World Mission Celebration 2009
We experienced World Mission Celebration 09 as just that – a celebration of all God is doing
in the world through the PC(USA). Three days soaking up the experiences, wisdom and
inspiration of mission co-workers, US congregations, local churches and nonprofit groups
provided a wealth of information and ideas for how God might use Church of the Covenant to
further the work of God’s kingdom. We were especially pleased to meet Mark Hare whose
project in Haiti our congregation has supported for the last two years. Mark is working with
local groups to research the best farming methods for small subsistence plots and then teach
these methods to the local population so they may become self sufficient in their food supply.
With mission workers thick on the ground in Haiti, finding a project that offers real, lasting
benefits rather than short term solutions is an important part of any mission. We were so glad
to see that Mark’s project does indeed give people the skills they need to better their quality of
life instead of providing a band aid with no long term positive benefits.
Beyond our forays into the world of Haitian mission, we also attended a number of workshops
and enjoyed interesting conversations with people in all walks of this work. During lunch with
the Young Adult Volunteer Coordinator for Cincinnati and dinner with an evangelist from a
central Asian country who risks his liberty daily to spread God’s word to God’s people, we
were inspired by God’s faithfulness. The single message that resounds most clearly from our
time in Cincinnati is the need to view mission as the development of ongoing mutual
relationships with those in the communities we seek to serve – a time of being and not of
doing. God calls us first to simply be present with those in need and second to support them as
they find their own ways through to a better world, not imposing our own solutions but helping
to catalyze indigenous responses to local problems. Sometimes, when there is nothing we can
do, simply being present can be a powerful witness to God’s faithfulness in places of hunger,
fear, oppression and grief.
We are excited about where God will take our little church with a big mission in the months
and years to come. If you want to know more about our experiences in Cincinnati, please feel
free to contact either of us. We will gladly provide more detail or answer any questions you
may have about our time at World Mission Celebration 09.
Laura Bachmann and Susan Tarr
We were first alerted to the PC(USA) World Mission Celebration when Covenant’s Church in
the World team initiated an invitation to Haiti mission co-worker Mark Hare to pay a visit to
our congregation during the Mission Challenge preceding the conference. After National
Capital Presbytery chose a different mission couple from another part of the world for the
Washington area Mission Challenge program (and Mark Hare was assigned to a couple
churches in the Midwest), we decided the best way to learn more about Haiti missions—and
mission work in general—would be to attend this conference in Cincinnati, October 22-24.
And we were right. We each covered three workshops to double the knowledge brought back
to our congregation!
We met our first goal—to learn more about Haiti missions—by attending the pre-conference
Haiti network meeting. The gathering of about a dozen people was moderated by Pix Mahler,
PC(USA) Haiti Partnership Facilitator. In attendance were several sponsoring church
representatives (like us), two supporting foundations (the Haiti Nursing Foundation and the
Medical Benevolence Foundation), two staff members from PCUSA headquarters, and a
representative from the Farmers’ Movement of Papay (yes—the very group we support,
represented by Mark and Jenny Hare, their new baby, Keila, and Mark’s mother [doting on
Here is a sample of the information shared:
A mission video is now available on the PC(USA) website; search on
Local churches should have just received a copy of World Mission Giving
Pix Mahler intends to communicate with network members via the PC(USA) site rather
than the Crossroads site [I intend to question this since the conference itself really
promoted use of the new Crossroads site]
Presbyterian mission in Haiti is operated in partnership with the Episcopal Diocese of
Haiti (EEP), which is the major Protestant presence in Haiti
It is Pix Mahler’s responsibility to facilitate this ongoing partnership with the EEP
Haiti Nursing Foundation funds the FSIL Nursing School at Episcopal University near
Mark Hare was a mission co-worker in Haiti for one year before spending 6 years in
Nicaragua; the duration of his latest assignment in Haiti is 5 years.
In Vienna, VA, is a faith based group called the Community Coalition for Haiti, which
joins local partners to work on medical, health, environmental, agricultural and
An organization called “Joining Hands” works to build bridges between congregations
in Haiti and congregations in the US; Lionel Derenoncourt, who coordinates the
program for PC(USA), reported the following:
-JH works in 9 other countries and has expanded from PCUSA to an
- JH takes an integrated approach: development, advocacy, education, hunger
-Haiti’s government systematically evades responsibility for people’s health
- There are more missionaries per capita in Haiti than anywhere else in the world!
