The Board of World Mission in North America (BWM) met from October 3-5, 2013 at the Christian Springs Retreat Center in Bethlehem, Pa. for a strategic planning session, followed by a business meeting.
The session began with a presentation by Rev. Dr. Craig Atwood, Moravian Theological Seminary, regarding early Moravian missions under Zinzendorf. He corrected a common misunderstanding saying that Moravians were not the first Protestant missionaries. However they were the first mission church where missions became central to the identity of the church, and were the first to embrace a truly global vision, sending people all over the world in a relatively short period of time. The early Moravians also were not afraid to fail and had to close a variety of mission sites for many different reasons.
We on the BWM continue to affirm missions as the central identity of our church—sharing Christ in Word and deed. However, how we live out that call may be different given the many changes in our world today.
Consultant Barry Frey from the Samaritan Counseling Center led our board through our strategic planning session. Two primary initiatives emerged in our work: 1) reaching out to congregations and equipping others in mission; and 2) identifying opportunities and needs for mission.
What is interesting is that this direction to work more closely with our congregations parallels suggestions that came out of our survey of clergy at the interprovincial clergy conference this past spring. Top priorities for those who responded to the survey included relationship-building, mission programming and education, ongoing communication about mission opportunities and leadership development. It is hoped that we can realign staff to be more accessible to congregations, as well as prepare our board members to be better resources to congregations in their regions, as together we seek discernment for God’s direction in how we share the Good News both locally and globally. We will be reevaluating how we best support volunteers in mission, including work crews, disaster relief and short-term missions.
The BWM continues to partner with our traditional provinces: Costa Rica, Guyana, Honduras, Labrador, Nicaragua and W. Tanzania. We are committed to decreasing the block grants to each of these areas by 10 percent per year, with the hope of walking with them more intentionally in leadership development, stewardship training, and mission outreach. As we learn of new opportunities for partnership we will let congregations know of them (please look for our updated Second Mile Project list on the website www.moravianmission.org.) We also are guiding the new mission areas of Cuba, Peru and Sierra Leone and are excited about the chance to walk with them as they develop the structure for their churches and reach out in new ways to share God’s love with others.
In the midst of our strategic planning, someone came forth with the phrase: “The Board of World Mission is a place where we put people, passion, gifts, needs and Jesus together and we’re ready to deal with whatever happens.” One never knows what God will do when we offer all that we are in service and mission—much like the early Moravians did when all of life went to support the mission of the church. I think that could be a mantra for all of us. I look forward to walking more intentionally with our congregations to do just that—seeing what God will make of our willingness to offer ourselves and seek where God would have us serve!
The Rev. Judy Ganz is Executive Director of the North American Board of World Mission.
From the November 2013 Moravian Magazine