Mission Crossroads

FAL 2018

Mission Crossroads is a three-time-a-year magazine focused on worldwide work of the PC(USA). It offers news and feature stories about mission personnel, international partners and grassroots Presbyterians involved in God's mission in the world.

Issue link: https://missioncrossroads.epubxp.com/i/1024538

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2 | Fall 2018 Joys of collaboration Connectional mission reaps benefits all around the table Jo Ella Holman ne of the marks of Presbyterianism is that we are a "connectional" church — that is, our congregations are connected through presbyteries that are connected to synods and to our General Assembly. In some profound ways, our "being connectional" is a way of practicing "being church" — sharing our gifts, talents and resources as well as our sorrows and pain. Connectional mission can further our practice of being the church within our own presbyteries, across our denomination and within the broader ecumenical family. But if we focus for a few moments on our congregations, presbyteries, synods and General Assembly, we can see many benefits of doing mission in a connectional way. My own ministry in the Caribbean region, where I serve as a mission co-worker, is built on and seeks to strengthen PC(USA) connectionalism. Let me give one example from our mission partnership in Cuba. ere are 90-some partnerships between PC(USA) congregations and presbyteries with the Presbyterian- Reformed Church in Cuba. Some are presbytery-to-presbytery partnerships and some are congregational. Several of these are more than 25 years old. ere is a depth to the relationships that is hard to find in many places. Just imagine: Two or three generations of American and Cuban Presbyterians have worshipped together, served together and become friends. ey know each other's children and grandchildren, their communities, their congregations. ere is a joy in the encounter, whether in Cuba or the U.S. is is no small thing, friends: to develop and nurture Christian ties that bind us together over time and across cultural and language barriers, across walls of hostility between our two governments. On the PC(USA) side, presbytery partnerships offer unique opportunities for working together within our own presbyteries, for building relationships as we learn and work together toward common goals and commitments. We can make space for members of smaller churches to participate in a larger mission engagement. We can do presbytery-wide youth activities, cultural events, Bible studies and many other activities that are related to the partnership. Such common mission focus can build unity and friendships within our own church and, in these fractured days in which we live, that is a worthy goal in itself. Bryan Beck of Albuquerque, New Mexico, related how a partnership with the Cuban synod has "connected us with folks in the Santa Fe Presbytery who otherwise we would not have known. We coordinate visits of Cubanos here, we plan times that reflect the hospitality the Cubans have shown us, we coordinate presbytery visits to Cuba." He added, "We have even made some new personal friends within the presbytery, folks we met on one of those presbytery trips to Cuba." Sorrel Ann Alburger, who is active in First Presbyterian Church of New York City's Cuba partnership, said their partnership in Cuba has spurred a new connection with the Latino Presbyterian congregations in their presbytery, as well as new bilingual worship services and a weekly Spanish- language class that has become popular. ere is greater interest in presbytery programs, especially those involving Latino congregations. An additional benefit of presbytery partnerships for the U.S. church is that they enable us to experience a broader context in Cuba — the breadth of an entire Cuban presbytery — and thereby deepen our understanding of the joys and challenges of the Cuban church and people. e covenants used to guide the presbytery partnerships provide continuity that can survive changes in presbytery or pastoral leadership in either church. Several presbytery partnerships have developed congregation-to- congregation partnerships. is has enabled participating congregations to "go deep" in one community, while retaining a helpful framework for communication, activities, and sharing of ideas for prayer and worship in our home congregations. In Long Island Presbytery, the Cuba Work Group is an official part of the presbytery. It "serves as an umbrella for the individual congregation-to- congregation partnerships within our partnership with Havana Presbytery," said Barbara D'Andrea, chairperson. e Cuba Work Group provides a space for sharing about the activities, challenges and joys of the congregational partnerships and updated information about what is happening in Cuba and in the Cuban church. O

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