INSiGHT - December 2021

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December 2021

Hope There’s a light that shines in the darkness. There’s a destiny waiting at the end of the road. There’s a meaning in the middle of this emptiness. There’s a reason you’ve been asked to carry this heavy load. Lessons are taught when we reach out Farther than we thought we’d ever dare. Faith abounds when we confront our deepest doubts, Enduring more than we dreamed we could ever bear. There’s a dawn waiting at the edge of every midnight. There’s a seed planted with every fallen leaf. With every wrong there’s a chance to make a right. With every hour of suffering there’s an eternity of relief. Our darkest moments give us the opportunity For seasons of our greatest growth. Everyday we work towards continuity Of acceptance and persistent hope. And there’s a light that shines in the darkness. There’s a star that guides the way. There’s a gate that’s open to forgiveness. There’s a shepherd who saves those who’ve gone astray.

June 2019 | 8

December 2021



52 The Landing the Valley of Dry 53 From Bones into a Playground

04 Member Church News to the Gathering 08 Greeting of CWM Former Missionaries 10 Call for a Prophetic Dialogue Pacific Region Youth 11 CWM Initiatve: Rising to Life


Tax toolkit 12 Zacchaeus launched to equip churches to

With Us 02 God Christmas Message 2021


with Jesus

tackle tax justice

VIEWPOINTS a woman in the context 19 Being of racial discourse and tension (Theology unscripted)

London 22 The Missionary Society re-producing racism and 27 Mary’s talking back rap Night’s Work 30 AandLong Empty Nets in Bold Humility” 34 “Mission - Bernard Thorogood Remembered

13 Multiple Intersections of 42 The Religion, Labour, and Class side event “Tax the rich, 14 COP26 save the planet” discussion 60 LAST PAGE centres on equity, reparations to Life: Celebrating the 15 Rising sowers and the seeds of Forty Ecumenical leaders urge G20 to take urgent climate action

years of ‘Training in Mission’

We TOGETHER lived, 16 TIM2019: loved, laughed, faced, fell, flew, sang, studied, survived.

OUR PARTNERS IN MISSION POST-COVID-19 Pastoral Care 48 Reflection and Action



God With Us

Christmas Message 2021


reetings of Peace and Joy in the name of Jesus of Nazareth from the Council for World Mission. It is my prayer that this Christmas season will fill you and your families with the hope of life even in the midst of pandemic. Advent is a season of joy and jubilance. Christmas is a festival of hope, joy, and peace that we celebrate together. How are you in this Christmas? Unfortunately, this year also, like last year, most of us cannot hold celebrations with families, friends, and communities together because the Covid-19 global pandemic continues to impact our lives even after two years. As a result, we are confronted with worry, stress, anxiety, and other emotional challenges caused by the ongoing uncertainties and instabilities. The number of infections continue to rise in many countries. The emergence of the new and more infectious Covid variants causing increased fear and anxiety among the people. The impact of prolonged lockdowns, social distancing and quarantine measures, growing financial insecurities, and lack of access to medical and social services are creating an increased emotional and psychological illness in the millions of people globally. Specific vulnerable populations like migrant workers, homeless, elderly as well as those who already have mental health conditions, are even more affected. Unfortunately, mental illness is often associated with failure, blame, shame, and stigma, and as such, affected persons rarely get the help they need. It is in this context of challenges, we prepare to celebrate Christmas this year. Christmas is a celebration of God’s manifestation in this world of darkness, suffering, and death to bring light, healing, and life. Christmas reminds us that Christ came into this world not only to set us free from spiritual bondage but from every form of bondage, including mental and emotional. Christmas reminds us that Christ came into this world to live among us (John1:14), giving us the assurance of “God with Us” (Matthew 2:23) even in the midst of the ongoing pandemic and all the chaos that it has created. Our challenge this Christmas is to remember and remind others that God revealed Godself in human form and came to us, to meet us at the point of our struggles and our search for meaning in life.


Therefore, Christmas is a celebration of “Fellowship with God.” In the world of pandemic, where we are distanced from one another, living in isolation, separated from friends, families, relatives, and co-workers, Christmas gives us assurance that the Immanuel God came down to live with us—live in fellowship with us—so that we are not alone, not isolated, and not distanced, but in fellowship with God who is “with us” always.

Therefore, “God with us” is a message of HOPE. Allan Boesak says that hope teaches us the language of life in which we articulate our deepest longings for a life of human flourishing that can lift us out of the depths of despair and empowering us to find the liberating and hope-giving God. Hope is both fragile and resilient. It is fragile when it is rooted in our vulnerabilities, but it is resilient when rooted in God's promises. Isaiah 7:14 reminds us of the promise that “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” Immanuel means “God with us.” The promise of this Christmas is that God with us, giving us strength in the place of weakness, fellowship in the place of isolation, courage in the place of fear, and life in the place of death. God is always present and reachable to us as Immanuel. Let us spread this message of hope this Christmas because hope is more contagious than covid.

Second, “God with us” is a message of JOY In this world of pandemic, joy has disappeared from the lives of many as they struggle to cope with the enormous stress and anxiety. So the question is, how can we rejoice in the midst of pain and struggle? How can we rejoice when our loved ones have departed us? How can we rejoice when our lives are filled with darkness, chaos, and uncertainties? Indeed, it is not easy to put up a smile on our face in the midst of struggle. But the promise of Christmas that “God with us” must be a reason for us to be joyful despite the challenges. The message of Angels to shepherds in Luke 2:10 says, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” This message of great joy came not for the rich and privileged but for poor shepherds who were waiting for their redemption from social, political, economic, and religious oppressions. Let us spread the joy of Gospel this Christmas because everyone deserves to be joyful. Do not be afraid to smile! As I conclude, my dear sisters and brothers, I would like to call upon each one of you to continue to uphold hope and share joy. We know that hope and joy are stronger than despair and sorrow. May this season of Christmas be a time of realizing it is never too late to hope for. May the Immanuel God be with you always.

Rev. Dr Jooseop Keum General Secretary Council for World Mission 03

AT A GLANCE | MEMBER CHURCH NEWS EAST ASIA Presbyterian Church of Myanmar (PCM)’s mask distribution campaign When the third wave of the COVID-19 hit Tahan, Kalay Town in Myanmar in June 2021, The Presbyterian Church of Myanmar (PCM) organised a public mask campaign, as many people were exhausted from buying masks and some could not afford it.

Volunteers were deployed to several locations to distribute 30,000 adult masks and 8,000 children’s masks. While giving out masks, each group used a microphone and amplified soundbox to announce and emphasize the importance of and how to wear masks.

Office staff visited the severely stricken Pinkhung Village (three kilometres from Tahan), while Theological Board staff reached out to Christian villagers in Tahan Bazar, Kalay. Mission Board staff covered Letpanchaung village in Kalay, the second 04 INSiGHT DECEMBER 2021

most populated Christian village after Tahan.

“This is the first public outreach ministry of PCM General Assembly Covid Response Committee apart from free distribution of test kits, medicines, and medical equipment such as PPE to the local Covid task forces around Kalay and Tamu Townships in August. Truly,

SOUTH ASIA Practise biblical stewardship, says Church of North India (CNI) General Secretary

Earlier this year, the Church of North India (CNI) General Secretary Rev Dennis Lall reminded church members that biblical stewardship encompasses not only monetary donations, but also responsible usage of time and other resources we have been entrusted with. In Rev Lall’s message, he noted that with good stewardship of our time, we can also discern how best to serve Christ and help other

people. Christians need to “seek first God’s reign, to orient our thinking, hopes, dreams and aspirations on the things that are from above”, which assists us in prioritising areas competing for our attention, he said. Lastly, Christ speaks to the world through his church. As stewards entrusted with the gospel message, “no congregation and no person are so small that it cannot be reached and led by the Holy Spirit,” concluded the CNI General Secretary.

The Church of South India (CSI) celebrates Platinum Jubilee The Church of South India (CSI) marked its Platinum Jubilee (75 years) with a worship ceremony earlier this year. Distinguished guests such as politicians attended the event, with the theme “Envisioning Together an Open Church in an Open World.”

Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Mr. M.K. Stalin brought greetings, where he commended CSI’s establishment of several educational institutions and hospitals as “a treasure house for the country and Tamil Nadu”. Mr Stalin also recognised CSI’s social

service activities and lauded its contribution towards the communal harmony and secularism in India, and expressed his wish that such work would continue for a long time.

PACIFIC Congregational Union of New Zealand (CUNZ)’s outreach efforts during the pandemic

During the national-wide COVID-19 lockdown, Congregational Union of New Zealand (CUNZ) supplied food parcels and cash grants to those who were hardest hit, mainly due to loss of income. They were able to tap on the CWM Gift of Grace grant, which also went towards off-setting operational costs, and health and safety expenses related to COVID-19 protocols. Beyond the monetary impact, it played a part bringing individual churches closer together in the process of solidarity as they shared experiences of the ongoing pandemic.

Kiribati Uniting Church (KUC) celebrates 164th anniversary Kiribati Uniting Church (KUC) recently held a church service at Tangintebu Theological College to commemorate 164 years of the arrival of the gospel, through missionary Rev. Dr Hiram Bingham and members of the American Board Commission Foreign Mission (ABCFM) in 1857. Later in 1870, Samoan missionaries came with a missionary from the London Missionary Society (LMS) to Southern Kiribati. A boarding school, a training institution for pastors and a printing press were established in 1900. When the ABCFM left in 1917, it entrusted all the schools and churches in Northern and Central Kiribati to the LMS. During this anniversary celebration, The Pacific Conferences of Churches (PCC) General Secretary Rev. James Bhagwan acknowledged the role of the Kiribati churches in speaking strongly to the world on issues of climate change, as he sent greetings, well wishes and prayers for the occasion.

Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand (PCANZ) Moderator’s Advent Message 2021 Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand (PCANZ) Moderator Right Rev Hamish Galloway has

released this year’s Advent Message under the dark cloud of COVID19 and the threat of climate change. Quoting Pope Francis, Rev Galloway drew attention to wars, the refugee crisis, the production and trade in weapons - other tragedies less visible than COVID19, yet affect all of humanity.

As such, he urged church members to reflect on several questions while lighting each Advent candle imbued with meaning and relevance: How do we die to ourselves and care for our neighbours with agape love? How do we maintain unity, peace and welcome to all with the schism between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated in our society and churches? Where can we find a deeper resilient joy in the Lord in such challenging times? In conclusion, he exhorted them to light the hope candle with the conviction of God’s presence and the powerful memory that Jesus’ birth points to a God who has not abandoned us. 05

CARIBBEAN The United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands (UCJCI) calls for support for Haiti relief efforts The United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands (UCJCI) has appealed to its church members to contribute to relief efforts for Haiti. Following an earthquake, Tropical Storm Grace, and the assassination of their President earlier this year, Haiti has experienced severe physical, economic and social impact.

AFRICA Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa (UPCSA)

held a virtual service on 8 November to remember those who passed away since the COVID-19 outbreak last year. During the event, they joined in prayer to remember the departed, and to heal the memories of the survivors and those who were affected and infected.

EUROPE Congregational Federation (CF) launches its first Spring School Is Christian non-conformity a thing of the past? Congregational Federation (CF)’s launch of its first Spring School next March will address this question, especially with many people in society surprised that there still is an active Congregational Federation presence in the UK.

The death toll was 2,207 with 344 missing people at the time of writing, and many are still homeless. UCJCI is planning to offer financial support to the relief efforts in Haiti through their established contacts there as part of the church’s initial response.


Aiming to encourage and challenge Christian non-conformists to play a larger part in the public life of the UK today, participants will explore distinctive values, perspectives and principles, reminding themselves of the call to radical discipleship under Jesus. They will explore elements of a Christian non-conformist voice in public life, and cover topics such as “challenging ‘empire’ is a non-conformist church’s

responsibility” and “reading the Bible as non-conformists”.

Join the Spring School from 11-13 March 2022, in Nottingham for a weekend of inspirational fellowship, interactive workshop sessions and more, led by experienced scholar-practitioners. For more information, please visit https://www.congregational.

Protestant Church in the Netherlands (PKN) organises national door to door collection for refugee children in Greece Tens of thousands of children live in tents, without clean water, sanitation and medicine – or hope - across refugee camps in Greece. Committed to combatting poverty and injustice worldwide, Kerk in Actie, the diaconal programme of the Protestant Church in the Netherlands (PKN) focuses on victims of disasters and conflicts, especially children trapped by war, poverty or exploitation.

From 22 to 27 November, it organised a national door-to-door collection for refugee children in Greece, with collectors and coordinators covering over 600 locations.

PKN Christmas ministry to seafarers

Due to the pandemic, Dutch sailors working at merchant navy ships, many of whom are Christians, were not allowed to disembark their ships after March 2020, and this isolation stretched to 15 months.

To help with the homesickness during Christmas season, packages containing a USB stick with a pre-recorded, interdenominational Christmas service, woolen hats, and a Christmas card were prepared for them.

The Council for World Mission (CWM) contributed financially through PKN’s Kerk in Actie programme, and The Dutch Seafarers Mission, active in more than 10 ports in the Netherlands brought these gifts on board for the seafarers, providing them with encouragement and moral support.

This resource gives helpful pointers to assist churches as they discern whether such hospitality would work in their particular context. Download at: wp-content/uploads/2021/1 1/The-use-of-church-buildin gs-by-people-of-other-faith-c ommunities.pdf

United Reformed Church (URC) launches new resource on church buildings In a diverse society, opportunities to engage with religious communities present themselves in various ways. One such instance is local churches are often approached by other faith communities seeking premises where they can hold worship or events. Working with colleagues from the Baptist Interfaith Working Group, the URC has produced a new booklet for local churches “The use of church buildings by people of other faith communities”. 07

GREETINGS TO THE GATHERING OF CWM FORMER MISSIONARIES During this year’s virtual thanksgiving service for CWM’s retired missionaries, our General Secretary Rev. Dr Jooseop Keum recorded a short video greeting where he recognised their vision, commitment and sacrifice in responding to God’s call.


ear brothers and sisters in Christ, I greet you as partners and colleagues in the mission of God and of our Lord Jesus Christ. I am Jooseop Keum, a child of CWM and of the ecumenical missionary movement. I am delighted to be serving as your General Secretary and I welcome this opportunity to greet you as we recognise your work in the ministry of Jesus Christ. CWM is the outcome of the vision, commitment and sacrifice of young men and women who served the missionary movements wholeheartedly, responding to the call of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, on their lives. They understood their calling to be that of sharing the good news of Jesus Christ to people around the world who had not heard the message of salvation and given an opportunity to respond.


