Mission Crossroads

SUM 2017

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.

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Mission Crossroads 3 Volunteer Movement: "e evangelization of the world in this generation." Yet missionaries in these years were rarely simply evangelists. ey were generally engaged in holistic mission, building schools and hospitals, translating the Bible and seeking social reforms. Women played a key role from the beginning of Presbyterian mission. It was women who formed the mission support organizations that raised the funds and provided much of the publicity that made foreign missions possible. Women were also missionaries. By 1830 women already constituted half of the missionaries sent by Protestant mission societies in the U.S., and by 1900 this had shot up to two-thirds of all U.S. missionaries. Presbyterian women also established or supported a number of specific mission programs, including the Mission Yearbook for Prayer and Study, the Presbyterian Hunger Program and the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program. Early missionaries are often mistakenly accused of being agents of Western colonialism whose efforts undermined local cultures. Yet it was often missionaries, such as William Sheppard in the Congo, who were the sharpest critics of colonial practices. Also, missionaries' attempts to promote education — especially literacy — often resulted in helping to revive indigenous languages as mediums of literature, as the translation of the Bible did for Arabic in the Middle East and for Hindi in India. Early missionaries are also often harshly criticized for the paternalistic attitude they sometimes assumed toward non-Westerners. Yet, in fairness, it should be pointed out that missionaries had in mind from the beginning that they were attempting to establish indigenous churches. e 1889 edition of the Northern branch of the Presbyterian Church's mission manual made this clear. e Board of Foreign Missions, it declared, sought "the speedy establishment" of independent indigenous churches. e independent-minded Presbyterian churches in Japan and Brazil became the trendsetters in this movement. At a Board of Foreign Missions conference held at Princeton in 1920, conferees agreed that, following evangelism, the aim of missions should be to establish "self-propagating, self-supporting and self-governing" indigenous churches. With the rise of nationalism following World War II, the global mission endeavor had to make its peace with a postcolonial world. Until this time, many countries with Presbyterian churches had both mission and church organizations, with most of the real power held by the former. e Northern and Southern Presbyterian churches came to the realization at about the same time (1958 and 1962, respectively) that this had to change. Over the next decade or more, mission organizations abroad were dissolved and their financial and physical assets, historically controlled by missionaries, were transferred to local churches. Beginning in the 1960s, mission was reconceived as "partnership" between equals in which there was mutuality, each providing something to the relationship. Missionaries were then called "fraternal workers"; today, following this tradition, they are called mission co-workers. In this context, evangelism continued to be important, but it was usually the indigenous church that was expected to take the lead. Also, social justice gained increased prominence. It had always been part of the mission agenda, but now it was seen as an essential aspect of the church's witness to God's kingdom in the world. Perhaps the biggest change was the realization that traditional mission fields no longer existed. As Western Christians came to see the need for social justice in their own nations, they concluded that the whole world was now the mission field. The Rev. Dr. Michael Parker, mission co-worker in Egypt, serves as the director of graduate studies at the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo. LEARN MORE Read letters from PC(USA) mission co-workers. pcusa.org/missionconnections New Presbyterian churches, like this one in Assiut, Egypt, are under construction on plots of land provided by the Egyptian government. This is a turnabout in mission. Since 1863, the Presbyterian Church in Egypt has grown to include nearly 400 churches, including 100 new church plants or "fellowship groups" in eight presbyteries in the Synod of the Nile. Synod of the Nile

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