The second day of CWM’s Annual Members’ Meeting (AMM) on 14 June began with morning worship and a bible study led by Rev. Dr Frin Lewis Smith, a minister of the United Reformed Church (URC) and former CWM Trustee. Drawing on her experience as a Healthcare Chaplain in a major trauma hospital, Rev. Dr Frin spoke about psychological trauma and how making space for Christ’s wounded disciples to grapple with traumatic experiences is meaningful and valuable. She also spoke about spiritual distress for nurses, which impaired their ability to find meaning in life, connect with life and with those around them, and to practise their faith. Preaching from Lamentations 3, she said that the poet longed for God to see their suffering, be moved by it, and act for them.
Member church delegates received a comprehensive report on CWM’s The Onesimus Project (TOP), presented by Rev. Dr Roderick Hewitt, Chairperson of TOP Core Group. He highlighted in detail the Project’s new direction that endeavours to work on four main areas.
First, addressing legacies of slavery that CWM’s fore-bear, the London Missionary Society (LMS) has been involved and complicit in through an act of confession and reparation. Second, CWM aims to join in global efforts to tackle contemporary manifestations of slavery, as the Core Group identified that ancient slavery has mutated into various forms of modern-day slavery such as human trafficking, child labour, forced labour, domestic servitude and migrant workers.
Third, education for liberation through which CWM seeks to educate children, young adults, and member church congregations and individuals by developing anti-racist Christian education and decolonizing theological education. Fourth, transformative ecumenism to nurture new opportunities for ecumenical collaboration and engagement with our partners on this issue, and to raise awareness of modern slavery and galvanise action among ecumenical, missional and people’s movements.
CWM member church delegates were informed that based on these main working areas, the Onesimus Project will be launched on 23 August 2022 in South Africa. After this presentation, members engaged in productive conversations. Several concerns raised by members were addressed by Rev. Dr Hewitt and CWM General Secretary Rev. Dr Jooseop Keum, who assured them of ongoing discussion and engagement with members going forward.
In the afternoon, the CWM Board of Directors and member church delegates visited the CWM UK office in London for the first time, to pray for and bless this recently procured and renovated office space, which CWM envisions to use for two areas of the new programmatic structure, marking the close of the day’s proceedings.
Report by Hui Jun Chia, Inputs by Rev. Dileep Kumar Kandula