As the missionary movement took root in places like the Pacific and Africa the missionaries started to make connections with the issues that affected people and to which the gospel spoke. As such the mission started to respond to education, health care and economic needs and wellbeing of the people in local communities. Schools and hospitals as well as business opportunities started and soon the sharing of the Gospel included responses to and engagement with social issues. Our retired missionaries are the living embodiment and expression of such vision, commitment and sacrifice. And so, it is with heartfelt gratitude that I greet you in my role as General Secretary of the Council for World Mission. As some of you will know, I once served CWM as Executive Secretary for Mission Programme. I have returned to serve the organisation as General Secretary and I will do my best to honour your legacies and to carry on the noble tradition of service to God, proclaiming the Gospel of salvation in response to the needs of humanity and all of God’s beautiful creation. On behalf of the Board of Directors, the member churches and my staff, I thank you for your labour of love and for the example of faithful service that you have been throughout your years of service on the mission field. Those of us who follow in your footsteps must learn from you and so continue the work to which you devoted the prime of your life. Of course, the issues may be different today from they were many years ago; but we must pledge the same discipline and dedication as we read the signs of time and discern the will of God. Under my leadership, we will work with our member churches "to serve the present age, our calling to fulfil". I also pledge to work to inspire and nurture the young leaders to respond to the missional impulses of their generation. Once again, I salute you for your sterling ministry. I wish you God's blessings for good health and a life of fulfilment in your retirement. I pray for you and your family, that the Lord will be your shepherd at all times and that you will lack no good thing. And I promise that the work you started will continue to flourish as we, your sons and daughters, carry the mantle forward. May God's blessings surround you each and every day and may you find peace and satisfaction in your retirement. Shalom,

Rev. Dr Jooseop Keum General Secretary Council for World Mission 09

Call for a Prophetic Dialogue The General Secretaries’ Conference of the CWM Called the Member Churches to Engage in Mission as Prophetic Dialogue in the time of the Pandemic The biennial General Secretaries’ Conference of the Council for World Mission (CWM) member churches was held on 12-13 October 2021 from 12:00 to 15:00 each day. The conference was held virtually due to the ongoing Covid-19 global pandemic. The theme of the conference was “Mission in the time of the Pandemic.” About 35 members have participated in the conference, most of which were the General Secretaries of the CWM member churches, including the CWM Moderator, Rev. Lydia Neshangwe, and CWM General Secretary, Rev. Dr Jooseop Keum, and a few staff members.

expressed that the resurrection of the Lord gives us hope and he encouraged the members to seek alternative missional engagements in the context of the new normal we are living in. He emphasized that, despite the life-threatening forces, our mission is to rise to life, confessing witness to life-flourishing communities. He further reminded the CWM Strategic Framework 2020-2029 and encouraged members to form partnerships, to embrace spiritualities upholding the promise of the Lord in John 10:10 that says, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

The conference began with opening worship and Bible study led by Rev. Lydia, who emphasised that for us to understand and do God’s mission, to do the right thing, and to fulfill our purpose; our knowledge, information, intelligence, and experiences are not enough, but we need “a discerning heart” which only God can give.

An update on the Legacies of Slavery (LoS) project was presented by Rev. Dr Peter Cruchley, Mission Secretary of Mission Development, and Rev. Dr Michael Jagessar, Mission Secretary of Europe and Caribbean, informing the members on its new direction based on the discussions during the recent Special Board of Directors Meeting. The General Secretaries also stressed the importance of addressing modern slavery and felt a great need to empower churches to resist any forms of slavery.

In his welcoming greetings, the General Secretary, Rev. Dr Keum, expressed his gratitude to all the members for their trust in handing this great responsibility of leading the CWM in this time of the world faced with numerous challenges. He also expressed his solidarity with the member churches and his heartful willingness to work together in partnership to serve the churches and equip them as life flourishing communities.

During the member church stories, particular emphasis was given to the Presbyterian Church in Myanmar (PCM), Church of Jesus Christ in Madagascar (FJKM), as they endure grave difficulties from the military coup and famine, respectively, in addition to the ongoing pandemic. The missional activities of the Union of Welsh Independents (UWI) Invited by the General Secretary, Prof. Stephen were also presented to encourage the members to Bevans, a renowned contemporary missiologist, continue to be resilient, hopeful and use the digital delivered his keynote on the theme, “Mission in the opportunities in doing the mission. The General time of Pandemic,” using a pre-recorded video. While Secretaries have solidarized with the PCM and FJKM, voicing his concerns on the challenges that the world promised their prayers and needed support, and has been facing, Prof. Bevans called upon the recognized the importance of prophetic dialogue and members for a renewed hope found through the close partnerships amid the pandemic. deeper faith in the work of the Holy Spirit. He emphasised the importance of open and genuine Over the two days, the General Secretaries have dialogue in the Church with the accompaniment of shared their experiences, stories, challenges, and the Holy Spirit. He called such dialogue ‘Prophetic concerns of their representing churches and nations. Dialogue’ and encouraged the members to engage in Even though the conference was held entirely online, mission as a prophetic dialogue to discern the will of it has facilitated productive conversations, stories of the Holy Spirit in discovering the prophetic action challenges as well as encouragement, meaningful that the church should carry on amid the pandemic. discussions, prayers, and fellowship. In his report titled, “Transformative Mission and Ecumenism in a Pandemic-Stricken World,” Rev. Dr Keum described how vulnerable we are in this pandemic-stricken world with all the inequalities, ecological disasters, socio-economic challenges, political corruptions, as well as systemic greed, and moral decadence in the world. However, he


The conference was concluded by Rev. Dr Keum’s words of thanks to the Moderator, the General Secretaries, the church representatives, and staff who have participated in the sessions, followed by the closing worship and prayer by Rev. Julie Sim.

CWM Pacific Region Youth Initiative

Rising to Life with Jesus

CWM Pacific will be holding its Youth Initiative on the theme “Rising to Life with Jesus” from 20-21 December this year. Through this webinar, two youths from each Pacific member church will explore how Christians can envision a life flourishing with possibilities and abundance. In response to the groanings of this age, CWM commits itself and calls upon its member churches and the wider ecumenical community to engage in radical discipleship, as expression of faith and witness to enable Life-Flourishing Communities. In the Pacific, an abundant life is full of relationships, peace, and riches from the sea and land. Life flourishing is about a spirit, free to roam and imagine, unbound by any doctrine, creed, culture, and law. This webinar is a space for the 20 participants to explore this spirit when speaking about their selected topic. For example, the above drawing from Maohi Nui depicts a free spirit breaking away from a dive that could have taken life down with it. Also, the event provides a forum for participants to imagine and articulate a Pacific or a world of life-flourishing by producing works of art to share with one another, and eventually, the world. The collection of Pacific artwork has begun at different levels, and this event presents an opportunity to extend this collection to youths in the Pacific churches. They are invited to tell their stories through drawings (with a short explanation), poems, and songs, chants to be recorded. An example is a poem by Dan Lin and Kathy Jetn Kijiner from the Marshall Islands about death-dealing systems such as nuclear testing.

The participants will also hear from two speakers who have been prolific in creatively putting words and thoughts into art. Visit for more background information and the programme.” 11

Zacchaeus Tax toolkit launched to equip churches to tackle tax justice Several ecumenical organisations have released a new resource - a Zacchaeus Tax toolkit to “educate and enable churches to organise around the question of tax justice”. This follows the recent “Tax the rich, save the planet” discussion organised as a COP26 side event, where they explored how a reformed, global tax and economic system can deliver equity and act on the climate crisis. The toolkit covers the theology of taxation and the Zacchaeus story, to equip and empower churches to take up the role of “encouraging national and international systems of taxation that: reward work and redistribute gains, promote gender justice and ecological sustainability, and penalise ‘public bads’ such as speculative, polluting, and resource-depleting activities”. There are practical suggestions and resources for churches to raise awareness and design a nation-wide campaign. Also included are bible studies, liturgical resources, and a reflection story for children to encourage reflection and discussion. Visit ackle-tax-justice/ to download the digital version and the print version of ZacTax toolkit, and begin to raise awareness, equip and mobilise your community to take action. The Zacchaeus Tax campaign was launched by Council for World Mission and its ecumenical partners as a side event at the United Nations (UN) High-level Political Forum in 2019. This campaign is part of the framework of the New International Financial and Economic Architecture (NIFEA) project supported by World Council of Churches (WCC), World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC), Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and World Methodist Council (WMC).


Ecumenical leaders urge G20 to take urgent climate action

In a letter to G20 leaders, heads of Christian organisations which represent half a billion Christians in over 100 countries, have called for “deep-seated transformations towards net-zero economies by the middle of the century, within a framework of justice and solidarity.” “Many of our congregations are already experiencing devastating and intensifying climate impacts and many are also responding with concrete actions and proposals. Unless a radical change is made to the current economic model, the goals of the Paris Agreement will not be met, and the climate crisis will not be averted,” stated the leaders of Council for World Mission (CWM), the World Council of Churches (WCC), Lutheran World Federation (LWF), the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC) and the World Methodist Council (WMC). Attributing the climate emergency to “the current development model and ideology that is founded upon fossil fuel-driven economic growth”, they offered five proposals in their letter to G20 leaders who are meeting ahead of the United Nations climate conference in Glasgow to deliberate on the theme of “People, Planet and Prosperity”. Among these proposals were debt cancellation for indebted, climate disaster-stricken countries as this would free up resources for them to transition to a decarbonised economy; progressive carbon and pollution taxes at various levels; and to invest heavily in climate protection and the restoration of ecosystems. “In particular, we must privilege such areas as agro-ecology, reforestation and community-based renewable energy systems in our COVID-19 recovery strategies and longer-term plans,” the letter reads. Download the full letter at 13

COP26 side event

“Tax the rich, save the planet” discussion centres on equity, reparations

Speakers of the side event, from left to right: Mariana Paoli (ChristianAid), Priya Lukka (Goldsmiths University of London), Rev David Haslam (Church Action for Tax Justice), Athena Peralta (World Council of Churches), and Rev Dr Peniel Rajkumar (USPG). Photo: Marcelo Schneider/WCC

As part of churches’ campaign for the Zacchaeus Tax as a call for repentance for excessive riches amidst endemic poverty, several ecumenical partners organised a “Tax the rich, save the planet” discussion as a side event during COP26 on 8 November.

a different world. “To be part of a different world we need repentance, redistribution and reparations,” he said. “Let us choose life so that we, and our children, and the earth, our common home may live.”

Rajkumar concluded with a question on how one can envision and embody an alternative way of life in During the session, speakers discussed how contrast to the ‘iron smelter’economy of fossil-fuel proposals from social movements for tax justice and consumption. reparations – as called for in the ecumenical Zacchaeus Tax campaign – can help realise climate Rev. David Haslam, founder of Church Action for Tax justice. In particular, they explored how a global tax Justice, which recently launched a Wealth Tax and economic system can deliver equity and make campaign, said: “The use of tax havens by the reparations for the exploitation of people and planet. wealthy must be stamped out. Salvation came to Zacchaeus when he gave back four times what he Mariana Paoli, global advocacy lead for Christian Aid, had extracted.” reflected that the tax and climate communities must work more closely together to fight for national or “There is a role for just global tax system in international tax systems to better address climate promoting ecological sustainability in a situation change. “Climate finance is essential to deliver where the planet needs both saving and there is a climate justice but it is also dependent on tax justice,” need for planet repairs”, said Priya Lukka, from the she said. "A ‘climate damages tax’ as proposed by Goldsmiths University of London. the Make Polluters Pay Campaign tax on the fossil fuel industry can accelerate the switch to renewable energy. Scaling up a just transition is key to address the climate crisis. “Carbon taxes and wealth need to be understood as an issue of equity: while the poorest 50% of the world’s population are responsible for 7% of cumulative emissions, the richest 1% alone are responsible for 15% of cumulative emissions,” said Paoli. Rev. Dr Peniel Jesudason Rufus Rajkumar, global theologian for United Society Partners in the Gospel, said the challenge for us is to choose whether we will decide to stay in this world or choose to be part of


This event was jointly organised by the World Council of Churches, Council for World Mission, Lutheran World Federation, World Communion of Reformed Churches, and World Methodist Council

Rising to Life: Celebrating the sowers and the seeds of Forty years of ‘Training in Mission’ As CWM continues to mark and give thanks for the rich contribution made by the Training in Mission (TIM) programme since 1981, we held a virtual round table gathering of some of those people who have been involved in TIM over the years. The virtual event on 28 November brought together some former participants, the staff who supported the programme and member church leaders who have valued it so highly. They looked back at some of their experiences and traced some of the impacts for them that TIM has had. This was the first in a number of events designed to celebrate TIM at 40, through which we especially hope to reconnect as many former TIM participants as possible to the continuing life of CWM. Read some of our former participants’ reflections at: 15


We TOGETHER lived, loved, laughed, faced, fell, flew, sang, studied, survived. By Jooeun Kim, TIM 2019 Participant Jooeun Kim is a Korean youth who participated in TIM 2019. The TIM2019, was an experience that she doesn't want to change with anything. She was grateful to TIM for changing her life. Without TIM2019, she wouldn't have asked "Why Not?!" and experienced "Why Now?!" throughout her life.

Hello, my friends from all over the world!

However, I strongly believed that planning my life was possible through God's guidance, not me, so I took I am Jooeun Kim, a Korean youth who courage to apply for TIM2019, leaving participated in TIM 2019. It is a great the proposals and ‘the busy Korean life’ honour to be invited, to a good behind. After graduating from graduate opportunity, and thankfully, to share my experiences and stories with you. In 2019, school, I worked until the day before going to TIM2019, and until the I was selected as a participant of the moment I boarded the plane, I didn't Training in Mission 2019. In which, I know much about myself, maybe I participated in the journey, of the didn't know much about my life. It was passionate and intensive, youth my life that was dynamic and nothing missionary training programme for 7 months. I wrote this article with gratitude was clear, so I was full of vague fear and excitement. As I boarded the plane to my motivation, Kisa, Jing, Asi, Faith, Sumon, Christopher, Timasi, Tojo, Joshua, to leave for TIM 2019, I left in doubt of my life and future. However, as I Bawibik. Also, to all of our New climbed the plane at the end of TIM Zealanders, Fijian, Korean; professors 2019, this time, I was going back, with and friends, as well as and CWM some questions and more answers. teams for guiding us on that long and precious journey. I write on TIM 2019 led me to change my behalf of the participants, but I will mainly talk about myself since I was perspective on life and a wide view of society as I was focusing on music and asked to include my personal life in the church. My perspective on the experience. world from my centre has expanded to I studied church music at the Presbyterian Korea and the world, and I have a dream for the whole world by planning Theological University and graduate my future path. "Training In Mission" is school with vocal and choir command the concept statement that I am keen as my main subjects. TIM 2019 was to share about my experience as a recommended by a missionary professor who taught me when I took missionary. Especially, when I reflect on a class called Culture and Mission in my life during my conversations with the theology department when I was people. Through “TIM2019”, I found a clear vision, which God had given me. A in college. Although it was not common for church music students mission, to no longer keep my personal faith under the wrong social system. It to take theology or missionary courses, I thought it was essential is now necessary to improve our social structure, institutions and society. for me to take this course, which will better help me to understand These are the sites which serve as a church music and development playground for a meaningful life, a life that represents the meaning and love of across different cultures. The time I applied for TIM 2019 was Christ. when I was busy preparing for my graduate school recital. At Two words that really influenced and changed me during the programme are the time, when professor told me to apply, I hesitated due to "Talanoa" and "Marginalised." my career and job offers that followed.


