The second day opened with worship lead by Rev Kyungin Kim. His devotion was based around the story of Naboth’s vineyard. The greed, power dynamics, manipulation, vulnerability and abuse of power spoke into many of our lives and relationships we have known. We all identified at different levels with the traits displayed by all the characters in the story.
We heard the stories of Two Partners in Mission Derek and Edith Silwenga from the UCZ who are working in Botswana in pastoral ministry caring for differing community needs, including the twinning of churches, manse-building, buying a minibus to help transport older people to services and communion. The younger members of the congregation are deeply involved in community work as well. We saw a video from Charles and Molly Lim Chau from Singapore who look after two Churches in Wales. While many of the congregants are elderly both do a wonderful ministry amongst the overseas students at Swansea University.
We also heard from the Rev Moya from Mizoram Presbyterian Church which was originally founded by the mission of the Presbyterian Church of Wales in the late 1890s. Its mission now is reach the unreached , strengthen believers and plant churches. It has a membership of around 500 000. It is a sending Church and has mission partners in India Nepal Taiwan Solomon Islanda UK Samoa Tuvalu Madagascar and Kiribati. It runs a Hindi Bible School, a Mission Development Training Centre as well as a theological college. Other ministries include Health and Education with the Church running High Schools, Middle schools and Primary Schools as well as hospitals and Health centres.
Rose Widderburn then gave an excellent presentation on the United Church of Jamaica and Cayman Island Churches process in dealing with Partners in Mission as a receiving Church and the different stages involved in the process including orientation and preparation of the PIM, integration, the Administrative Process of who does what until the stationing take place. She also discussed the arrangements for the sending back at the end of service.
Our group on Table 5 was then asked to look at and draft a programme for a returning Partner in Mission. We saw it as a 2 phase process the closure and sending back from the receiving church. Firstly it was suggested that a Farewell, Appreciation and Thanksgiving should be held for the PIM by the receiving church. Some free time was required to unwind and uarrange the packing and practicalities for the move. Before leaving a debrief or Exit Interview should be held covering what have we learnt? What have we done together. What have we not done. What are our achievements. Where are our challenges? What were your frustrations How can we improve things for other PIMs.
The next phase after leaving is the reorientation on arriving back. The sending Church should have been preparing to receive the PIM back. Again before anything takes place the PIM needs some personal time for reorientation and resettlement There are things like housing, family, schools, health matters and future employment to sort out. After a reasonable time the Debriefing Sessions should take place where the MOU is discussed and any package and entitlements acknowledged. Help and advice should be available if required for housing, employment, reintegrating into the local Church. A formal receiving back and thanksgiving from the sending church should be organised and discussions on how the local Church can best use your overseas experience. The Church Headquarters should also be involved as they too can in-put as to where the PIM can make the best impact. Links and connections should be maintained with the former receiving church so that a more formalised twinning arrangement may be made and the receiving Church still benefit from the partnership. Some process also needs to be in place for those who unfortunately do not cope or fail to complete their term of service for whatever reason.
As regards Succession Plans and Development in the interests of sustainability a local counterpart should be appointed if practicable. The exit plan should be there from the beginning of the planning stages. However, the receiving church needs to identify the local counterpart not the PIM. The Church should draw on the resources of the partner. It must be a dynamic process of learning, growing ,transferring and giving but it will not always be possible nor is it always desirable to reproduce a successor. However, if an understudy is selected 3 stages are involved in the process of succession. The pre-appointment phase where the understudy helps with the job to do it., the next is the actual training to do the job and the final phase is the mentor overseeing and observing the understudy at work. Gap-fillers are not enough as sustainability is necessary to reduce dependency.
Although both are vocations there may be a difference in approach depending on the role of the PIM. For Finance or Admin the above process can be used in a pasturing role the local church may need to break down the job into smaller areas and arrange external training for the understudy to develop capacity and encourage sustainability.
The Listening and Discernment group reported back on the themes, patterns and ideas that had come to the fore throughout the 2 days.
The Closing Prayers were offered by the Rev Eric So on the pruning of the vine. We were challenged to consider what we needed to prune and how we could stay close and still grafted to the Lord Jesus.