In the midst of all the goings on in Dar Es Salaam, the Presiding Bishop has taken time to meet with Missionaries of the Episcopal Church working in Tanzania, hearing them talk about the work they do, and hearing from diocesan leaders about their ministries. There seems to be some internet troubles in Dar and so the ENS story has not yet made it here. The ENS story is published on World Wide Faith News, HERE. That article lists the persons present at the meeting.Scott Gunn of Inclusive Church was able to post this picture on the IC site.
Too often we forget that a primary ministry of the Primate / Presiding Bishop is to encourage people in ministry where they are, "on the ground." Our missionaries sent from are often in lonely or difficult situations. And those missionaries we have among us share much the same experience. When God and the churches call missionaries to take on ministries we have a responsibility to pay attention to them, their experiences, their hopes and their needs.
Some time ago I publishd a short powerpoint presentation on Mission. It is on the web and can be accessed HERE. In that video I recall those who are serving as appointed missionaries of the Episcopal Church by name and Volunteers for Mission and the Young Adult Service Corps by title. The people Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori met with are from those groups.
In a time of considerable tension it is also important to remember that there are other Anglican missionaries out there, many doing fine work in difficult situations. Organizations such as the Global Episcopal Mission Network have worked to develop the connections between dioceses and these missionaries both elsewhere in the world and here in the Episcopal Church. The Presiding Bishops visit with the missionaries in Tanzania is a primary example of the connections that take place throughout the church between mission sending or receiving dioceses and missionaries.
As readers of this blog know, I am opposed to what the Moderator of the Network is doing. Actually I am appalled. At the same time he too understand the great encouragement offered a missionary when his or her bishop visits. Bishop Duncan ordained a priest in Cambodia and whatever else took him to South East Asia, the fact is he took the time. I remembered that fact in the video/ powerpoint presentation.
I must confess my feelings about the Presiding Bishop's visit with the missionaries was a bit visceral. When I was a missionary in Puerto Rico and had been in Fajardo for a month or so Bishop Reus came to visit with Bishop Corrigan from the Church Center. It was an immense boost to my spirits and a real confirmation that I was not simply out there and forgotten. So I read the report of the PB's visit and thank her for taking the time.
The Presiding Bishop has done these missionaries a great service, and I hope they have done one for her as well. Meeting together has given them time to remember that at the core, it is all about "on the ground" witness and work. Read the whole of the ENS article. It is a refreshment in a dry time. The PB said, "the Anglican Communion is alive and well in this kind of partnership level on the ground. I think we need to be grounded. We need to remember what our mission is and where and how we're called to live out the gospel in this world, and you are alive and well doing that work."