But without “field”, missionary, theology, music, advocacy and basically “LIFE itself” is not possible. Talanoa: Gathering, “Arrounding”, Sharing

Marginalised in TIM2019.

Marginalised: People who are alienated from mental After the programme, I wanted to stay at another and physical care. desk for studying once again. Because there are more things to reflect and learn so as to have a "Talanoa" was meaningful to me because Gathering clearer mind. But for a moment, I put everything showed another aspect of discrimination in the down, the urgency and need, for me to dedicate individualistic Korean society. There was a cultural myself to ‘field’ work, moved my feet to act and now environment that wanted to gather only with people I’m in the ‘field’. Unfortunately, the scene that came who were familiar with them, who were beneficial to out of this new experience out of a desk was more them, and who were helpful to them, and I even stagnant than I thought. Instead of changing the pursued it without doubt. However, "Talanoa," which I system, I have fallen right back into it. Jesus! I am learned and heard through TIM2019, made me "get frustrated and angry at the sad reality that I see while together" with people who were not familiar with me, working on it. But without “field”, missionary, who were not close to me, and who could not benefit theology, music, advocacy and basically “LIFE itself” from me, and through that process, I broke my is not possible. Instead of looking at the intensity of certain frame. This frame was "a frame of thought, a the waves from a far, try to swim with the creatures frame of values, a frame of understanding, a frame in the waves! of interest, a frame of action, a frame of oneself, a frame of others. " As a youth who recently completed TIM programme, what I feel while listening to the lives and stories of The second word I got through TIM 2019 is the seniors before TIM, while joining the TIM 40th "Marginalised". Before seven months of missionary Anniversary Preparation Committee, is that I hope to training, I was obsessed with my difficulties or career be able to take root in learning at Training in Mission paths rather than interest in the world and and bear fruit when it comes to 10 or 20 years later. neighbours. However, through each module of TIM I'm still looking for my way of life, in the middle of 2019, Bible study time, and Devotion time, we have 20s, but the goal I've set through TIM 2019 is to visit the opportunity to look at the church, society, and people who have lost their voices with the talent of Bible from the perspective of the Marginalised. From music that I can do and help them speak out and be then on, I started dreaming with the world and the in solidarity with them. At the end of the article, I marginalised neighbours around me. The story that share the journal I wrote in Fiji. I hope that the always appeared when sharing the situation of each learning of the moment that made my heart beat fast country with friends from 11 countries was about will be delivered to your heart. Thank you. alienated people. It's a shameful story. What I realised through the sharing of perspectives with my friends, was how ignorant I am of the surroundings, when I took it for granted, to live in the centre. During the TIM2019 programme, I reflected on myself, that I As I came to the city to have a group discussion over a cup of coffee after class, Jione asked us what we was quite aware of what was happening on the big saw. 'What did you see and think of the Bible verses streets of Korea and didn't notice any of the stories you learned this week?’ piling up in the corner. The targets of Marginalised can be, not only people, but also climate change, social structure, legal system, culture, and religion. I Because there were no windows on the Fiji bus, I could see outside in more detail, but it was people's wouldn't have asked "Why Not?!" and experienced feet that caught my eye outside the window. The feet "Why Now?!" without learning about Talanoa and of the people I saw on the bus were different. 17

Some were barefoot, some were wearing flip flops, some were wearing sneakers, and some were wearing formal shoes. Looking at their various shoes, I suddenly thought of this. How about changing shoes between this person and that person? Will it be comfortable? Or wouldn't it be comfortable? I've never worn the shoes of the Bible characters while reading the Bible. Until now, I have put great importance on Reading the Bible, so I focused on how Often I Read it. However, as I started looking at the Bible from a new angle with Jione in Module 4, under the theme of ‘Privileging Context, Decolonising scripture, Degendering God’, I started wearing various shoes.

office workers, and the people wearing factory shoes were those who worked using their bodies. However, I realised that this guess was possible only after I tried on the shoes myself. Only when I experience it in person can I understand it in a wide, deep, and diverse way. In other words, in order to be able to guess the shoe owner's mind, you have to try on his/her shoes at least once.

During this week, classes with Jione have been creative and leading classes that make us "think". The "lectures" I've heard so far and the "test" I've taken so far are "how well you accept your teacher's words and how perfectly you memorised the contents!" On the one hand, the focus was on "how much the score I receive satisfies me and satisfies my teacher." But the Some shoes were very uncomfortable, some fit better most important thing I learned at TIM2019 was "breaking the framework of thoughts that we've never than I thought, and some were very unfamiliar, but I doubted." Lectures were "conversations", and exams was satisfied. What I learned from this experience is that first, changing shoes are the fastest way to know were 100% "an opportunity to organise my thoughts." In other words, it is not a textbook reading and the mind of the shoe owner. The shoes of my memorising, but a "learning process" in which you neighbour, the shoes of the characters in the Bible, read textbooks and digest them with your own and the shoes of God. Second, my Context has limited the possibility of changing shoes and realised textbook. that I have been restricted. Third, I learned that shoes TIM2019, 7 months in 24 years of life, it was the most are not just valuable when they are shoes, but when influential seven months in a short and long life, even someone wears them, their value is revealed. though I spent time like a war where I lost 12kg due to Shoes can indicate the state of mind, and the Context body aches, language/cultural difficulties, differences to which they belong. You can reveal your values with in diet, differences in perspectives, difficulties in communication, fights with insects. It was an shoes or the social image of Context to which you experience that I didn't want to change with anything belong. Shoes can also mean a job. This may be a that I was grateful for changing me with my life, prejudice, but people wearing sneakers or flip flops seem to be students, and most barefoot people seem allowing me to face the various me intensively and fiercely inside me. to be homeless, poor, or very free. In addition, it seemed that the people wearing formal shoes were



Being a woman in the context of racial discourse and tension (Theology unscripted) Matthew 15:21-281 By Sindiso Jele, Council for World Mission

The college bible studies has taught me that gospel

of Matthew was written by a Jew to the Jewish community. Such a teaching has made me hold the belief that what is said in the pericope would not be of a second guess to the Jewish or those familiar with the Jewish socio-political ideology of those who escaped Egypt and their subsequent descendant of the Trans-Jordan settlement. When Jesus spoke, as the 1st century Palestinian Jew, he was fully aware of the grammar and its contextual meaning both political and religious.

Racism as it was then and now, affects us differently. It strives on the notion of racial supremacy, which according to some finds ordination in religio-political values, beliefs structures that sustain it. In dealing with the gender equality and equity in the context of racial discourse and tension, firstly, it must be appreciated that the patriarchy has learnt the language of the survivors. This makes advocacy complicated, the oppressor is now masked, and hermeneutics of suspicion must be employed. And calls for the hermeneutics of the naked truth to unmask the abuse. The article will also employ the Contextual Bible Study methodology, the purpose of which is to help the readers of this article to appreciate the concept of doing theology in a public space and use of grammar that is missiologically correct. West (2007) argues that the origins of the Contextual Bible Study (CBS) is in the interface between socially engaged biblical scholars, organic intellectuals, and ordinary Christian 'readers' (whether literate or not) of the Bible. Others would connect CBS with the SEE-JUDGE-ACT methodology. Both start from analysing the social situation with the aim of proposing a justice road map, calling for action and thus influence the logical direction of the article.

I will therefore look at the Matthew 15:21-28 pericope within that framework. According to Matthew the woman approaches Jesus Movement with the problem of the child, daughter to be precise, who was possessed with demons. ‘…22 A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.” The answer given by the disciples and even Jesus himself, seem to suggest to the reader that the issue was more than the demon-possessed (spiritual), or it was never about the demons at all, but was about race and economy (bread) and to be precise, who is supposed to enjoy the Yahweh supported economy. Firstly, when approached, Jesus is silent or to the extreme is not interested, as she does not belong to the lost sheep of Israel, the chosen race. Secondly, even the disciples seem to support his silence and ask him to send her away because she is making noise. Thirdly, and finally Jesus breaks his silence and 26 He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” This means that he cannot help her because she is a ‘dog’. These are racial pronouncements. Jesus as Jew knew the meaning of the word ‘dog’ especially in reference to the gentile let alone a woman.

We are no longer dogs: face to face with racism (Theology unscripted) Theology unscripted can be perceived as reactional, prompt and unplanned. However, as used and understood in this article it is a rejection of stage-managed theology, not read theology but a lived theology. The theology that is honest to the context and reflective of the community life. A rejection of theology based on the pre-conceived ideologies. According to the script the woman was supposed to accept her socio-religious status, being a gentile and woman and thus described as a dog. The scripted theology wants to make the reader believe that the woman accepted that she was a dog. However, if she had accepted, the disciples would not have been irritated. So the woman was brave to challenge the status quo and taught prejudices. 19

Malcom X would have said and I concur, “You are not to be blind with patriotism that you can’t face reality. Wrong is wrong no matter who does it or say it”(cf. Fernando 2020). The pericope in this case must not be read with patriotism to the Jesus movement but is read with hermeneutics of the liberation theologies with deliberate bias to the women and feminist theologies. Liberation theology rejects a populist view especial the one that seem to affirm oppressive positions. Her engagement with Jesus was going face to face with racist narratives, theology unscripted.

We are no longer dogs: face to face with racism A challenge to the Abrahamic narrative

An unidentified girl wears a balaclava as part of a protest (said to be) against allowing Muslim women to cover their heads while voting. The protest was organised by the Aryan Guard, a neo-Nazi group in Alberta. The protest (and a larger counter protest) was staged at City Hall in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Image by Thivierr.

‘……v9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans)…..’ There was a clear racial tension. The challenge is the spiritualisation of these racial conversations, which is a missiological scandal. The Jesus movement was challenged to deal with racial tension of their time.

Abraham narrative and Trickle-down theory. Father give us our daily breads not daily crumbs

Detroit, Michigan. Riot at the Sojourner Truth homes, a new U.S. federal housing project, caused by white neighbors' attempt to prevent Negro tenants from moving in. Sign with American flag "We want white tenants in our white community," directly opposite the housing project. Image by Siegel, Arthur S., photographer.

It must be noted that the oppressors have learnt the language of the victims2, similarly the victims must show that they have mastered the grammar of the oppressor, the exploiters. 27 “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table”, as the woman has shown in her response.

American economists Will Kent, Charles Potter and Hans Daniel Jasperson3 argue that this theory hinges on two assumptions: All members of society benefit from growth, and growth is most likely to come from those with the resources and skills to increase productive output. In addition, those need to be given finances or be blessed in order for the nations to be blessed (I add). However, it is argued that this theory is political, keeping those in the elite class economically protected. The wealthy will benefit from the constitutional blessing while the poor would always go to dining table to wait for the crumbles to fall if ever, they will fall. This theory works for those who are already wealthy and they are few, the rest would wait for the crumbs to fall from the tables. The already wealthy would continue to enjoy the government subsidy and tax cut with the understanding that from their profit they will pay their workers. Lower income earners don’t receive tax cut or subsidies.

The Abraham narrative argues that all nations would be blessed through Abraham and I disagree and the pericope we are reading does not agree. The narrative further argues that even the salvation through Jesus is linked to Abraham (cf. Matthew 1:1ff and Luke 3:23-38). The writers agree in linking the genealogy to Abraham to validate this claim. But the response that Jesus Movement gave the woman My submission therefore is that: make us re-think and re-read the chapters of the bible in the context of racial debate with special Even the Samaritans (dogs) can offer the Jews focus of Racial supremacy as ordained in the Bible. water, they do have the capacity (John 4:4ff). All of us can contribute to the mission of God The woman of Mathew 15 is not the first one to engage Jesus on Racial issues. John 4:1ff speaks of a Samaritan woman who wanted Jesus to address the issue of racism also.


The waiting for the crumbs that fall from the table of the Children of Abraham. The article rejects this type of Abrahamic blessing narrative. This narrative puts other races as children of a lesser God. It is against the teaching of Jesus of Nazareth. Matthew 6:9-13 ‘…11 Give us today our daily bread…’ It clearly rejects any economic crumbs The women have never been shy to engage Jesus on issues of racism (cf John 4:1ff, Matthew 15:21ff). Being a woman in the racial discourse and tension means that one still has to deal with the patriarchy that has behaved like the gatekeeper to liberation and or salvation. Being a woman in the racial discourse represents the mission from the margins to the centre. When the margins come to the centre, there is resistance from those who benefit from those unjust tendencies. The centre changes its shape and creates more centres Finally, racism is not race blind; it is specific on the target. The Jews of the first century Palestine were not hostile to all the races; it was specific to the Canaanites. So is the question of Xenophobia in Africa. It will not attack any foreigner, but will only attack the black foreigners. Racism is race specific in terms of its target.

Woman holding a protest sign with the sayings: "Stop pretending your racism is Patriotism". Photos taken at the Stand Up to Racism march and rally in London. Photo by Garry Knight.

Conclusion: A call to break the glass-theological ceiling The discourse on racial supremacy seem to either locate the content on male experience or generalise supposing that men and women experience racism the same way. Such thinking affirms the failures of the Trans-Jordan exodus motifs and the black liberation theologies. They failed to pick the face in the crowd, the face of a woman struggling with both racism and patriarchy. Even in the trans-Jordan theologies and the celebrated post-colonial theologies, the women still argue that we refuse to be dogs and they pray….’Father give us our daily bread not daily crumbs that fall from the tables of Abraham(s).


