Many faces of outreach
by Doug Tindal
In the Kensington area of London a double-decker bus bears the slogan ``2000 years since what?'' In the OkeOsun, Nigeria, a mountain has been consecrated for prayer. In Wabamkela, Diocese of Port Elizabeth, 30 to 80 children gather daily to be nurtured in body and spirit. It's all part of the rich variety of mission in the Anglican Communion, as represented by the bishops of Section Two,``Called to Live and Proclaim Good News.'' Each bishop was asked to bring stories and photographs of mission in their diocese, and a selection of these is now posted in the lobby of the Grimond Building. The stories reveal some common themes.
Chief among these is the essential unity of mission and evangelism. The crest of the Diocese of Luwero (Uganda), for example, symbolises its many ministries: distributing seeds and agricultural services; teaching animal husbandry; caring for the elderly and sick; planting trees; fishing; operating a crafts shop; and, of course, preaching the gospel-using words when necessary. In the Diocese of Alabama, four congregations sent a team of two doctors, three nurses, three priests and seven laypeople to San Jose de la Montana in Honduras.They set up a clinic and treated more than 700 people over a four-day period. In many cases, effective outreach requires a willingness to go beyond the churchyard. Bishop Roger Sainsbury (Barking, England) conducted a personal mission to the people of Havering, strolling cassocked and crosiered into the pubs and round the market.
The market village of Aylesbury, in the Diocese of Oxford, is the scene of the ancient King's Head Inn, once patronised by Henry VIII, now renovated into a Christian conference centre and restaurant. A restaurant? It's one way, says manager Andrew Clark, of reaching ``the God-indifferent, unchurched middle class.'' The Aylesbury venture is one of many in which ecumenical cooperation is prominent. Similarly, in the Diocese of Monmouth (Wales) Bishop Rowan Williams lends support to a fledgling Christian healing ministry, the Well Centre in Cwmbran.And an ecumenically sponsored clinic in a poor section of St Augustine, Florida (US), shows how centring oneself in service to community can bring renewal. The congregation of St Cyprian's, writes the rector, used to be ``inordinately preoccupied with its own selfpreservation, discouraged, and torn by strife.'' Through the clinic, members have helped to ``incarnate hope, caring and compassion in their community.'' Prayer runs throughout the mission stories, but nowhere more prominently than in the Diocese of Oke-Osun, Nigeria. Its report notes:``a remarkable outcome of people's greater disposition to prayer is the consecration of a prayer mountain for the diocese. Besides regular diocesan and archdeaconry prayer sessions on Mount Aseyori, individuals and groups go there to pray.''
It's not all triumph and success. One photo shows a modest church in rural Kyoto (Japan), built in 1929. ``The present congregation, however, only numbers three. ...the rural population is not at all receptive to Christianity. To carry out effective mission in such areas is the greatest mission challenge we now face.'' And, dramatically, the Diocese of Cork (Ireland) began the Decade of Evangelism by closing 20 churches. It was a courageous and appropriate move, but one which required great discernment. Along the way, the Church recognised that one of the churches scheduled for closure instead should be renewed.The small congregation caught the vision and raised £180,000 for a complete renovation of the building. The result: closer ties with the community, better relations with the neighbouring Roman Catholic congregation, and an appropriate new name: The Church of the Resurrection.
Photo montage of outreach activities (~80K)
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