Better Together provides a space to share experiences with – and strategies for engaging – three critical global issues that PC(USA) global partners are challenging us to address together as the body of Christ. These three issues are 1) addressing root causes of poverty, especially as it impacts women and children; 2) sharing the Good News of God’s love in Jesus Christ; and 3) working for reconciliation in cultures of violence, including our own. The purpose of Better Together is to feed a conversation to shape concrete action strategies at the October 2012 “Dallas II: Better Together” consultation and beyond.
For the past two years Presbyterian World Mission (PWM) has been undergoing a process of strategic planning in light of the changing circumstances in the world and of new developments within our own denomination. In the course of its research and deliberations, PWM has decided to narrow its mission focus to three critical global issues, which can be summarized as addressing poverty, engaging in witness, andworking for reconciliation in cultures of violence. It has also concluded that for maximum effectiveness its work should be done in collaboration with the broader Presbyterian family that at many levels is engaging in mission work independent of the denomination’s mission organization. This collaboration, it believes, should take place in “communities of mission practice,” a term adopted to connote the major paradigm shift in how mission may best be done in the coming years. The specific forms and areas of collaboration, however, will need to be worked out with the many mission participants in the PC(USA) who are committed to doing mission as a connectional church.
The “Dallas II—Better Together” consultation will be an opportunity for the church’s many mission-supporting organizations, partners and institutions to come together to discuss how we might best proceed together. In this sense, it will build on the first Dallas consultation, which took place in January 2008. At that event PC(USA) stakeholders in mission met to address the shift in mission that had taken place over the previous quarter century. During this time Presbyterian mission moved from being a movement highly centralized in Presbyterian World Mission to a more decentralized effort among numerous participants. The first Dallas consultation recognized and affirmed this reality, producing a document to this effect that received near unanimous support within the denomination. The Dallas II consultation is being held under the assumption that Presbyterians doing mission recognize that our efforts will be more effective, better received by our global partners, and bring greater glory to God if we find ways to work together for common ends.
PWM believes that much, though not all, of our common work can be done in collaboration with one another around the three critical global issues. Hence the first part of this paper will briefly examine these issues, laying out root causes, general effects, opportunities, and possible approaches. The second part will look at the specific models and strategies that Presbyterians are pursuing to address these issues. The paper will conclude with an explanation of how communities of mission practice could become a successful meta-organizational model for Presbyterians to embrace in their ongoing work of seeking to do God’s mission in the world.
This paper does not seek to be exhaustive on any of the complex issues that it addresses; rather, it seeks to be suggestive. That is, it hopes to present a wide variety of issues and suggested solutions so that the participants in the consultation will be stimulated to think creatively about new approaches for the future. Read the full "Dallas II: Better Together" paper here.
Visit Better Together frequently to read reflections on addressing root causes of poverty, engaging in witness and working for reconciliation. Blog entries will be posted weekly to represent experiences and ideas from Presbyterians and PC(USA) partners from the US and around the world.