This article would be published later as a chapter in our projects on racial supremacy (CWM Africa)


The user of the word ‘victim’ in Gender related valences and abuses has been challenged as not politically correct. The preferred word in advocacy is ‘survivor’


References Fernando, J.L. 2020 (ed). Resistance to Empire and militarization: Reclaiming the sacred. Equinox, Sheffield. (UK) 21

The London Missionary Society By Dr Peter E. Lewis Dr Peter Lewis is a research associate with the Centre for Coins, Culture and Religious History Foundation. It is a special ministry of St John's Anglican Cathedral in Brisbane. The website of the Foundation is

Beach at Tahiti. (Wikimedia Commons. Photo by Peioman)


very month Rod Sell kindly conducts an online auction for members of the Australian Numismatic Society. In Auction 44 I was the highest bidder for Lot 13, which was a medallion commemorating the centenary of the London Missionary Society. (Figure 1) It is a beautiful medallion and it motivated me to learn more about the society. Figure 1 – Medallion celebrating the centenary of the London Missionary Society in 1895. It is white metal and 45 mms in diameter. (Author’s Collection)

The London Missionary Society (LMS) was founded in 1795, but it was not the first organisation to send missionaries to remote parts of the world. In the 16th and 17th centuries Jesuit missionaries went to various places including China and Japan. (Figure 2) Two Church of England societies, the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (1699) and the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (1701), worked among the natives in North America and elsewhere. In more modern times the first British missionary society was the Baptist Missionary Society which was formed in 1792 at a meeting of 12 Baptist ministers in Kettering, a town 83 miles north of London.

Figure 2 – Alexander Valignano was a Jesuit priest who went to China and Japan in the 16th century. This portrait comes from a 16th century book. (Wikimedia Commons)

Figure 3 – Medallion celebrating the centenary of the Baptist Missionary Society in 1892. It is white metal and 45 mms in Diameter. (Author’s Collection)


Recently I was fortunate to obtain the medallion issued by the Baptist Missionary Society for their centenary in 1892. (Figure 3) The house at Kettering is on the obverse, and in the centre of the reverse there is a radiant open Bible surrounded by four circular pictures. The top picture is labelled ‘Africa’ and shows a small steamship presumably on Lake Victoria. On the left is ‘India’ with a mosque, and on the right ‘China’ with a British ship sailing past a pagoda. The bottom picture refers to slavery and shows a chain and a nasty- looking whip with the words ‘West Indies’ and ‘emancipation’. Around the edge of the reverse are four surnames.

Andrew Fuller was the secretary of the Baptist Missionary Society from 1792 to 1815. William Carey was commissioned by the society and arrived in Calcutta in 1793, but the East India Company did not want missionaries in their territories and in 1800 he moved to the Danish colony of Serampore. (Figure 4) By 1809 he had translated the whole Bible into Bengali. Joshua Marshman and William Ward also went to India and worked with Carey.

Figure 4 – Silver coin (2 royaliner) minted at Tranquebar in India for the Danish colonies. Diameter 12 mms. On the obverse C7 stands for Christian VII. On the reverse are the Danish coat-of-arms, 2 ROYALINER and the date 1796. (Classical Numismatic Group, Electronic Auction 408, Lot 641)

Figure 5 – The missionary ship ‘Duff’. (Wikimedia Commons)

Figure 6 – Duff arriving at Tahiti. (Wikimedia Commons)

Figure 7 – The French privateer, Buonaparte, captures the Duff in moonlight near Montevideo. (Engraving in ‘Missionary Ships connected with the London Missionary Society’ by Ebenezer Prout, 1865).

The LMS was formed in 1795 and mostly involved Congregationalists but included members of other Protestant denominations as well as evangelical Anglicans. In 1794 William Carey in Calcutta wrote a letter to a Baptist minister in England stressing the need to spread Christianity and he suggested that a non-denominational effort be made. Various influential people be- came interested and the new missionary society became a reality. Its stated aim was “to send God’s saving light and truth to every dark land; to preach Christ crucified to a guilty world; to lift the millions of the heathen, sunk in superstition and sin, out of gross ignorance, wretchedness and despair, into the bright daylight of Divine revelation.” The initial focus of the LMS was on Oceania (the islands in the Pacific). A sea captain, James Wilson, offered to take missionaries to Tahiti free of charge, providing the LMS gave him a vessel. So the society bought the ship ‘Duff’, which could carry 30 missionaries and 18 crew. (Figure 5) In 1796, seven months after leaving England, the Duff arrived in Tahiti (Figure 6) but the natives were unfriendly and only nine missionaries decided to re- main on the island. Missionaries were left on other islands before the Duff returned to England. Then it was sent again to the Pacific with 30 missionaries, but unfortunately when it was in the South Atlantic it was captured by a French privateer, an armed vessel privately owned but authorised to capture enemy ships. (Figure 7) The privateer unloaded its prisoners at Montevideo and sold the Duff. The cost of all this was devastating financially for the LMS but it gradually recovered and was determined to continue its mission to spread the gospel even to the remotest parts of the world. The Duff appears on the obverse of the centenary medallion in Figure 1. It is a wonderful example of the die-en- graver’s skill: Duff’s sails billow out and her flag waves in the wind, and if you look too long at the sea you might feel seasick! On the reverse there are four missionary scenes surrounded by the words New Guinea, West Indies, China, South Seas, Africa, India, Madagascar and Mongolia. In the scene at the top left four Christians are being burnt alive in Madagascar while a native on the right pokes at them with a spear. It is horrible, but the Christians are shown in a prayerful attitude. In the scene at the top right a man is being hanged while natives dance in the foreground. He is probably John Smith who was hanged in British Guiana in 1824. In the scene at the bottom left a missionary preaches from a covered wagon in South Africa while in the foreground natives sit around a fire. In the scene at the bottom right Chinese men prostrate themselves before an idol. 23

Figure 8 – Celebrating the Festival of the Coming of the Light in the Torres Strait Islands. (Photo by kind permission of Cathy

In 1807 the LMS sent Robert Morrison, a Presbyterian preacher, to China. He worked in Macau and Canton (Guangzhou) and pioneered the translation of the Bible into Chinese. He spent 27 years in China and made a lasting impact on that country. In 1817 the LMS sent John Williams and his wife to the Society Islands, a group of islands in the Pacific that included Tahiti. Based on the island of Raiatea, just north-west of Tahiti, John visited many Polynesian islands, and was successful in converting a number of natives who were then able to spread the gospel to other Pacific islands. In 1871 some converts from the Pacific came to islands in the Torres Strait with the LMS missionary, Samuel Macfarlane, and were very successful there. Every year, on 1st July, the people of the Torres Strait celebrate the Festival of the Coming of the Light, which recognizes their acceptance of Christianity. (Figure 8) This year was the 150th anniversary. LMS missionaries also worked with Australian aborigines as mentioned in the book, The Bible in Australia: A Cultural History, by Dr Meredith Lake. In 1834 John Williams returned to England to supervise the printing of his translation of the New Testament into the language of Rarotonga. In 1837 he was again in the Pacific, and in 1839 he visited Eromanga in Vanuatu. With another missionary, James Harris, he was killed and eaten. (Figure 9) In 2009 in a moving ceremony on the island the descendants of John Williams accepted the apologies of the descendants of the cannibals.

Figure 3 – Medallion celebrating the centenary of the Baptist Missionary Society in 1892. It is white metal and 45 mms in Diameter. (Author’s Collection)

Figure 3 – Medallion celebrating the centenary of the Baptist Missionary Society in 1892. It is white metal and 45 mms in Diameter. (Author’s Collection)

Figure 3 – Medallion celebrating the centenary of the Baptist Missionary Society in 1892. It is white metal and 45 mms in Diameter. (Author’s Collection)


To honour John Williams the LMS named all their missionary ships after him, and a medallion was struck showing the first ship launched in 1844. (Figure 10) An engraving in the book, Missionary Ships connected with the London Missionary Society, shows the first ‘John Williams’ sailing up the Thames River to be fitted out. (Figure 11) Sadly it was wrecked on a reef at Pukapuka Atoll in the Cook Islands in 1864, but the passengers and crew survived. The LMS operated six more missionary ships, the last being decommissioned in 1968. As explained on the reverse of the medallion in Figure 10 the ships were funded by donations from children, an amazing testimony to the strength of Christianity in Victorian Britain. At the Annual Public Meeting of the LMS in 1837 the society’s operations were reported, and among the speakers were missionaries from Africa, America, India and China.

The society had 428 stations staffed by 114 missionaries and 482 assistants who supervised 84 churches and operated schools with 34,222 students. Expenditure for the year totalled £63,160. The society was proud of its achievement and in 1844 issued bronze medallions to celebrate its jubilee. (Figure 12) The most famous LMS missionary was Dr David Livingstone. His achievements were an inspiration to Christians all over the world and many medallions were struck in his honour. (Figure 13) Born in Scotland in 1813 he was one of 7 children to poor working-class parents. They all lived in a single room in a building for workers in a factory. At age 10 he went to work in a cotton mill. When he was 21 there was an appeal by the churches for medical missionaries and David responded by studying medicine. At age 25 he was accepted by the LMS and went to Africa where he explored much of the country. He was appalled by the slave trade and became a fervent anti-slavery advocate. He discovered Victoria Falls, was mauled by a lion and thought to be lost, but an American newspaper reporter, Henry Stanley, went to find him. Eventually the two met in the heart of Africa and Stanley spoke the immortal words, “Dr Livingstone, I presume?” Livingstone was ill and died in Zambia in 1873. His African servants buried his heart and carried his embalmed body for nine months to the coast. In Britain he had become a national hero and after a great Victorian funeral (Figure 14) his body was buried in Westminster Abbey. He had been very influential in causing the abolition of slavery, and in 1981 to remind people of Livingstone and the horrors of the slave trade, a Scottish bank issued a £10 note with three negro slaves on the reverse. (Figure 15) See how cruelly the slave on the right is shackled. Be appalled as Livingstone was, and recognize the potential for evil in human beings; and when you visit Westminster Abbey and stand before the grave of David Livingstone, bow your head in reverence.

Figure 12 – Bronze medallion celebrating the jubilee of the London Missionary Society in 1844. Diameter 61 mms. (Stephen Album Rare Coins, Auction 30, Lot 1230)

Figure 13 – Bronze medallion in honour of David Livingstone made by the sculptor Nu- midico in Portugal in 1977. Diameter 68 mms. (Author’s Collection)

Figure 14 – Funeral of David Livingstone in Westminster Abbey. He was buried in the centre of the nave with a wreath given by Queen Victoria. (Wikimedia Commons)

Figure 15 – Banknote issued by the Clydesdale Bank in 1981. (Author’s Collection) 25

In 1805 in South Africa a town was established by LMS missionary, William Anderson, for people known as the Griqua. They were a mixed group of people who had resulted from sexual relationships between European men and native women. The town was originally called Klaarwater, but when it was visited in 1813 by John Campbell, a director of the LMS, he suggested that the name be changed to Griquatown. Because the people were traders he said there should be a separate coinage for the Griqua district. There is an account of these coins on page 945 of Standard Catalogue of World Coins, 1801-1900, by Krause and Mishler. They are called missionary tokens and they are South Africa’s first autonomous coinage, but it is unknown to what extent they circulated. There are four denominations, two in copper and two in silver. (Figures 16, 17, 18 and 19)

Figure 16 – Griquatown copper quarter penny. Diameter 21 mms. (Wikimedia Commons. Image by Derick Rabe)

Figure 17 – Griquatown copper half penny. Diameter 25 mms. (Wikimedia Commons. Image by Derick Rabe)

Figure 19 – Griquatown silver 10 pence. Diameter 26 mms. (Wikimedia Commons. Image by Derick Rabe)

Figure 20 – Aluminium medallion issued by the Church Missionary Society to celebrate its centenary in 1899. Diameter 38 mms. (Author’s Collection)

Figure 21– Silver $10 coin issued by the Solomon Islands in 2009. (Author’s Collection)


Figure 18 – Griquatown silver 5 pence. Diameter 21 mms. (Wikimedia Commons. Image by Derick Rabe)

In 1799 the Society for Missions to Africa and the East was formed apart from the LMS. It became the Church Missionary Society (CMS). In 1899 a medallion was issued for the centenary of the CMS. It shows a missionary preaching to men representing various races. (Figure 20). The CMS continues to do missionary work in various parts of the world. In 1966 the LMS merged with the Commonwealth Missionary Society and eventually became the Council for World Mission. The LMS accomplished its mission of taking the Gospel to all parts of the world, and its missionaries, who often lost their lives in this work, should not be forgotten. On a coin issued in 2009 by the Solomon Islands (Figure 21) the Duff sails away into the distance, having taken the first LMS missionaries to islands in the Pacific Ocean. The Christian faith remains strong in that part of the world.

re-producing racism and Mary’s talking back rap By Michael Jagessar (Council for World Mission)

locating my reflection For this issue of INSiGHT, I was asked to do a sort of year-end reflection as a mission secretary with responsibility for two CWM regions (Caribbean and Europe). My tasks also include facilitating (with a great team of colleagues) the cutting-edge, challenging, and relevant work of eDARE. What to write about? Should I (a greying privileged heterosexual male) focus on the many Breastfeeding God. Via exciting things happening across the regions and in the life of the member churches in spite of the pandemic? Or would it be better to reflect on the ways our online life has created an array of exciting conversation openings, opportunities for newer voices, greater cross-regional and ecumenical engagement, and much more? Perhaps, the excitement and refreshing insights from the recent engagement and encounter of poets, artists and theologians through eDARE webinars would be just ideal? Or how about a focus on regional struggles and challenges of COVID 19, revealing the many intersecting and endemic inequities which CWM and its member churches continue to highlight, chant down, and take on?