-30-40 years ago Haiti was self-sufficient for food!
-US policies, food giveaways (“compassion”) and Haitian mismanagement glutted the
Haiti market with food so that Haiti farmers could not compete; varieties and quantities
of food grown decreased significantly
-There is now a substantial food crisis because world prices have skyrocketed and local
farming is no longer robust
-advocacy issue: Jatropha, the latest hot new thing in Haiti — a native wild plant that is
a direct producer of biofuel, but is poisonous in all its parts; will consume the richest
farmland (owned by the government and Catholic Church) and harm peoples. (India
researched the potential effects before rejecting this plant. There is also a study by
Swiss Aid of the use of Jatropha in Mozambique.) Serena Oil Co. (CA) is pushing for
production. Jatropha is being promoted as a great crop for marginal areas but in fact
will not produce the required fruit except when grown in the most arable land and
tended carefully in the same manner as any other cash crop would require.There is a
great risk that remaining arable land will be transitioned from growing food crops to
growing the toxic Jatropha with obvious negative impact on the hunger problem in
Medical Benevolence Foundation reported that there is now good research on the
benefits of the Moringa tree (being grown in Mark Hare’s project); also, there is hope
for a rejuvenation of Hôpital St. Croix, which now provides a central location for a
children’s nutrition program and community health.
After the meeting, we were able to introduce ourselves to Mark Hare. He thanked us for our
ongoing support and mentioned a letter he had recently sent to all churches that have been
supporting his work with the Haitian farmers. We have since obtained a copy of this letter and
it has been forwarded to the Church in the World team and the Deacons board.
Branches of the Same Vine
The “Celebration” brought together an estimated 700 or so PC(USA) staff, mission co-
workers, mission local workers, US local church mission supporters, foundation and NGO
representatives and other interested parties. About half the time (from dinner on Thursday
through 3:30 pm Saturday) was spent in full-conference “plenaries” and worship, and the other
half in workshops and informal conversations with exhibitors and table companions.
The six plenary sessions were intended to give an introduction to mission and to five mission
areas of the world one hour at a time: The Americas, Middle East, Europe, Asia and the
Pacific, and Africa. It was difficult to glean much from the sketchy and sometimes abstract
presentations in these sessions—although the earnestness of the mission co-workers and local
experts was evident. The clearest presentation was that on “Asia and the Pacific” where the
topic was narrowed to education developments in Pakistan, to exemplify recent progress in one
difficult region. The good news is that Forman College (a Presbyterian college founded in 1864
and nationalized by the Pakistani government in 1972) had been returned to PC(USA) in 2003
(with the help of then-President Mushariff, a graduate of the school) and now boasts a student
body of 4,000 men and women, including 720 Christians. The story of this school was
effectively told by its president, Dr. Peter Armacost. Even more touching was the presentation
of Veeda Javaid, executive director of the Education Board of the Presbyterian Church of
Pakistan; Ms. Javaid was fervent about the contributions of the Church to the education of
Pakistani children and brought the audience to its feet in appreciation.
Each session began with a brief time of worship and song, ably led by Corey Nelson of the
First Presbyterian Church of Lake Forest, IL. The theme of the 3-day gathering was “Branches
of the Same Vine” from the passage in John 15; the emphasis in both worship and
presentations was the relatedness of Christians throughout the world and the goal of mission as
deepening those relationships. The point is that we are not sending out mission co-workers and
local church mission teams to help others; we are going to build relationships with fellow
Christians around the world to usher in together the kingdom of God.
While in Cincinnati, we attended six workshops outlined below.
Mission Trip Planning: A Guide for the 21st Century
This nuts and bolts planning guide took participants through the planning of an international
mission trip. Attendees were given a CD with excel spreadsheets created to plan and track all
parts of a trip. Laura attended the session and was disappointed that her main reason for going
(to learn about creating meaningful devotional materials for trips) was addressed in a single
sentence. Still – a useful CD to have for future planning.
