Our Global Engagement: We Have Much More in Common with Each Other Than you Might Think
The World Council of Churches recently held its assembly in Germany under the theme Christ’s Love Moves the World to Reconciliation and Unity. As mentioned in the feature article, the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) meets in assembly next year in Krakow, Poland, under the theme One Body, One Spirit, One Hope.
These two themes underline why we participate in these global expressions of the church. They help us join our siblings in Christ around the world in discerning how God continues to speak to us and forms us into expressions of the church and calls us to act as God’s agents of justice and reconciliation in a world that is in so much need.
We live out these global relationships in a variety of ways: through participation in governing councils, by participating in committees, task forces and gatherings, and by deepening our relationships with specific churches around the globe. For example, Bishop Larry Kochendorfer currently serves on the council of the LWF.
In the ELCIC this latter takes place through the synods’ Global Companion relationships and through the Global Partners of the national expression of the church. Right now those include the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land ELCJHL (Jordan, Israel and Palestine), the Iglesia Evangelico Luterana Unidad IELU (Argentina and Uruguay), and the Iglesia Luterana Peru IL-P (Peru).
These churches are smaller than we are in terms of geography, congregations and members. They help us to remember that although we sometimes feel like a small church in Canada, we have been gifted with many resources to share.
We share those resources by working in partnership with the churches to listen to their goals and priorities and to see how we can best support them. Sometimes it is by sharing written resources that are then translated and contextualized for use. Sometimes it is by financially supporting specific projects or ministries. Always it includes mutual prayer and accompaniment.
Right now, the projects we support in the ELCJHL, IELU, and IL-P are all related to the education of children and youth.
In Peru, we financially support the work of Pastora Yoli and the congregation in Iquitos (which is in the Amazon) in a program of providing meals and tutoring services for children and youth, often whose parents have left them in the care of others so they can find employment in Lima.
With Argentina and Uruguay, we financially support the rehabilitation of part of a church-owned nursing home to provide extra classrooms for a school with a long waiting list of students.
In the Jordan and the Holy Land, we financially support tuition scholarships for students to attend the ELCJHL schools in Ramallah, Bethlehem, and Beit Sahour.
These projects don’t just help in the education of young people, they specifically target those with financial needs, helping to provide hope for a future in communities that experience many challenges.
It is important to remember that we don’t just send money. We keep in touch by email and zoom. We talk and pray with church leaders and project co-ordinators.
We visit when we can to fulfill our fiduciary responsibilities to Canada Revenue Agency for the use of charitable funds, but more than that to listen and learn how life and ministry is happening in the context of our partner churches and to share the same from our own perspective.
We have much more in common with each other than you might think!
In the past few years as budgets have tightened, I have taken over responsibilities of staffing our work in both Canadian Mission and Global Mission. I am looking forward to an upcoming visit to our partner church IELU, and I look forward to sharing stories from that visit with you soon.
Rev. Susan Johnson
ELCIC National Bishop