Today I have spent the day with others in the diocese at seminar day on ‘Mission and Poverty’. We had four great speakers; Capt Nick Russel, Fr Paul Butler, Fr Andrew Moughton Mumby and Bishop Karowei. Each of them brought something distinctive, challenging and rich, based entirely on their experience and ministry in the areas they are set in. I recognised in particular that each of them had been in their parishes for more than 10 years (Bishop Karowei was in his parish for around 12 before he became bishop last year).
So …. this isn’t a short term thing!
Nick suggested that to the question of what does mission look like here, then it is best summed up in the words ‘practical love’ … and I think he is totally correct. He spoke a little of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which made laods of sense t be some 30 something years ago when I studied that as a hopeful teacher. Before people can think of transient issues their material needs have to be met. I agree, but on reflection need to ask are the poor and destitute in the majority world then not able to worship … I’m not sure that is true … so although I agree, I am wrestling with what is happening here?
Paul’s words challenged me further as he passionately spoke of gospel values, and asking that of we follow them should there be need in our churches if it is all about sharing and the common life? It’s a hard hitting question that you can’t really shy away from. ‘Go sell your posessions’ says Jesus to the rich guy …. that’s pretty hard hitting teaching! It’s kinda there in black and white ….
Andrew challenged us to think about how we encourage indigenous leadership in our locations and suggested that maybe long courses of study are not quite the direction we should be going in. He also wondered aloud whether when we ask ‘how much will this cost?’ or ‘what is the cheapest way to do this bit of mission?’ we are making money into an idol.
Bishop Karowei rounded off the day by reminding us that all are created in the image of God and that God is for all, loves all, and is interested in all. I think we would have a discussion on God’s preferential for the poor which is where I think I am coming from.
The day was an excellent day … I met new people, we had great discussions, I’ve come away inspired to read stuff again and questioning how I can look at my area with different eyes …. I’ve also been tearful at hearing stories of real life people suffering in this city and know we have to do something … thanks Fr Ian for sorting this out!
I think podcasts of the talks will be put online soon … i’ll link to them when they are up.