The Role of the Church in a Refugee’s Life and Reconciliation in the Rwandan Crisis, by Jean-Baptiste and Christine Ntagengwa, who fled Rwanda and now minister in the Diocese of Massachusetts.
- Refugees of Central America: New Models for Response, by Noah Bullock, Executive Director of Foundation Christosol.
- Seafarers: Hidden Migrants, Hidden Souls, by Ken Hawkins of the Seattle Seafarers Center and Regional Director of the Mission to Seafarers for the USA.
- Displaced Persons/Displaced Assets, by Sean McConnell, Director of Engagement for Episcopal Relief and Development.
Refugee and migration issues are complex, whether in the Americas, Africa, Europe, the Middle East, or South Asia, where, for instance, refugee issues have roiled relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan since the 1980s.
It is salutary that GEMN as a network of global mission activists has highlighted the urgencies of the situation and that Bp. Curry, who has electrified the church with his passion for evangelism and mission, has come to Poncé to address migration as a missional issue.