Organizers of the World Mission Celebration ’09 are anticipating that the event will draw hundreds of Presbyterians with a passion for mission that’s empowered by their allegiance to Jesus Christ.
Gathering under the theme “Branches of the Same Vine,” the Oct. 22–24 celebration will offer a wide-ranging program that is expected to attract people who represent the broad diversity of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s international mission endeavors.
Like the John 15 passage on which its theme is based, the Cincinnati conference is centered on a common life and mission in Christ, says conference planning team chair Don Dawson, director of the World Mission Initiative at Pittsburgh Seminary and the New Wilmington Mission Conference.
“It’s coming together around the One who gives us life and power and enables us to bear fruit,” he explains. “Ultimately there is diversity, there are many branches, but those branches are powerless without Jesus.”
Lis Valle, Presbyterian World Mission’s associate director for equipping the church for mission involvement, says the celebration will seek to connect Presbyterians with others who have similar mission interests, enable mission learning through presentations and mutual sharing among attendees, and send participants forth to embrace their calling to mission service and support.
“Many elements of the program are designed to help people find others who are going to the same places and doing similar things,” she says. Organizers expect that more than 600 people will attend the celebration.
Each of five plenary sessions will focus on Presbyterian mission in a different region of the world. The topics include health and development in Africa; primary, secondary and higher education in Asia; evangelism and theological education in the Americas; partnership in evangelism in Europe; and advocacy and interfaith dialogue in the Middle East.
The presenters will include mission personnel, global mission partners, World Mission staff, and mission initiators from congregations. Each session will conclude with group discussions around tables and prayers for the region.
The celebration will include workshops related to education, evangelism, health, interfaith relations, advocacy, short-term mission trips, and other mission topics. “Many of the workshops are targeted to empower congregations to engage in mission,” Valle says. “It’s not just to learn about mission, but how to be more faithful in the ministries congregations are doing.”
The event’s leadoff speaker will be Hunter Farrell, director of Presbyterian World Mission, who will speak on “Going Deeper: The Power of Presbyterian Mission in Jesus’ Way.”
Mary Mikhail, president of the Near East School of Theology in Beirut, Lebanon, will preach during the closing worship service.
The celebration comes at the conclusion of World Mission Challenge, which is sending 40 mission personnel across the country in September and October to tell how God is at work around the world through Presbyterians and their partners. Most of the Mission Challenge speakers will be attending the Celebration. Some will be leading workshops and/or plenary sessions, but all will be available for conversations with conference participants.
The team planning the Celebration is composed of representatives from various Presbyterian groups involved in mission, including the Association of Presbyterian Mission Pastors (APMP), Presbyterian Women (PW), the Medical Benevolence Foundation (MBF), Presbyterian Frontier Fellowship (PFF), Frontera de Cristo, the World Mission Initiative, the New Wilmington Mission Conference, and the Presbyterian World Mission staff.
Joining Presbyterian World Mission as co-sponsors are PFF, MBF, The Outreach Foundation, First Presbyterian Church of Dearborn, MI, and Frontera de Cristo.
Dawson says the celebration reflects a commitment to cooperation in mission that was evident at a mission consultation in Dallas in January 2008. At that meeting participants developed a set of core values to guide Presbyterian mission efforts that have been endorsed by 34 Presbyterian groups and more than 200 individuals.
Several mission groups will be meeting in Cincinnati in conjunction with the celebration. They include about 20 mission networks, APMP, a newly formed Young Adult Volunteer alumni group, the continuation committee from the Dallas mission consultation, and a group of presbytery executives who want to work more closely with World Mission.
The celebration’s registration fee, which includes six meals, is $225 for those registering prior to Sept. 15. After Sept. 15 the fee goes up to $275. The celebration will be held at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Cincinnati and the adjoining Duke Energy Convention Center.
To register online, visit the event’s Web site or call (888) 728-7228, x5729 for registration information. The celebration’s Web site also includes a link to a discounted room rate ($108 per night up to quadruple occupancy) at the Hyatt for those who register online. The discount can also be obtained by calling the Hyatt at (513) 579-1234 and informing the reservationist that you are attending the World Mission Celebration.