portal – an apt metaphor The Spirit, though, is full of surprises. She dragged me in the direction of the familiar in the advent and Christmas stories we have grown so accustomed to and prodded me to look again at the very familiar in the stories we reel out for a clue on an urgent theme. For both the Caribbean and Europe regions, looking back in 2021 and looking forward to 2022 and beyond, Arundhati Roy’s apt descriptor of the pandemic as a portal “as a gateway between one world and the next” continues to spin around me like a nervous parent awaiting the birth of their first child. I felt as if I was sucked up and thrown into, and floating in, like a new-born baby. In caustic and prophetic fashion Roy wrote: “We can choose to walk through it [portal], dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.” Churches and communities in both regions would do well to continue to heed Roy’s insight given current existential realities. So, with my feet now touching ground but still on an imaginative journey through that portal, my 2021 ‘unending’ reflections take me into the uncomfortable space of gender justice and racism as I strain to imagine a new world with a very familiar figure of the advent and Christmas story, Mary. Her story of womb, birthing, breastfeeding her infant, a dazed fiancé, her radical rap (named as Magnificat) is located in the midst of occupation, empire/state control (Augustus and his governor Quirinius), patriarchal control, headcounts, women represented as producers, and much more. A baby stirs or swims in her womb, later clinging to her breast, yet somehow, we have turned the blood, sweat and tears of her life, through artistic depictions, songs, liturgies and theologies into a layered story that has lost its edge. Over the centuries we have ended up with an ‘air-brushed Mary of L’Oréal’ without traces of toughness, resilience and that revolutionary spirit rapping against the empire’s occupation (political, economic, religious, and patriarchal to name a few) 27

body-gender politics, reproduction and racism One of my former teaching colleagues (Professor Nicola Slee) invited us years ago to imagine what it would have been like had Mary given birth to a girl child, contrary to the design of Holy Spirit. Readers may wish to contemplate this as we consider the increase of gender-based violence especially to young girls. Would a girl-child saviour have made a difference to the ways we treat the bodies of women within and across regions? I even wonder, in spite of what the gospel accounts and ecclesial traditions tell us, had the option been given to Mary to decide the terms of engagement, with her body as the carrier of the hope of her nation, what would her response have been [Luke 1:30]? I pose this latter question in the contexts of newer forms of political and popular racism, in nationalist discourses that are taking exclusionary intentional shape as a result of perceived demographic threats from migrants (and refugees), especially women. Here I am very grateful for, and wish to draw on, the very enlightening essay of Sophia Siddiqui: “Racing the nation: towards a theory of reproductive racism” (Race and Class, Oct-Dec, 2021 63/2, pp.3-20). Siddiqui writes: “There is a pattern and consistency that situates women now at the nexus of both defining the nation and also maintaining it, while excluding those who do not conform. With multiple crises in neoliberalism – including the gradual destruction of the welfare state, forced displacement that leads to mass migrations, and in democracy itself – society is being restructured around exclusion. Exclusionary strategies demarcate the productive and unproductive, the valuable and non-valuable, those that bolster the nation and those that threaten it – and this has particular gendered and racial implications for those who are non-white, non-mainstream, non-citizen. And importantly, it implicates women not just in their role as workers, but, in their ideological and reproductive roles too.” [Siddiqui 2021:4]

While Siddiqui’s focus is Europe, her insights are relevant for contexts shaped by our current model of neoliberal capitalism, especially where the so-called authentic established population is on the decline. So, for instance, in some European countries ‘native’ women’s reproductive capacities are being incentivized for nationalist ends (what is termed the birth-rate agenda) and the protection of the ‘purity’ of the nation and the threat of its shrinking authentic population. Meanwhile, on the other hand minority migrant women’s rights to have children and family are being curtailed while their labour is exploited to care for the children, young, sick, and elderly of these nations. In these nations, where migrant women become surrogate carers and parents, these women are also slapped with restrictions around their choice of/for a similar family life. While their services are critical for the traditional capitalist model of the family, they are also perceived as a threat to the purity of the nation. What Siddiqui highlights for all of us is how our current capitalist model feeds on the unending production of good and services (growing ad infinitum) and cannot be separated from the reproduction of bodies. Thus, the ongoing exploitation of women bodies for a largely male-patriarchal nationalist vision of society with women’s role being that of the ‘womb of the nation’ (to replenish the purity of a restrictive view of the nation), with eugenics overtones and misogynist notions of the role of women.[5] CWM’s collaborative work in the areas of racial, gender and economic justice has revealed and underscored how the neoliberal capitalist model feeds on the continuous production of goods and services, growth ad infinitum.

Stories are replete around demonising the ‘other’ across Europe and elsewhere, with the ‘other’ taking a variety of forms from Black and Indigenous peoples, to the poor working class, to migrant women, to the disabled, to LGBTQ communities, to Muslims and many others. Siddiqui’s analysis flags us the resurgence of an intentional demographic attack on ‘reproductive capacities’ on especially migrant women and LGBTQ communities which she names as ‘reproductive racism’. Mary Punching Beast. Artwork by Benjamin Wildflower. Via


Siddiqui’s contention is that this should not be separated from the reproduction of people and the links to the politics of bodies, gender, class and racism. The implications of what Siddiqui names as ‘reproductive racism’ are enormous. This form of racism linked to our current economic model “controls, restricts and exploits reproductive capacities” as the bodies of women are used “as conduits for the production of national identity, while propelling conspiracy theories of a demographic takeover – with violent consequences for those constructed as a threat”. So, the system and its immigration laws prey upon migrant women to ensure the capitalist leviathan is fed with ‘cheap, precarious, and hyper-exploitable’ [12] labour, while restricting the ability of these women to delight in their family lives. A similar case can be made for poor working class white women and Black British and Minority Ethnic women.] Sophia Siddiqui is correct in observing that reproductive racism has implications “for all women, racialised communities and anyone who does not fit into the heteronormative mould of the nuclear family, including trans and queer people”.[15] Gender justice must demonstrate a solidarity that recognises that race, economics/capitalism and gender justice are indivisible in contending with the ‘shitstems’. In other words: “Any feminism that does not address racism and capitalism cannot bring about systemic change, and likewise an anti-racism that excludes issues around gender and reproduction will be limited in scope. Once we recognise this, we can build towards an anti-racist feminism, which holds the potential to disrupt and transform the current social order.” [Siddiqui 2021: 16]

back to the child-mother: legacies and Mary’s Magnificat Rap Legacies are not that which happened in some historical past or has to do only with past events. We carry them into the present, as Arundhati Roy hints. They can be releasing or they can perpetuate continuing restrictive behaviour and enslavement. So, current tendencies towards an ‘air-brushed Mary of L’Oréal’ may not necessarily be some coincidence. Nor is the fact that the image of a nursing child at its mother’s breast as a symbol of salvation (love, care, life, release, freedom) being taken over by the macho symbol of cross and crucifixion without consequences. Liturgically, ecclesial communities may be nearer to the Divine with having more ‘nursing stations’ than ‘stations of the cross’. I wonder what those early Church male theologians such as Clement of Alexandria, Augustine, Anselm and Bernard of Clairvaux had in mind picturing sustenance of the faithful as coming from God’s breasts? With so much violence of all sorts around us, can the image of a nursing mother chanting down and raging against ‘the mighty’ speak more powerfully of God’s radical and revolutionary love? Yes, this very young peasant girl, herself knocked up by empire, patriarchy and religion is chanting not about some mere past and some far-removed future vision. Perhaps her rap or chant is an invitation to journey through current endemic portals to inhabit the present of God’s work of disrupting, overthrowing and transforming the current capitalist, racist and patriarchal social order which continue to knock up, knock around and knock out while we pontificate. Among the lines of John Lennon’s Imagine is “you may say I’m a dreamer” which the singer goes on to qualify, “but I’m not the only one”. I find this, like Jesus’ Hill-Top Sermon, as a call to consider what we are often not even allow to consider. And I am not alone nor are you. My invitation (beyond the two CWM regions I accompany) is a call for us together to do something more than just talk (blah-blah-blah) about gender, sexual, economic, racial, disability and climate justice. As Jamaicans say: ‘time come’. What witness will we bear to and in the name of Mary and her child?

Syrian refugee Burooq Al Zubi, 21, breastfeeds her nine-month-old son Fares at Al Zaatari refugee camp in the Jordanian city of Mafraq. REUTERS/Mohammed Hamed. 29

A Long Night’s Work and Empty Nets By Rev. Casi M. Jones, The Union of Welsh Independents (UWI) The Rev. Casi M. Jones is an ordained minister with UWI and is currently the pastor of Emaus Church in Bangor, north Wales. Emaus is a new, interdenominational church, comprising of two former churches, Pendref (UWI) and Penuel (BUW). Her late husband, Lloyd, was an Anglican priest in the Bangor diocese of the Church in Wales. They have two sons: Dafydd Mackenzie and Tomos Llwyd.


arlier this year, I was invited to lead a bible study for ministers and leaders of the Baptist Union of Wales and to preach in the AGM of Undeb yr Annibynwyr Cymraeg (The Union of Welsh Independents) and managed to do both from the comfort of my own home. Preparing for these Zoom meetings inspired me to look again at one of my favourite resurrection stories from St John’s Gospel, chapter 21:1–14 and this in turn became a way of reflecting on this strange new parallel universe we were flung into back in the spring of 2020. We join the disciples as they decide to go fishing, and hear that they worked hard all night but caught nothing. The disciples’ frustration resonates with us as ministers and churches as we look back on a very strange eighteen months of cancelled services and silent buildings. Even when we tentatively ventured back to worship together, with masks, sitting two metres apart, and for a while we weren’t allowed to The Revd Casi Jones (centre) with Elain Edwards and Morgan Sion on Easter Sunday 2020 sing. It may sound like a cliché but as Welsh when they became the newest members of the church at Emaus, Bangor. Christians, not being able to sing hymns has been really hard for us. If doing without our buildings was a challenge, moving back to our buildings has been even more of a challenge. We’ve had to keep abreast of the constant changes in the legislation and this has meant the constant creating and amending of risk assessments. No wonder many of us are now feeling tired and anxious. As they head for the shore, the disciples see a stranger on the beach who invites them to share their story with him. It’s the Lord but they don’t recognise him. Exhausted, and totally fed up they don’t recognise him even though they’ve travelled miles with him and shared meals with him over a period of several years. As we look back over the months since the beginning of the first lockdown in the spring of 2020 we remember the devastating loss of lives. We as a family lost a dear husband and father suddenly and unexpectedly at a time when we couldn’t gather with friends or give and receive hugs. Even those who didn’t lose loved ones will remember the anguish of months spent apart from family members and friends and the disruption to the pattern of our everyday life. Many businesses struggled and many jobs were lost. As we look back over the last eighteen months, it would be so easy to see nothing but empty nets and fail to see Jesus at work, and fail to recognize his presence in our own trials and tribulations let alone in the wider narrative. But he was at work and is still at work if only we are willing to pause for a minute, to look up and recognise him. Where might we discern Jesus at work in his Church over the last eighteen months? As we review our own story we should be aware that not everyone has travelled the same road. Some churches here in Wales have taken the difficult decision to close forever while others feel stronger and have managed to reach new people. Many like us will feel that there have been both gains and losses along the way.


Jesus has promised never to leave us but will need to open our eyes to the truth that he has been at work through his Church and through movements and trends in the world around us. The Miraculous Draft of Fishes. Artist: Raphael (1483–1520).. Image taken by M.chohan.

After a long night’s work and empty nets, the last thing the disciples expected was a bumper catch of fish. Tired and a little fed up, we could be tempted to give up after the struggles of the past eighteen months, but instead we should be expecting great things from the Lord, gains that have nothing at all to do with how we feel or what we have left to give but has all to do with Jesus being Lord. We know that Jesus has promised never to leave us but will need to open our eyes to the truth that he has been at work through his Church and through movements and trends in the world around us. Just as we thought that everything had ground to a halt, Jesus was in fact at work in new and unexpected ways. With hindsight we are able to sense where he’s been at work, a bit like deducing that a young child has been in a room when we find traces of glitter. Might I suggest several ways the Church has experienced Christ at work during the pandemic? Though I’m sure you may be able to think of many more:

Doing things differently Jesus invites his disciples to have another go at fishing, but suggests they try doing it in a different way and they manage to land a bumper catch of fish. Since the beginning of the pandemic, as leaders and churches we’ve had no choice but to do things differently. We found ourselves thrown into a completely new ball game that meant implementing changes that were often long overdue. We had to improvise and experiment, and do things in ways that we might not have been comfortable with in the past and yet this often brought a spontaneity to what we were doing. Difficult though life has been, we have to admit that in recent months we’ve felt more purposeful and alive as churches than we have for many years and have been more prepared to listen to our church members than before, and have learnt to cater for different needs rather than offering a ‘one size fits all’ service.

Shifting our focus Over the last eighteen months, we’ve seen a total shift of focus in our churches from the chapel building to people’s homes. Some churches saw more people in Zoom services than they had seen in the chapel for years. Others have sensed more interest in spiritual matters from those who would normally have considered themselves at the margins of church life. It became more apparent to all of us, even to church leaders (who ought to know better), that the main focus of our Christian faith should be our everyday lives rather than our buildings. Instead of deciding whether or not to ‘go to Chapel’ there is more of an idea that people have a responsibility to nurture their own spiritual lives and to choose how they can best receive sustenance – perhaps by joining a service on zoom or reading devotional material at home, tuning in to television and radio broadcasts or following a live streamed service on Facebook. 31

Engaging with each other In our church in Emaus, Bangor we have found it quite a challenge to keep in contact with our membership but this effort to communicate, has in itself made us feel more like a family than before. Back in the early days of Nonconformity in Wales our mothers and fathers in the faith had to meet secretly to worship in times of persecution and in better times they started ‘causes’ and built chapels from scratch. These adventures of faith must have really brought them together and bonded them. And although today many things around us seem weakened by the pandemic, the fellowship in our churches may well have become stronger because of our common journey through hard times.

From shyness to sharing Like many other churches, we have a monthly newsletter to share information about up and coming events and services and church members can share news and stories. During the pandemic I was surprised by how keen our members were to share their memories and interests, how keen they were to send in beautiful pictures of their gardens and visiting wildlife. This new openness in people who might have counted themselves fairly reserved seems to me a true, though hidden, sign of Jesus at work.

Costly giving Supporting various charities and fundraising activities has always been an integral part of our church life but as soon as we ceased to meet face to face and were discouraged from taking collections this became a real challenge as it did for many other churches. Just at a time when those in need were forced into even worse financial difficulties, donating money and food became more of a challenge for us. But many individuals and churches carried on supporting food banks and sending aid overseas, showing Christ’s care and compassion for the weakest and most vulnerable in a costly way. But we shouldn’t think that Christ’s work is limited to the efforts of individual Christians and Churches. Over the past eighteen months, we’ve seen movements and trends in society amongst people of different faiths or no faith that show God’s Kingdom breaking in to people’s everyday lives and changing them. I would like to suggest a few recent trends and public debates where we might have glimpsed Christ at work, though again, you may be able to think of many more:

A change of heart We’ve seen many people talking about and showing a certain change of heart during lockdown. One of Jesus’s first sermons was a call for people to repent, to start thinking in a new way, to listen to God’s priorities and act upon them. I’m not suggesting that


One of Jesus’s first sermons was a call for people to repent, to start thinking in a new way, to listen to God’s priorities and act upon them. we’ve seen a great shift towards Christianity in recent months but many people seem to have felt challenged to take a good hard look at their lives. Many have spoken of their regret about taking their family and friends for granted in the past, of having been too busy to appreciate the simple things in life like homemade food and birdsong. Some have admitted that they haven’t given time to think what life is really all about and many have decided to live more thoughtful and caring lives from now on.

