A renewed movement of advocates for international mission at the synod and presbytery levels was launched here May 8–10.
A total of 48 participants representing 42 presbyteries and one synod attended the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A)’s World Mission Advocates Gathering. They agreed on the need for presbyteries and synods to name a world mission advocate and pledged to encourage all middle governing bodies to participate.
World mission advocates will promote the ministries of PC(USA) mission personnel and global partners and will also help resource congregations and middle governing bodies directly involved in mission.
Sue Waechter of Lake Huron Presbytery said in an interview that the concept “makes a lot of sense.”
“I see the role as one of liaison between the national church and local churches related to PC(USA) mission,” she said. “It involves information sharing and engagement.”
She said the gathering taught her about PC(USA) mission history and the denomination’s current mission practices. “I learned a lot about the scope of PC(USA) mission,” she said. “I didn’t know much about it before I went.”
World Mission Advocates bears similarity to a PC(USA) program called Global Mission Advocates, which had diminished in recent years. PC(USA) World Mission leaders decided last year to encourage the naming of presbytery and synod mission advocates and asked staff from Equipping the Church for Mission Involvement, World Mission’s newest work area, to plan the gathering.
Lis Valle, associate director for Equipping the Church for Mission Involvement, said that advocates will be especially helpful in efforts to assist congregations and others involved directly in mission. “I think we gained a lot of friends and support in what we are doing here,” she said. “They will equip the church for mission in congregations.”
Valle noted that the 48 attendees exceeded the organizers' goal of 40 participants. She said the event was “very exciting and packed with learning experiences.”
The Rev. Homer T. Cornish of Shenandoah Presbytery said he enjoyed a presentation on missional presbyteries led by the Rev. Betty Meadows, general presbyter of Mid-Kentucky Presbytery, and the Rev. David Dawson, executive presbyter of Shenango Presbytery.
He said he intends to share information he learned with a committee in his presbytery planning a transition to a new executive presbyter. Cornish said being a missional presbytery or congregation “means going out in the world where God is doing things."
Cornish told conference attendees about his presbytery’s efforts to encourage congregations to contribute $2 per member to support the General Assembly Council’s efforts to increase the number of mission personnel.
Randy Simpson of Central Florida Presbytery reported that in the past two years his presbytery had almost doubled the number of congregations supporting a Presbyterian mission worker. That effort started with the presbytery’s participation in Mission Challenge ’07, a concentrated nationwide itineration of 48 mission speakers in nearly 150 presbyteries.
Another itineration of mission personnel — World Mission Challenge — is scheduled for this fall.
Valle anticipates that the advocates will gather every other year. The group appointed a committee to continue work begun on a “job description” for mission advocates and a covenant.