In the face of social issues affecting the global community in general, and Papua New Guinea (PNG) in particular, the Executive of Council for World Mission (CWM Ltd), recently met in PNG over a two-day period (9-10 February) to review the work of the international charity and church-based organisation and to plan for the ensuing period. During this time, CWM Ltd recommitted itself to issues of justice and healing, and decided to begin a process of intentional change beginning with themselves, particularly with regard to a more environment-friendly travel policy which harnesses modern technology like video conferencing and web meetings.

The meeting begun with time in worship, fellowship and an exposure tour of the United Church of Papua New Guinea (UCPNG) – an experience that gave the Executive a first-hand experience of the church at work in the context of PNG.

During the two-day meeting, space was provided for its members and CWM staff to hear about the social context of PNG and the response of the UCPNG to such a context; and to explore opportunities for CWM to collaborate and accompany the church in this regard.  We heard, among other things, of the high rate of crime and violence, especially the range of violence against women.  The Executive welcomed the initiatives of the church in which they have documented the theological basis and policy framework for their response; and are taking steps to call their ministers and other church leaders to commit themselves to zero tolerance in practice and advocacy and to provide practical ministry towards healing and renewal of survivors of violence.

The Executive regarded the statistics on crime and violence as frightening, expressed its pain at such acts and declared its commitment to be in solidarity with the UCPNG as it explores ways to champion the cause of survivors of violence and to challenge the perpetrators and colluders of such violence.

In his report to the Executive CWM General Secretary, Rev Dr Collin Cowan, called the members to take note of the dismal state of affairs worldwide where cruelty, callousness and cowardice defined much of the social order; and where hunger, poor healthcare, acts of terrorism, forest fires, floods, droughts, rising sea levels and volcanic eruptions, among other painful occurrences and experiences, testify to the bleakness of the global community.  It is within such a frame that the reading of the social context of PNG was heard.

The Executive recommitted itself to the cause of justice, declaring that we must take immediate steps reorganise our way of behaving so that more effort and resources can be committed to respond to matters such as the Ebola Epidemic in West Africa and support for member churches in their efforts to be caring, compassionate and healing communities.

The meeting concluded on a high note with both Executive members and staff acknowledging that this must be the year of ventures, where hope is given practical expression and our behaviour and lifestyles become examples of the alternative we pray and work for.