Sunday, August 20, 2006

PGF considers challenges of Western mission efforts, next steps for organization

PGF considers challenges of Western mission efforts, next steps for organization:
Presbyterian Outlook, free registration

Leslie Scanlon, Outlook national reporter
"ATLANTA – They’re good-hearted Presbyterians – serious about their faith, people who want to show God’s love to a suffering world. But it’s not as easy as just getting on a plane with a suitcase and a pocket stuffed with dollars.

In a religiously diverse world, in which Americans often enjoy prosperity and peace which others do not share, working in partnership with others can be a complicated thing. And those at the Presbyterian Global Fellowship meeting August 17-19 – a mostly white, evangelical crowd – were challenged to temper their energy for mission with some hard thinking about realities that are not always comfortable to face.

Lucas de Paiva Pina, a Brazilian who is working with immigrant fellowships in Georgia, looked out across the room and said: “We need to put more color here – yellow, black, red, all of them.”

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has pledged to become 20 percent people of color by 2010, but still is more than 92 percent white.

Americans who want to work with the global church need “to change the attitude of we-and-they,” Pina said. “We need to understand that in Christ, we are brothers and sisters. We are a family with different languages, different colors, different cultures, but we are from the same family, saved by the same Savior.”
There seems to have been a lot of frank talk at the recent meeting of the Presbyterian Global Fellowship. While this new organization is shaping up to be a strong advocate for mission in the world, it is not necessarily of the opinion that all is well with how we have historically carried out mission. I can't say I am 100% in agreement with everything I have read about the proceedings (especially Roberta Hestenes' comments on mission trips), I cannot fault the introspection that is going on here. It is healthy, and is directed toward moving forward. And Hestenes' comments are worth considering in that they urge us not to forget long-term missionaries in our zeal to organize short-term mission trips.

The Presbyterian Global Fellowship, according to its FAQ, is not trying to drive a wedge between Presbyterians, nor is it trying to erect a new government within the PC(USA) -- rather it is attempting to move forward -- away -- from the sexuality issues that are preventing us from being the Church.

With all the talk of schism being fed by internal and external influences, this represents a breath of fresh air for those who love our denomination and want to see its mission go forward.

The following web sites have good coverage:

Presbyterian Global Fellowship
Presbyweb (a 30 day trial period is available)
The Presbyterian Outlook (free registration required to read the full articles)
Russell Smith -- The Eagle and Child
Larry Wood -- A PCUSA Pastor's Blog
Ed Brenigar -- The Presbyterian Polis

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Quotidian Grace said...

Thanks for the great links, Denis! This does sound encouraging.

Denis Hancock said...

I hope that people like this are heard in the debate. There seems to be one faction in the PC(USA) which has no intention in trying to work within the polity of the PC(USA), and is trying to take as many people as they can with them.

If reasonable voices are not heard, then the winner will get the rubble of a once great denomination.

Thanks for your comments and I wish you well in your service in your presbytery.

Russell Smith said...

Thanks for the links -- and the good words about PGF. I really see this as a way for Evangelicals to move forward and be about the business of the church -- I told my congregation that I've been more encouraged now than I've ever been before.

Now, as Joan Grey tells us -- we need to lead from our knees.


Denis Hancock said...

Thanks, Russell -- Your reports have been quite interesting and moving. Mission is far too important to be sidetracked by the other stuff going on, and I'm glad that PGF and other mission-oriented agencies are keeping the focus where it should be.

Joan Gray does have a way with words, doesn't she? I wonder if she would consider blogging?