Engaging Young Adults Through Mission
Laura attended this lively discussion focusing as much on what young adults don’t want
(tweaked contemporary services, “false” offerings that don’t relate to them) as what they do
want (us to reach out to them where they are – not by offering special programs in our church
buildings, but by meeting them out in the communities they inhabit; authentic worship,
meaningful opportunities to forward missions of justice and build relationships). The best way
to get a flavor for this is to visit one of several blogs the presenters recommended:
theunfetteredheart.com; tribalchurch.org; sarcasticlutheran.com; or notes-from-offcenter.com.
Moving from “Mission Friendly” into “Missional”: A Dialogue with Hunter Farrell
This was Laura’s favorite session since it featured actual prayer and a real focus on how God
calls us to act. Hunter articulated PC(USA)’s vision of the church and world mission: the
church as the gathered and sent people of God (not the provider of religious services),
reflecting the missionary nature of God; incarnational, not attractional, “Go and Be” vs. “Come
and See!”; active participants in God’s mission; measuring our impact outside the church
building. We do all this by going out and being, not putting on fancy programs or sponsoring
exotic vacations with opportunities for American voyeurism. Mission trips done right
challenge the deepest places in our hearts and open our eyes to what’s going on in our own
back yard. The mission of God isn’t a program, it’s a face and it has a name – many names!
Go and learn some of them!
Going Deeper: Conversations with International Guests and Mission Co-Workers from the
Susan attended this workshop in order to get a broader context for the situation in Haiti.
Selecting a roundtable on cultural challenges, Susan was able to learn about the dominant role
of the Catholic church in Mexico (exemplified by negative exchanges between Protestants and
the Zapatista Movement in Chiapas); the common problem of government-Catholic church
partnerships in many Latin American countries (in Haiti, Papa Doc made a break with the
Church, but the government and the Catholic Church still own most of the arable land); the mix
of indigenous customs with Christian practices in some rural areas; the morphing of “liberation
theology” into “Latin American theology” in Colombia and elsewhere (because the Catholic
church co-opted the former and redefined it); the history of Protestant mission in Latin
America, in which the countries were sorted out and assigned to different denominations to
avoid inter-denominational conflicts (which explains the dominance of the Episcopal Church in
Haiti). Mark Hare and Pix Mahler explained that the PC(USA) partnership with the Episcopal
Diocese in Haiti required that Presbyterians plant no churches in the country. That partnership
is up for its five-year review in this next year.
Mission Education in Your Church
Laurie (“LJ”) Jaworski, director of mission at Trinity United Presbyterian Church, Santa Ana,
CA, discussed her calling to mission and gathered information to share resources, which she
subsequently compiled and sent to all participants via email (available on request from Susan).
A few websites of interest are: www.missionpastor.org , http://themissionexchange.org ,
www.acmc.org/ (Advancing Churches in Mission Commitment), and
www.missionresources.com/ . For ideas about best practices in mission-focused churches,
Laurie recommended Today’s All Star Mission Churches by Tom Telford.
Think Globally, Worship Locally
This excellent workshop was led by Corey Nelson, who also conducted the opening worships
at the five plenary sessions (see above). Corey developed this one-hour instruction from a one-
week program he had recently reduced to squeeze into a weekend retreat! From a sticky-dot-
on-flipchart exercise, we concluded that different people prefer different modes of worship,
and young people don’t necessarily desire new forms of worship; they want it to be authentic
and active. So being globally-conscious and lively sometimes appeals to younger folks. But the
most important reason to bring a global reach into worship is to help the whole congregation
sense what it means to be a “global Christian,” part of the Church Universal. It also promotes
an openness to other cultures, practicing “hospitality.” Corey taught a number of songs from
other lands and demonstrated how we can set the context for them so that singing them can
bring us closer to Christian brothers and sisters in other parts of the world (e.g., by explaining
how people in Zimbabwe may walk for hours to come together on Sunday so that when they
sing repeatedly “Jesu tawa pano”—“Jesus, we are here”—it is a joyful celebration of being
together before their God). The workshop resource guide provided a globally-oriented dialogue
to be presented with the Lord’s Prayer; part of a Global Advent Candle Litany (the full text to
be supplied on request); and a Global Call to Worship (used in the opening worship for the
conference). Susan will request all 4 Sundays for the Advent candle litany and is available to
teach any of the songs, if there is interest.