General Secretary’s Greetings at the Council Meeting of the Union of Welsh Independents
Rev Dr Collin Cowan, Council for World Mission
25 September 2015
It is with immense delight and great joy that I greet the Council of the Union of Welsh Independents as you gather for this special sitting. In this regard I am joined by my Colleagues – Rev Wayne Hawkins, Regional Secretary for the European Region of CWM, and Ms Fiskani Nyirenda, Assistant to the General Secretary – who share this moment with me, and we do so in the name and on behalf of the Board of Directors and the Secretariat of the Council for World Mission.
The place of the UWI is well known and highly valued in the life of CWM and over the years our fellowship and engagement with God’s mission has been enriched by the quality of the leadership of those who have represented this church in CWM circles. Your General Secretary has been among those who have served this organisation with utter distinction and faithfulness. His passion for the cause of justice and his consistency in speaking to and challenging us to rise above narrow-mindedness in the way we pursue God’s mission has kept us ever on the cutting edge. During my tenure as General Secretary I have been privileged to have one of the dearest and most gracious sisters and daughters of this community to serve as Trustees, Mrs Gwyneth Jones of blessed memory, who was a breath of fresh air and a source of inspiration to me personally and to the Council as a whole; and now Director Jeff Williams, whose years of experience, maturity in faith and life and clear insights on the issues of the day, have made him a treasured gift from you to us for this season.
The Council for World Mission is a partnership of 31 member churches in forty countries around the world and some 21.5 million Christians. UWI is numbered among the 31 and takes its place at the table where decisions are made to advance the mission and to serve God’s people in their varying circumstances of life. I take this opportunity therefore to thank you most sincerely for your unswerving commitment and unqualified contribution to the work of CWM and to affirm you in your ministry here in this context, wishing you God’s blessings and guidance. I also would like your indulgence as I share briefly with you a few of the pressing issues that constitute the agenda of CWM at this time and about which I believe you share common interest.
- CWM’s priority for the period leading up to 2019 is to accompany member churches in developing missional congregations. Simply put we desire that all our congregations would become communities of healing and hope for the broken in spirit and for those battered and bruised by the circumstances of life. We yearn for the day when every local congregation is seen and experienced as God at work in community, God’s presence in the midst of pain and turmoil and God’s touch of healing grace.
- As of 2017 CWM will implement a new strategy of encouraging member churches in regions to come together annually to read the signs of the time, consider mission initiatives, share stories, network and build solidarity among the churches. This initiative is called the Members’ Mission Forum (MMF) and it will provide space for those directly involved in leading the mission initiatives on member churches to see and dream together where God may lead us.
- At the beginning of this year CWM launched a series of colloquia on “The Economy of Life” to be conducted in all regions through to 2019. The objective is to develop capacity within member churches to take a practical hands-on approach to redress economic injustices and imbalances so blatant in our world. By 2019 all member churches of CWM would have been exposed to three colloquia, focusing on different aspects of the economic challenges being faced across the world and developing concrete ways to address the issues identified and to initiate viable economic alternatives. This programme was launched in support of CWM’s commitment to a New International Financial and Economic Architecture, introduced by WCRC in 2010 and which four ecumenical bodies (WCRC, WCC, LWF and CWM) have agreed to pursue.
- Evangelism has been identified as one of nine themes that will inform and guide the work of CWM’s Secretariat over the next few years. We believe that evangelism is core to the mission of the church and yet it is one of the most misunderstood and abused ministries of the church. It is our intention to reclaim it as “Good News” and to encourage churches to position ourselves as God’s messengers of this gospel as proclaimed and practised by Jesus of Nazareth.
- At a recently held consultation on one of CWM’s flagship programmes, the Partners in Mission, we reaffirmed the significance of this programme and proposed new ways of enriching it. We agreed to pursue a range of short term opportunities for individuals who wish to serve the church through this programme; and we affirmed the need to build a dynamic platform for giving and receiving, sharing and learning that will elevate the concept of people sharing for God’s mission to a new level of understanding and engagement by our member churches. To this end we encourage the UWI to think of ways to continue its participation.
- CWM is encouraging member churches to work more ecumenically, as a way of acknowledging that we cannot do it alone; and more importantly, that God is at work in a variety of ways in community and that the Church is only one vehicle through which God reveals God’s self.
- In June 2016 CWM will hold its 5th Assembly in Jeju Islands, South Korea, hosted by the Presbyterian Church of Korea. The theme of this coming Assembly is “Healing: Hope in Action”, a call to be and to model an alternative to the revenge-seeking, callous and indifferent attitude and the compassion-less disposition that characterise the world as we have come to experience it. Through this theme we intend to take a holistic look at healing, with a focus on the world, the church and the future and committing ourselves to actions of hope, by the grace of God, as the non-negotiable prerequisite for healing in our time. We have already issued the call for delegates to your General Secretary and we are looking forward to receiving the list of those who will represent the UWI at this Assembly. Over the next months we will also be inviting member churches to share in the development of the theme through contextual and personal interpretation in the forms of art, songs, prayers, personal stories and biblical reflections, among other things.
Dear Sisters and brothers, my colleagues join me in wishing you well in your deliberations over these days. We share with you the quest for a better world, a world marked by peace and justice for all of God’s creation, where no one is made to be a stranger and all are embraced in the fellowship of love. We share with you the quest for a better world, a world marked by harmony with all of God’s creation, where the environment is cared for as an act of faith in and obedience to God who calls us to responsible lifestyle and considerate behaviours. We share with you the quest for a better world, a world marked by healing, where both the victim and the perpetrator of violence can find sanctuary, where accompaniment is not overlooked, accountability not compromised and acceptance becomes a way of life. We pray with you for the inspiration and guidance of the Holy Spirit as you attend to the business of this Council and we look forward to strengthening our fellowship in the years ahead as we claim common ground to participate in God’s mission.
God bless you all and God bless the Union of Welsh Independents.
Photo Credit: Rev Dr Geraint Tudur, Union of Welsh Independents