Challenging injustice During the last two years, we’ve also seen injustice in our society challenged in a new way, a true sign of the emerging kingdom of God in our midst. We were all called to repent of the way that Black lives haven’t mattered to us and we were forced to face up to the truth that girls and women still suffer sexual harassment in the workplace and that many live in constant fear of being attacked on their way home. And even though our planet enjoyed a temporary kind of Sabbath due to lockdown, we’ve been forced to admit the damage we as human beings have inflicted on our planet over the last centuries and the need for a total change of mind, heart and lifestyle, a real metanoia, in order to safeguard our common home and the most vulnerable communities on earth.

Talking openly about love These days we notice that many people who would be reticent to show any public expression of emotion have taken to miming hugs and blowing kisses as they social distance. (I’m sure that many of you reading this will wince at the thought of this kind of behaviour and would like the two metre rule to stay in place long after the pandemic!) When Jesus taught his disciples in a small group and when he preached to the masses, he was never shy of talking about love and encouraging his listeners to love each other and care for each other. Since the beginning of the pandemic we’ve seen some people beginning to lower their defences for the first time, greeting strangers, encouraging them to ‘stay safe’ and have offered to help neighbours and people in need they scarcely knew before. Paul speaks of Christ as one who has come to break down barriers between different groups, creating one new humanity from diverse and often opposing groups. And in a way, we’ve caught a glimpse of this, however fleeting and transient it may prove to be, as we begin to move towards a post pandemic society that may be tempted back to its old self-centered way of living.

Looking at our inner life

learn not to allow our lives to be poisoned by envy and greed. Even though it may not seem to be expressed in a religious context, we do hear much more talk nowadays about mental health problems. People are encouraged to express their feelings as the first step on the way to freedom from anxiety, fear and loneliness. This quest for healing and wholeness among people of faith and those of no particular faith is surely a sign of God’s kingdom of healing and wholeness at work.

Costly sacrifice Arguably the most central theme of the Christian faith is God’s love shown in Jesus’s death on the Cross. As Christians, we’re encouraged to lift up our cross and follow Christ, to lose our lives in order to gain them, to give without counting the cost and to deny ourselves in order to serve each other. During this pandemic, we’ve witnessed an amazing willingness by people from all walks of life and backgrounds to serve others in a sacrificial way. Some of the medical and caring professions died as they tried to save and heal total strangers. Many worked extra shifts or cancelled holidays and lived apart from their families to keep others safe. We were all called to sacrifice in small simple ways by staying at home and not seeing members of our family in order to save lives. In a society that has preached about rights and freedoms, that has encouraged us to think of our own needs first, this willingness to put others first is a true sign of God’s kingdom in our midst.

Jesus’s teaching in the Gospels includes guidance on how to manage our inner thoughts and feelings and shows a deep understanding of how our inner life is the source of our actions. It isn’t enough to hold back from killing someone, we have to learn not to hate them and not bear a grudge. It isn’t enough to decide As the tired fishermen drag the nets ashore, Jesus is not to steal someone else’s possessions, we need to waiting for them and invites them to join him and serves them fish that he has prepared for them. He adds some of the fish they have just caught to the meal. As churches, we’ve learnt a lot about mission over the last eighteen months and may feel that we must put all of it to good use straight away, however tired we feel. As the exhausted disciples reach the shore they are welcomed by a compassionate Jesus who rather than wanting to be served, serves them and feeds them. He doesn’t give them a lecture on how to fish or send them straight out to share the good news but instead he attends to their needs first. We must never forget that we as churches are as much in need of God’s blessing as those we will choose to go out to bless in his name. As I write these words, the cases of Covid-19 here in Wales are rising and we may face further lockdowns between now and next spring. The Church here in Wales, and worldwide, still faces many challenges but, despite our difficulties, we need to hold on to the truth that our story is a resurrection story, a story where we encounter the living Christ and can expect to be blessed even as we carry our empty nets. We must pause, look up and see that the one who promised never to leave us is indeed with us, ready with his words of encouragement and full of compassion towards us. Rest in Peace Posters of Dr Li Wenliang, who warned authorities about the corona virus outbreak seen at Hosier Lane in Melbourne, Australia. Hosier Lane is known for its street art. Please listen to the experts & scientists, wear a mask, social distance and help keep each other safe! 33

“Mission in Bold Humility” - Bernard Thorogood Remembered By Neil Thorogood1


tudying for my MA in Contextual Missiology at Northern College, Manchester, back in the 1990s, David Bosch’s Transforming Mission2 was a core text for our first module. It has fed me ever since. Upon Bosch’s untimely death in 1992, colleagues and friends published a response to that book. They entitled it Mission in Bold Humility.3 That phrase, this coupling of attitudes, has remained a touchstone for me. I hope I can be bold as a follower of Jesus, and his humble witness and servant. Bosch wrote about the adventure of mission and the certainty of the Holy Spirit surprising and unsettling us at almost every step. Humility is called for: “It is, however, a bold humility – or a humble boldness. We know only in part, but we do know.”4 I have borrowed that evocative phrase to write about my father, Bernard. I think it rather wonderfully describes the man and the spheres of his life and ministry. In what follows, you will hear a son’s voice speaking of a father greatly loved and much missed. As much as I can, I want to let his voice come to you through things he published and many pieces written just for a few, or for himself. Throughout, he will simply be “dad”, for that is who he is to me. My closeness to his life and his dying makes this a deeply personal account. I know it cannot hold the critical edge that others will be able to. Having recently participated in CWM’s eDare online conversations I know how vital, urgent and challenging the critiques and reappraisals of CWM and its predecessors are.5 I welcome that rethinking and know that I have much work to do to better understand and repent of the devastating co-option of Christ to forces of empire, colonialism, exploitation, sexism and racism. Ministering, as I do, in Bristol, whose ships and merchants transported over half a million slaves from Africa, the legacies of the Transatlantic slave trade are all around; hauntingly so. Dad was part of some significant stories in mission, ecumenism and the life of the world Church for over sixty years. He is there in the archives. Assessing his contributions more objectively than I possibly can is a task awaiting others. Instead, this is the story I can tell.

To the South Pacific Islands Dad went to the University of Glasgow to begin the studies he hoped would lead to ordination in the Congregational Church and, from the beginning, service overseas: “To be a missionary sounds today a most bizarre ambition. It runs against all our values in a consumer society and a scientific mind-set. It has about it old assumptions of whites teaching blacks, a colonial superiority. But back in the 1940s that is what I set out to be, a minister in a foreign part of the world… My hope to become a minister overseas had to be tested and there was a process of preparation which began when I was 17 until my ordination at 25.”6 1

One of Bernard and Jannett Thorogood’s two sons; currently minister of Thornbury United Reformed Church and Trinity-Henleaze United Reformed Church, Bristol, UK.


D. Bosch, Transforming Mission: Paradigm Shifts in Theology of Mission, Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1991.


W. Saayman & K. Kritzinger, eds., Mission in Bold Humility: David Bosch’s Work Considered, Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1996.


D. Bosch, op. cit., p. 489.

5, accessed 03/11/21.


B. Thorogood, Pilgrims Together, an unpublished manuscript which, revised, was published as A Minister’s Minutes.


Dad’s studies were, as for so many of his generation, interrupted by national service. This meant the RAF, and postings to Egypt where he became involved in teaching. He was also confronted by the realities of colonialism, empire and the racism so embedded within them: “In Egypt the British maintained a colonial superiority and employed Egyptians in the meanest jobs, as cleaners, refuse collectors, sweepers, laundrymen. No attempt at personal understanding was envisaged, encouraged or allowed. Friendship was derided as impossible… Understanding our prejudices is the beginning of the process of healing. This was an important step for me as I started preparation for a life of ministry in another culture.”7 Returning to Glasgow, dad’s studies took a new turn. He worshipped at Elgin Place, and there he first saw Jannett, my mother: “…I spotted a lovely girl in the front line of the choir. I quickly applied to join the choir, solely to have the chance to take her home after choir practice. It was one of the best moves of my life.”8 Love having intervened, dad swapped from Oxford to Edinburgh for his theological studies.

Dad’s reflections run to many, many pages. Reading them again now, I am struck by just how much he remembered. He was shocked by the senior missionary’s colonial attitudes which included being waited upon by a servant, driven around in the official mission car and never learning the local language. To dad, such attitudes could have no place, but echoed a past to confess and a present to transform. Learning Rarotongan, closely related to Tahitian and Maori, was a major early task: “The prize, which the Missionary Society held out as the goal, was to speak the language so fluently that a local person, with eyes shut, would not know that it was an expatriate talking. I think I reached that point after four or five years…”10 Dad never lost the ability. Decades after leaving the islands he could switch from English almost without noticing to the delight of visitors from the Cooks we hosted and, in his later years, as he shared with Cook Islanders in Sydney and returned to Rarotonga on holidays that were also, I think, pilgrimages to roots he cherished and honoured.

Dad had applied to the London Missionary Society as he left school at 17. Mum had grown up in Australia where her father was the office manager and accountant for the LMS’ Sydney office. Their calling to serve in the LMS was thus deeply shared; God’s work weaving their lives together and launching them across the world. Dad had suggested to the Society that they might send him to China. When the Society told them otherwise, mum and dad accepted without hesitation: “Aitutaki, Cook Islands, was way off the map. It seemed almost a mythical destination, an Atlantis or Terre Incognita somewhere out in the distant blue. When we looked for it in the old Times Atlas at home it did not appear in the gazeteer. So the family, in a sleepy Sussex market town, passed the name around in puzzlement but also with a little sense of pride. They were despatching us to this distant address and something of the romance of it, the sheer magic, rubbed off on them and on the little church community where I had been a teenager. It was also magic for me, the point of discovery, the outworking of youthful dreams.”9 It was 1953. We would sail away from the Cook Islands in 1970. I was six when we left. My memories are foggy. I glimpse snapshots of afternoons swimming in the lagoon, climbing trees or waiting with my friends for the sugar cane to be cut so that we could chew it and for the mangoes to be ripe. I remember sitting with the women making beautiful patchwork bedspreads and being terrified of a school teacher who, I was convinced, despised the missionary’s kid.


B. Thorogood, A Minister’s Minutes, Xlibris Publishing, 2014, p. 17.


B. Thorogood, ibid., p. 11-12.


B. Thorogood, Polynesian Parish, unpublished manuscript.


Satire on the campaign to end the British slave trade: a Caribbean scene with enslaved Africans dancing happily watched by two white men and a white woman, while in the foreground an abolitionist admits to a man in military uniform that accounts of cruelty are merely the products of his own "vile imagination". May 1792. Source/Photographer Permission (Reusing this file) © The Trustees of the British Museum, released as CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

ibid. 35

The Birth of the Council for World Mission

The old LMS mission house at Avarua where the Thorogoods lived. Image courtesy of Neil Thorogood.

Dad’s first book set a trend for much of his lifetime of writing. In 1960 the LMS published Not Quite Paradise. Dad combined his own sketches and maps with a text that tried to build bridges between the Cook Islands and congregations in the UK: “As a young missionary I have written a personal account of my field of service… My chief aim in daring to produce a book after only six years service in the islands is to make this romantic field a little more real. Our vision can be dimmed by the glamour of the South Pacific. My colleagues and friends in the Cook Islands Church would certainly support me in this, for only reality can direct the true proclamation of the Gospel… The Cook Islanders have given us their trust and friendship far more readily than we deserve. I hope that my picture of them will encourage respect and service in response.”11

“The year 1970 began with a surprise – surprising then and still now as I think about it – in the form of a letter from the office of the missionary society in London, telling me that the General Secretary was in hospital after a stroke, was expected to do well, but would not be able to resume full time work, so they needed to appoint a helper who would, after a few months, become the successor, and they called on me to fill that role… It was surprising because I was not one of the senior missionaries in service at that time. There were many with longer experience, better qualifications and remarkable achievements… It was a daunting prospect, to exchange the tropical sunshine for the cold English spring and a commuter train to London… But we all took it as our marching orders and sailed on the Northern Star…”12 Thus, dad joined the staff at Livingstone House and began to learn of the LMS family that was far bigger than the islands he knew and loved, and of the 130 or so missionaries serving across the world. He began travelling as much as possible, hoping to visit every place the LMS shared in so that their contexts could become more real to him, and the distant London office might become less mysterious.

Encounters across the world combined with many forces to write a radical emerging agenda that dad was shaped by and helped to shape. He knew, as many did, that all the churches within the LMS family: “…were capable of fulfilling what was known as the 3-Self Movement – self-governing, self-supporting and self-propagating. This was not news. It had been accepted for thirty or forty years, but it had never That picture expanded with a move to Rarotonga and pressed us urgently enough to promote a radical responsibilities teaching and training Cook Island response. We now had to ask the questions, What is ministers at Takamoa theological college. Dad and a mission board in London called to do? Is its work mum sailed on the LMS John Williams mission ships done? Pack up and go home? Just about this time (6 and 7 in the series) on their slow and periodic the same questions were being raised from the other voyages around the Cook Islands. One such trip end of the relationship as we heard a plea for a carried our family away as we relocated to Tarawa in ‘Moratorium on Mission’, led by some church leaders the Gilbert Islands, dad taking up ministerial training in Kenya, Thailand and Singapore. They were there. Then it was back for further service at suggesting that for the churches to become fully and Takamoa. fruitfully part of their own community and culture, there needed to be a total withdrawal of expatriate Dad’s reflections of these years are rich in detail, in colleagues; only so would the local churches feel free stories, in people and in faith mutually shared. He to express the faith in their own ways.” 13 often writes of the end of colonialism and of changing attitudes; a longing for independence and Dad began to write what he described as “Thinking respect, of his own learning to reframe the Pieces.” He asked questions and wondered about missionary enterprise within himself and with the possibilities. Many, across the world, shared their people he served alongside. These island years wisdom, their hopes, their hurt, their fears. By now shaped us as a family. I have never been able to think the LMS was the Congregational Council for World of myself as a Christian, and of being part of the Mission. It was 1975: “In order to clarify the way Body of Christ, without thinking instantly of being ahead we invited representatives from the churches equally at home in the URC and CWM as the parts of in the CCWM circle to gather in Singapore, with an the Church that I know and love. These Pacific open agenda on the future pattern of the mission islands shape me still. enterprise. We were thankful that most of 11

B. Thorogood, Not Quite Paradise, London: LMS, 1960, Introduction.


B. Thorogood, A Minister’s Minutes, p. 59.


B. Thorogood, ibid., p. 87.


the churches sent a very senior officer who could speak from wide experience and knowledge. All participated well. There were strong voices from South Africa, Jamaica, Hong Kong, South India and Papua New Guinea. A consensus was reached that we in London should make a serious attempt to form a new Council for Mission in which all the churches would share responsibility for the enterprise, all would be givers, all would be receivers, all would be considered for staff positions, all might send missionaries, all would have a global view of God’s call. We took this serious proposition back with us to London, meditating on the plane how such a reform might be achieved.”14 The plan that emerged was published for the churches in the December that year. It was entitled Sharing in One World Mission. Dad sent me, not so long ago, his copy, along with various other pieces of writing he had found. With it, a little note: “I guess the Sharing in One World Mission plan is the most influential thing I have written. Whether it now stands up to examination, others will judge. But most is ephemeral and will fade gracefully away!”

