Reflecting the changing nature of the world and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the denomination’s World Mission area is also evolving, moving toward a new model of communities of mission practice.
“To do all that, I know we need God’s guidance,” said the Rev. Hunter Farrell, director of World Mission, during a May 14 webinar for staff.
World Mission will encourage a different relationship with PC(USA) congregations, with every staff member seeing himself or herself as a “global connector,” Farrell said.
As part of the 2013-14 Mission Work Plan and Budget — approved May 11 by the General Assembly Mission Council — World Mission eliminated 11 positions, some of which were vacant. In addition, the area created eight new positions that reflect its new vision.
One key part of that vision is the role of regional liaisons, who will work in an increased capacity to serve as point people between congregations and PC(USA) mission workers in their area of the world. They will act as diplomats and work to grow networks or communities of mission practice around World Mission’s three critical global issues (CGIs) — addressing the root causes of poverty, especially as they affect women and children; sharing the good news of God’s love in Jesus Christ; and being agents of reconciliation among cultures of violence.
World Mission is also creating new positions for three CGI catalysts. These staffers will each be assigned one of the CGIs and use their expertise to work with young adults, mission personnel and communities of mission practice for a strong and clear collective impact on the issue.
Area coordinators, already established positions within World Mission, will work with global partners to maintain relationships and address the CGIs, while regional liaisons will have more direct responsibility for support and supervision of mission workers.
“Together we can make a greater difference in this world under the guidance of the Holy Spirit,” Farrell said, adding that such change comes at a price. “We need a change of culture in World Mission. We’ll need to see ourselves as having our greatest collective impact when we connect God’s people in both places.”
Since it began 175 years ago, Presbyterian mission in the United States has gone through two major phases and is entering into a third. From 1837-1960 the church “sent the best of the West to the rest,” doing mission on behalf of the church, Farrell said. From about 1960- 2010, mission focused more on partnerships with the global church, with the PC(USA) working alongside leaders of international partner churches.
“We begin now a different time that will build on the strengths of the past,” Farrell said.
This summer World Mission will make further changes the new structure will require, especially around communication and decision-making processes. Area coordinators will now be the primary people in evaluating and making decisions about mission positions, and the processes will be expedited, Farrell said.