Launched by the Moderator at the time, Dr David Bruce, it came in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the exodus of people from the country. At the time PCI immediately released £60,000 to be distributed equally between its relief and development partners Christian Aid and Tearfund, and also to one of its partner churches, the Reformed Church in Hungary and its relief and development wing, Hungarian Reformed Church Aid, one of the first organisations to mobilise its staff and volunteers to provide immediate assistance. Members of Assembly heard first-hand from the Church on the current situation during its ‘Listening to the Global Church’ presentation.
Speaking to the General Assembly during the Council for Global Mission Repot, Rev Uel Marrs, Secretary to the Council, said that the Council “deeply appreciates congregations for their faithfulness and generosity.” He also said that in recent years the world had been grappling with a number of global crises, what he called the four ‘C’s’. “The first ‘C’ that came into focus was Climate, the shocks that it brings, and the need for Climate justice; yet we were not long into 2020 until a second ‘C’ appeared, Covid, a pandemic from which we are hopefully surfacing, though many still suffer.”
Mr Marrs continued, “This year two more ‘C’s have emerged, the Conflict in Ukraine with all its knock-on effects and which together with the first two ‘C’s, has led to 276 million, a doubling in two years, of the number of people in the world who are food insecure, with 49 million on the brink of famine. And now there is a fourth ‘C’ a cost of living crisis, meaning the World Food Programme faces a shortfall of some $10 billion if it is to feed all who go to bed hungry, but as we speak it is faced with halving its rations to many of the hungry in order to feed the starving.”
Mr Marrs reported that the 2021 World Development Appeal, entitled ‘Weathering the Storm’ had raised £446,879 to date. He also said that the Moderator’s Emergency Appeal for Ukraine had to his knowledge “raised the largest sum of any such appeal.”
Proposing the Council for Global Mission’s report, retiring Council Convener, Rev Dr Liz Hughes said that she was doing so for the last time, and that it had been “a joy to serve” the Council these last seven years. She also said that it had been privilege to meet with so many of PCI’s partners from various parts of the world.
“Meeting with our partners through the years has been both humbling and inspiring. And it does take a huge amount of careful prayerful listening and endeavouring to see how we can most effectively partner together in the gospel,” Dr Hughes said.
“We were challenged about our Western, or northern hemisphere approach, to partnership at a Global Connections conference during lockdown by a number of speakers but especially a Malawian theologian Harvey Kwiyani, now their CEO who told us that Africans, for example, are tired of asking for a seat at the table and tired of us in the West appearing to listen but not making any changes in our way of going. Our lingering colonial tendencies make us expect our partner churches to become like us rather than being prepared to change as we learn from them.”
Dr Hughes continued, “Our learning through partnership is clearly still an ongoing process and our partnership panel on behalf of the Council is presently working on what the future for partnership needs to be. Our commitment to partnership is also demonstrated in the people that we send from here – our Global Mission workers.”
Dr Hughes said that at present PCI has 25 adults serving in Portugal, Spain, Romania, and in England with East African communities, on the African continent in Malawi, Kenya and Zambia, with global mission workers serving in Nepal, Brazil and Russia. She had that all being well, the Church’s latest Mission workers will head out to Hungary. “We are privileged to have so many folks of such a high calibre hearing the call of God to overseas service,” she said.
The General Assembly also heard from two of its overseas delegates, Percy Patrick from the Church of North India, Gujurat Diocese and Amon Chanika, Director of Scripture Union in Malawi.
Mr Marrs concluded his speech by talking about key areas of work which is planned for the next three years in relation to climate justice, by building on COP26 and PCI’s commitment to fossil fuel divestment and to find new ways to stand in solidarity with the Christian Community in the Middle East. He also said that the Council would “to listen to black and minority ethnic people on issues of racism and colonialism as experienced on this island; and to reflect on the plight of asylum seekers and refugees here with a view to developing a culture of welcome and hospitality for all, especially given concerns over government policy in this area, not least most recent UK government policy on relocation of asylum seekers to Rwanda.”
Photos: (1) Listening to the debate on global mission are (left to right) Percy Patrick from the Church of North India, Gujurat Diocese, Rev Dr Liz Hughes, Convener of the Council for Global Mission and Council Secretary, Rev Uel Marrs and (2) Amon Chanika, Director of Scripture Union in Malawi.
The 2022 General Assembly opens on Wednesday, 22 June and closes on Saturday, 25 June. You will find the business before the Assembly here and the Reports that will be discussed here. You can follow proceedings live via Twitter @pciassembly using the hashtag #PCIGA22 for all public sessions, which will also livestreamed from this website. You can also watch from the public gallery in the Assembly Hall.