The United Reformed Church In 1972 Presbyterians and Congregationalists came together to form the URC, the church that has been home to me for most of my life. By 1978 the time had come to seek a new General Secretary for the young denomination. Dad was approached, and was inclined to say no. He felt his calling remained with CWM. The search committee disagreed: “A while later they sent Lesslie Newbigin to see me and we had our sandwich lunch together in my office as he set out the claims that my own Church had on me and why I might be the right person for the post. There could not have been a more persuasive messenger.”19

I remember dad once saying that it came as a surprise to discover that his calling led him to become a church bureaucrat! The URC’s London offices were his new base but dad needed to find as many ways as possible to get away from the desk and immersed in the contexts of the URC. I think of the many, many weekends when he was away, leading worship or attending meetings across the denomination. We had no car, so most of these That document says many things about mission, travels depended upon public transport. Dad used theology, the Church and the world: “No particular the train to read and write. He would often come church has a private supply of truth, or wisdom or home late on a Sunday after a winter’s trip was missionary skills. So within the circle of churches delayed and he had shivered on a dark platform which we serve we seek to encourage mutuality.”15 somewhere. Often, he stayed overnight, hosted by a “We believe that we become participants in mission minister or local church family. He loved such visits not because we hold all the answers and all the truth, because he could glimpse something deeper of the but because we are part of the body of Christ. All of story of the people whom he served. I don’t think he us are searchers. We have glimpsed the glory of God managed to visit every congregation, but I suspect in the face of Jesus Christ, and what we know we he saw a great many. In recent years I would mention love. But there are varieties of Christian experience a visit of my own and dad would instantly remember and of Christian community we have not entered. the place and some of the people. There are doubtless many ways in which Christ comes to men [sic] that we have never seen. Therefore, we seek a form of missionary organisation in which we may all learn from each other, for in that fellowship we believe that the Holy Spirit speaks to all through each.”16 “At this point in history it is important that we share power as widely as possible, that we hold as much as we can ‘in common’ and that we value the different ways of discipleship in which Christ leads others. We do not cease to use the resources we have for God’s service; but we cease to regard them as our own. Therefore a mutual sharing of gifts is necessary.”17 Thus was the Council for World Mission born, inaugurated in July, 1977. Dad worked on, exploring what it now meant to share in new ways. Looking back upon those years, he wrote: “I can only reflect that it was a challenging time at which to serve in international mission, a privilege to have a part in it, a big gallop from the small island communities I had known, and all with a sense that I was carried and empowered by many faithful people.”18


B. Thorogood, Pilgrims Together.


Sharing in One World Mission, London: CWM, p. 4, 2.6.


ibid., p. 4-5, 2.7.


ibid., p. 5, 2.8-2.9.


B. Thorogood, A Minister’s Minutes, p. 93.


B. Thorogood, Pilgrims Together

These island years shaped us as a family. I have never been able to think of myself as a Christian, and of being part of the Body of Christ, without thinking instantly of being equally at home in the URC and CWM as the parts of the Church that I know and love. 37

Connecting to everyone revealed itself in other ways. Dad only had to cope with email after he retired. Much of his work involved letters received in London. He always attempted to have each letter answered the day he received it; a little sign of respect for whoever had written. Whilst I constantly have to rewrite and sharpen, dad could go from his head to paper via a pen with almost no redrafting. He was well known in committees for being able to condense a complex, and even rambling, discussion into a clear summary statement that everyone could recognise. He would regularly write a reflective letter to all of the URC’s ministers and church secretaries, adapting a habit he had started whilst at CWM. I have a few. They range far and wide across global events, major URC programmes and ecumenical developments. They also dove deeply into his personal journey. In 1987 my mother fell ill. About a year later, the inoperable lung cancer killed her. Within months, dad wrote his regular letter to the URC: “But how do you give battle when the outlook is so grim, when the doctors offer no relief, and when it is plain that weakness increases day by day? I think the great weapons are unremitting love and care… It was a proper battle. Yet the enemy won and I cannot say that was directly the will of God…” 20

Mum’s death struck us hard. She and dad had been such a team, crossing the world together. “So ended 35 years of marriage leaving us deeply shaken. I felt adrift, the anchor gone. For it was only in the loss that I really acknowledged how Jannett had been the centre and strength of the family… I wish I had given thanks for that more often and long ago. Thanks, too, that the discovery of each other far back in Glasgow had led to such good travelling together in faith and service.”21 Dad was an early riser throughout his life. By the time we arrived for breakfast, dad would have spent an hour or two writing. Writing was a huge part of his ministry. There were countless papers and reports of course. But he relished writing a sequence of books that he published during his CWM and URC years22. This was another way in which he could step from behind the desk, offering thoughtful theology for members of congregations to enjoy written in an engaging and often chatty style as if he was sharing a conversation. Yet the years of experience and encounter and the breadth of scholarship underpinned each page. 20

URC, Letter to all Ministers and Church Secretaries from the General Secretary’s Office, June 1988.


B. Thorogood, Pilgrims Together.

Ecumenism in the UK and across the world became significant dimensions in dad’s URC years. For him the prayer of Jesus rang as a call to be honoured: “I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one – I in them and you in me – so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”23 Mission and ecumenism flowed together. Dad chaired the Executive Committee of the British Council of Churches. He helped oversee the BCC’s transformation into Churches Together in Britain and Ireland. Up until then, the Catholic Church had not belonged to the BCC: “I was privileged to preside at the meeting where the decision was made. We waited for Cardinal Hume to speak. When he did, in his careful, quiet way, he said that the Catholic Church in England would in future, in every place, and at every level, take its full part in the ecumenical organisation and programme. This was a great moment and signalled to me that my part in the BCC had been completed.”24

A Guide to Amos, London: SCM, 1971; Everyday Prayers, Redhill: International Bible Reading Association, 1978 (he contributed to this shared volume); Our Father’s House: An Approach to Worship, London: URC, 1983; Risen Today, London: SCM, 1986 (a meditation on the resurrection); The Flag and the Cross: National Limits and Church Universal, London: SCM, 1988 (explorations on nationalism and the Church); No Abiding City: Change and Changelessness in the Church, London: SCM, 1989 (a call to embrace change as fundamental to faith); Judging Caesar, London: URC, 1990 (meditations on church and state); Gales of Change: Responding to a Shifting Missionary Context, Geneva: WCC Publications, 1994 (he edited the LMS-CWM history, 1945-1977).




John 17: 22-23.


B. Thorogood, A Minister’s Minutes, p. 111.

At the World Council of Churches Assembly in Vancouver dad was secretary to the Message Committee, responsible for the message the Assembly would send to the world. His memories of the 3,000-seater yellow and white worship tent never faded: “The most exciting moments of that Vancouver meeting were in the big tent. We were there for a prayer service on a late Saturday evening, preparing for the Holy Communion the next morning, when Desmond Tutu arrived. It was dramatic, for he had come straight from South Africa, in the middle of the struggle there. His powerful witness was a

his work in the world and the different perceptions of his saving act in Christ all are part of the present reality, not to be regularised by any church authority. The unity we seek has to be as visible as the differences. It has to be so plain in the way we order our common life in Christ that the world can see a people brought together before the cross. Our traditional labels need not be the only, the chief or eternal distinguishing marks. But we shall worship and work as people of one city to serve one world. Our unity we shall seek with humility. Our diversity we shall recognize with joy. This search is not a matter

This was another way in which he could step from behind the desk, offering thoughtful theology for members of congregations to enjoy written in an engaging and often chatty style as if he was sharing a conversation. Faith leaders confronting White racism in Charlottesville USA Aug 12th 2017

shining light in that dark scene and his personality made us thankful to be in his company… He only spoke for a few minutes that midnight in Vancouver, but wanted us to know that the prayers of the world church were like ‘a fire around us defending us from all enemies.’”25

of sudden arrival, a ‘we’ve made it at last’, and not an occasion to boast of any local progress. I take it to be a permanent characteristic of the fellowship of Christ that we resist the forces that would pull us apart, constantly receive the diversity of human responses to the gospel and never cease to form At Vancouver, dad was elected onto the WCC Central patterns of unity. The prayer of Christ and the nature Committee; a body of 200 meeting every eighteen of God and the pain of a divided world all draw us months to oversee the Council’s work. Work included along this way.”26 tough debates about ongoing WCC support for the Sydney, Australia African National Congress as the ANC’s protests against apartheid grew more violent. There were visits to member churches: Hanover (including time I was ordained in Halifax, West Yorkshire, in with a Jewish Rabbi at Belsen); Moscow (celebrating September, 1992. Dad preached. In the July of that year he had served his last URC General Assembly. the millennium of the Orthodox Church); Buenos Aires (just after the Falkland’s conflict and spending Retirement beckoned. He had arranged a new home near the England-Wales border. He wanted to slip time with the mothers and grandmothers of those away so that endless invitations to serve on URC ‘disappeared’ under the generals). committees would not chase him. Nor did he want, in any way, to be thought of as peering over the Ecumenism was woven deep into dad’s DNA. In shoulder of his successor or my first steps into URC 1991, the WCC published dad’s ecumenical ministry. reflections. He concludes: “The diversity of the approaches to God, the different understandings of 25

ibid., p. 121.


B. Thorogood, One Wind, Many Flames: Church Unity and the Diversity of the Churches, Geneva: WCC Publications, 1991, p. 70-71. 39

“I’ve had my time and my chance,” he would say. Honours came his way though. He received an OBE and received a Lambeth Doctor of Divinity, both for services to the world Church. Dad very seldom made any mention of either, being embarrassed to draw attention to such things.

these final years. I think he must have written something every day! We have some of it. There was the extended aerogramme conversation in which he would ask a question which we answered a week later and he received a week later still. There were poems and prayers, often compiled into little books primarily as gifts for the congregation; a ministry Romance, again, intervened as he retired. And, for beyond the Sunday service. He roamed widely sure, in this the providential love and care of God across the pages of theology, exploring what he now enfolded him. Joan was an old friend who had grown understood of the Trinity and ecumenism, on the up with my mother and started work with her in meaning of mission and worship, on suffering and Sydney. Having met up again when dad was at the the silence of God, on living simply, on the Creeds, on WCC Assembly in Canberra at the start of 1991, a Paul’s letters, on salvation, on inter-faith dialogue, on long distance courtship by phone and letter began. being a missionary, on much more. Some became They married in Sydney and concluded that this was books for wider audiences, but much was just meant where they would write a new chapter. for the congregation and circle he loved. It was a glorious final chapter for dad. Certainly, there was the heartache of leaving family and friends far away; dad made regular return visits until his health made that too hard and we managed a couple of trips to see them. But we could only rejoice in the way dad completely embraced a new context. He became an Australian citizen and transferred his ministry to the Uniting Church of Australia: “…I was invited to take a part-time pastoral ministry for a little congregation at Pymble Chapel, a former Methodist church in a sandstone building that holds about 50 people. I don’t know how good it was for the congregation but it was certainly good for me to care for such a small group, typical of so many today, where each person is known intimately. It was a splendid corrective to the General Secretary’s chair.”27At the larger Pymble Uniting Church, dad settled into being the most supportive retired minister he could possibly be, every bit at home in the pew but willing to preach and offer anything he could to support the mission and ministry around him. He found deep love and friendship; the Body of Christ as a profound home for one who left another home far away. I cannot count the thousands of pages dad wrote in

Mum and Dad in the Cook Islands, Image courtesy of Neil Thorogood.


B. Thorogood, A Minister’s Minutes, p. 152.


ibid., p. 153.


B. Thorogood & N. Thorogood, Old Grey Prayers: Prayers and Poems on Growing Older, London: URC.


It was around 2009 that dad began to notice that Joan’s memory was slipping. Some years later, Alzheimer’s was diagnosed. Once again, dad travelled the road with one he loved as the struggles took their twists and turns. Eventually, he could not offer the care at home he knew Joan needed: “But my helplessness to give the support that was necessary led me to seek a residential care facility which would be within reach and offer both expertise and kind personal attention. That was a very hard decision, perhaps the hardest I have had to make. We found the right home where Joan does receive all the proper care, yet every day when I have visited and then shut the security door behind me, I feel a sense of guilt, as though I have imprisoned my dear wife.”28 He visited Joan several times a week every week until he ended up in hospital and then a care home himself short weeks before his death. I think there was a final mission field dad walked. Into his own aging, in the sickness of family and the loss of loved ones, in the approach of his own death, dad wandered and wondered. We worked together on a little illustrated booklet for the URC; Old Grey Prayers: Prayers and Poems on Growing Older.29

Within the many collections of prayers he shared with those Pymble congregations, the journey towards life’s ending is seen and known, honoured and accepted, offered into the hands of God. Here’s just one he titled “Nursing Home Gospel”: “Weakness does not mean defeat: another valuation is true, that aging brings us closer to victory. Dependence on others is not defeat: it is the opportunity to let them shine with skill and love. Scrambled memory is not all loss but a photo album become a little untidy, and the good pictures are still there. And shaky hands have not lost their meaning, for they still bear the touch of experience in every wrinkle. O Jesus, why could you not grow old and show us the way? You died too young, as heroes do. We need you on the last journey. We want to know that we are with God and God is with us still. And then we see it plain. This is your journey in these fragile people nearing their final days. This is Christ in old age. Nursing Home – Emmanuel.”30

Finally These are some of the things dad did and shared. For some reading this there may be your own memories rekindled as you were part of his life and in these stories. I hope you recognise something true. For others, this might be a glimpse into another world and time. I hope you can find something here that resonates still. I am very grateful to CWM for the invitation to share. Let the final word be his; a blessing from dad’s final book of prayers: “Come, Holy Spirit, like the wind to fill our sails; Come like the fire to purify our motives; Come like fresh water to revive our tired faith; Come like the springtime to bring the new buds to life; Come like the joy of the feast to call us into fellowship with one another and with the Lord.”31


B. Thorogood, Occasional Prayers, Pymble, 2006, unpublished manuscript.


B. Thorogood, A Basket of Prayer: Resources for Worship, Xlibris, 2017, p. 154. 41

The Multiple Intersections of

Religion, Labour, and Class This is the second of a two-part series by Dr Joerg Riger, Vanderbilt University. Part One can be found in our October issue. Used by permission of Wipf and Stock Publishers, Dr Joerg Rieger is Distinguished Professor of Theology at Vanderbilt University and holds the Cal Turner Chancellor’s Chair in Wesleyan Studies. He is Founding Director of the Wendland-Cook Program in Religion and Justice. He is also Affiliated Faculty of Turner Family Centre for Social Ventures, Owen Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt University. He is author and editor of 24 books and more than 170 academic articles.

Religion, and the Abrahamic traditions in particular, can provide a broader perspective for labour and the labour movement. Note that refusing to address religion does not mean it will stop interfering with labour and wither away; it means that religion will be used in service to the dominant powers and the corporations, as it often is.17

connections of this struggle to the struggle of working people today. Exploitation and oppression are still real-life experiences, as are stories of liberation.

These connections are made explicit today especially in the so-called “Labour Seders” organised by the Jewish Labour Committee, which serve as reminders In many of the Abrahamic religious traditions, the that the struggle for liberation is ongoing. The view from the perspective of working people is not following parallels between ancient times and today only enlightening, but indispensable. For example, are highlighted: persecution, oppressive taskmasters, the legacy of Moses, shared in different ways by impossible work demands, work quotas, and a Judaism, Christianity, and Islam cannot be conceived struggle for freedom.18 without his solidarity with the Hebrew slaves in Egypt. The liberation from Egypt is deeply anchored In Christian traditions, Christmas is a holiday deeply in all three Abrahamic traditions. The legacy of Jesus connected with work and labour. In the birth of cannot be conceived without his solidarity with Christ, God chose to become a day labourer in working people of his own time and which drew the construction who would have known the realities of ire of status quo religion. The legacy of Muhammad labour first- hand. This arrangement was certainly is likewise tied to a concern for the wellbeing of the not the most advantageous for the spread of any working people of his time, many of whom were dominant religious message, and so it appears to be being defrauded in the transition from a tribal to a more than a historical accident. Why make a mercantile society where traders gathered spectacular announcement of this birth to lower substantial fortunes at the expense of the masses. working-class shepherds—sending the heavenly choir of angels no less—rather than to the upper Core religious holidays of the Abrahamic religions crust of the country, including the high priests and may demonstrate what is at stake. Judaism’s the vassal kings (Luke 2:7–10)? The symbols of celebration of the Passover, for instance, is an annual Christmas, including shepherds and sheep, are not reminder of the liberation from slavery in Egypt. Few romantic adornments of a mystical event. They serve other religious rituals are as strongly grounded in an as reminders of God’s unflinching solidarity with act of liberation. This liberation is not merely a working people. And so it appears that even the spiritual matter but affects everything, including angels join in solidarity with working people. In this economics, politics, community, and personal spirit, the common critiques of consumerism leveled relationships. The Passover begins with the Seder, a around Christmastime need to be redirected: rather ritual meal during which the story of the exodus from than blaming consumers, what about challenging Egypt is retold. If religion is understood in terms of those who fuel consumerism? people’s daily lives, it is not hard to see the many


Egypt and Nubia, Volume I: Abyssinian Slaves Resting at Korti-Nubia. Photo via

Illustration of slave raiding in Southern Sudan in the 19th century. The sorrow and hope of the Egyptian Sudan; a survey of missionary conditions and methods of work in the Egyptian Sudan. Artwork by Watson, Charles R. (Charles Roger), 1873-1948

In Islam, the month of Ramadan mandates fasting, observed for twenty-nine or thirty days in a row, from dawn to sunset. Ramadan is the commemoration of the first revelation of the Qur’an given to the prophet Muhammad and a time of increased self-discipline, prayer, and charity (the latter two are added to fasting, resulting in three of the five pillars of Islam). One interpretation of fasting during Ramadan is that it helps the faithful experience what it might feel like to be poor and to be in solidarity with the poor. Empathy and support for the poor is not merely another moral commandment in Islam—it is tied to the heart of faith because it reflects the will of God. Muslims continue to work during Ramadan, as balance between worship and work is encouraged by the Prophet, yet the celebration of Ramadan can inspire resistance to the capitalist ethos of limitless growth and the infinite accumulation of profits.19 The celebrations of Passover, Christmas, and Ramadan each teach important lessons about God’s solidarity with exploited working people, through acts of liberation from enslavement (Passover), acts of identification with the working class (Christmas), and acts of solidarity with the poor and resistance to limitless profit (Ramadan). Moreover, these three major religious celebrations can provide safe spaces for exploring alternative ways of life both in the imagination and in practice. In the rituals of Passover, Christmas, and Ramadan, religion is public, pushing beyond the narrow boundaries of what is commonly considered the “sacred” and working towards the transformation of the world. The solidarity with and among working people that develops here is strengthened rather than undercut by the diversity of religious expression and—by the

17 18

same token—reminds us of the necessity to incorporate the related struggles along the lines of race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality. The result is a move from minority politics to a different kind of majority politics, where the majority can resist exploitation and oppression while maintaining its diversity.

Justice One of the key theological terms in the Abrahamic religions is justice, even though this is often overlooked or even repressed. Even working people seem to identify religion with charity rather than justice. The notion of justice in the Abrahamic traditions contradicts the meaning of justice in capitalist societies. According to capitalist economist Fried- rich von Hayek, for instance, justice is defined as “the fair and impartial application of legal, moral and perhaps customary rules.”20 One of the fundamental premises of capitalism is that all participants in the market are equal. This is evidently not the case, however, in the real world. There is a substantial difference between large and small participants in the market, as the largest corporations have a significantly stronger position than smaller corporations or even workers. The key problem is that justice defined as fairness is unable to deal with situations of grave power differentials. Alternative perspectives on justice emerge from those who lack power in the current situation, like workers, small business owners, and the growing masses of those who cannot find a job or who lack job security. Here is a significant parallel to the Abrahamic religious traditions, which also derive

“When people experience sociopsychological strain, but lack the cultural or theological resources to make sense of it, they turn to the predominant ideology” (Bloomquist, Dream Betrayed, 47). See the concerns expressed in the Jewish Labour Committee Passover Haggadah, Third Edition: Spring 2002. On the web: es/onlinehaggadah2014.pdf/. See also Jews United for Justice ( labour-seder), now also augmented by a Social Justice Seder and a Racial Justice Seder


See, for instance, Ramadan, Radical Reform, 239.


Hayek, Fatal Conceit, 116–17. 43

from the perspective of people under pressure. In these traditions, God is not neutral like Lady Justice, the Roman goddess who is traditionally portrayed with a blindfold, and a pair of scales and a sword in each hand. In situations of grave power differentials, divine neutrality amounts not to justice but to injustice. As Farid Esack, a South African Muslim liberation theologian has pointed out, neutrality or objectivity in the context of oppression is a sin according to the Qur’an.21 In the Jewish traditions on which Christianity and Islam are building, justice means not being neutral but being in solidarity with those who experience injustice and taking the sides of those who have been marginalised and excluded from the community. In many texts of the Hebrew Bible, for instance, justice refers to a covenant, that is, to a relationship between God and humanity initiated by God. This relationship is expressed in terms of God’s faithfulness, which implies God’s special concern for those pushed to the margins and excluded by some who are under the mistaken impression that their way of life is favoured by God (or who simply don’t care).22 In the New Testament, Jesus often takes the sides of the oppressed over and against the oppressors (see, for instance, his biting critique of dominant groups like the ones made up by certain Pharisees in Matt 23:1–36). In Islam, the Qur’an expresses a similar concern when it gives the following advice: “And if two factions among the believers should fight, then make settlement between the two. But if one of them oppresses the other, then fight against the one that oppresses un- til it returns to the ordinance of Allah (49:9).”23 In sum, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all share special concerns for the oppressed. What the Abrahamic notions of justice have in common is their focus on community and solidarity, the latter a term that resonates with the labour movement. The Hebrew verb sdq (to be just) means to be faithful to the community that was established by the covenant with God.24 The Greek term dikaiosyne (justice or righteousness) as used in the New Testament, also reflects this emphasis on communal relationship, and justice tends to include both the relations between human beings and the relation to God.25 In Islam, likewise, justice (the Arab terms for justice, quist and ‘[set ayin]adl, are used interchangeably in the Qur’an) is defined in relation to the divine (as a witness to Allah)26 and has implications for how people treat each other (Qur’an 4:135). As Jewish scholar Aryeh Cohen points out from a Rabbinic Jewish perspective, the fundamental problem is the unequal relationship between worker and employer, which is never merely a private matter since the community has an interest in it as well.27 In sum, the restoration of relationships with the oppressed is not merely another social issue or the moral consequence of religion; rather, the quality of religion itself, and the quality of the relationship with the divine, is closely tied to the restoration of relationships among the people. These insights are helpful in various ways. First, rather than talking about justice in terms of a grand idea, particular experiences of injustice and power have to be examined. Who wins and who loses in a particular situation? What would it take to turn things around in this particular relationship? Note that notions of fairness and balance are unlikely to be strong enough to resist injustice that has become institutionalised, and so more engaged notions of justice are required. Second, injustice in relation to labour issues under capitalism is tied to the dramatic differences in the valuation of productivity. Working people, both blue and white collar, make hundreds of times less than upper-level managers. Is this really just? Wages cut precisely at a time when workers are becoming more productive all the time, how can this be justified? Justice in this case will lead to a revaluation of the productivity of workers and to a reconstruction of the class-based relationships between those who work and those who manage. Third, justice that deals with the specific injustices experienced by working people requires rethinking solidarity in the face of distorted economic relations. The experience of economic pressures tend to weld together people who differ along the lines of race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality. The labour movement cannot function without such solidarity, and neither can religion. Religious people could be ahead of the game if they realise that distortions of economic relations—class struggle waged not from the bottom but from the top—are central issues in the sacred texts of the Tanakh, Bible, and Qur’an, not merely as a social or ethical issues, but also in terms of the distortion of our relations to each other and to the divine.

21 22

Esack, Qur’an, Liberation and Pluralism, 106. See, for example, Marshall, Beyond Retribution.


Qur’an 49:9, Sahih International Translation, on the web at


Koch, “sdq, gemeinschaftstreu/heilvoll sein.”


Lührmann, “Gerechtigkeit III.”


Esack, Qur’an, Liberation and Pluralism,103.


Cohen, Justice in the City, 120, 123.


See, for example, the Occupy Wall Street movement, where 1 percenters did in fact join the 99 percent:


The critique of idolatry is one of the central concerns of Ellis, Toward a Jewish Theology of Liberation, 163–76, 205, developed in conversation with Christian libera- tion theologies.


Dabashi, Islamic Liberation Theology, 254.


Taking Sides These reflections on justice point to one of the most interesting convergences between the traditions of labour and the Abrahamic religions: an understanding of the need to take sides in situations of injustice and grave power differentials. Taking sides does not have to mean narrow partisanship or mindless radicalism, it means to support the wellbeing of the 99 percent who have to work for a living starting with those at the very bottom, leaving open the possibility that the 1 percent at the top will see the light and join in this project as well. Some may consider it impossible for 1 percenters to take sides and join the movement, but this has happened time and again.28 The labour movement’s tradition of taking sides has waxed and waned through the decades. Many working people today assume that taking sides is unnecessary and that it is possible to make everybody happy. As a result, they try to please the company by working extra hard, giving up vacation, and never speaking up, while hoping for the best. On the whole, however, the fortunes of working people are hardly on the rise, and individuals will never be able to balance the growing inequality of power. Even representatives of labour unions have at times forgotten that it is necessary to take sides, instead searching for middle roads between workers and employers. Yet, as the Abrahamic religious traditions and the experiences of most working people in recent times, remind us, there is no safe middle ground.

Child labour in Bangladesh. “I was going to picnic at Bichanakandi by boat. near the picnic spot i have seen him carrying stones. his owner was standing beside the river. that is how some of childs survive and struggle for food.” Photo by Rana Roy. Hazardous child labour, mines and quarry - Young boys carrying bricks on their head. They work for a brickyard employing children at the entrance of Antsirabe, Madagascar. Photo by © ILO/M.CROZET.

In this situation, religion can provide some unexpected inspiration. As we have seen, in the Abrahamic traditions, God engages in the struggles of the world on the side of the oppressed, challenging the oppressors. Any god who sides with the dominant powers is an idol and not the God of Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad.29 This insight is expressed in different ways. In Islam, God’s Otherness is a central theme.30 This means that God is not envisioned in terms of human beings. In Judaism and Christianity, on the other hand, God is often portrayed as a worker, although there are also Jewish and Christian traditions where God is seen as different from humanity. The parallels, however, should not be over- looked: in all three religions, God is not easily envisioned in terms of the ruling class, although efforts to domesticate God in this way start in the sacred texts themselves. 45

Some of the Jewish and Christian images of God as worker can help us deepen these insights. God is envisioned, for instance, as construction worker, builder, craftsman, metal worker, potter, or garment maker. The latter two images also challenge gender stereotypes because in the early history of Israel these were mostly the work of women. God is also envisioned as gardener or farmer, watering plants and sowing. God is depicted as shepherd, and sheep herding is common in all three Abrahamic religions as a marginal and less valued job. Elsewhere, God is spoken of as a tentmaker—a profession that was looked down upon by Greek and Roman elites.31 These images can help us value work and workers more, encouraging us to take sides in particular with those among the working 99 percent who are often discounted and belittled. In Islam, the need to take the side of the oppressed is equally clear. In the Qur’an 4:75, the faithful are asked this question: “And what is [the matter] with you that you fight not in the cause of Allah and [for] the oppressed among men, women, and children who say, ‘Our Lord, take us out of this city of oppressive people and appoint for us from Yourself a protector and appoint for us from Yourself a helper?’” The divine cause is to take sides in the fight against oppression, and the faithful are expected to be part of it. This fight is not a minor matter. Khali Ur Rehman, Chairman of the All Pakistan Federation of Labour, argues that Islam helps us understand that exploitation and usurpation are the causes of all of the world’s problems.32 God-talk shifts sides here. Too often have dominant religions claimed God to be on their side in order to shore up their power. Labour can learn from these mistakes, but one might wonder whether working people are committing the same mistakes when they claim that God is on their side? History shows that we should not presuppose too quickly that God supports certain causes over others. Nevertheless, not discussing where God is found does not solve the problem, as those who refuse to take sides altogether typically endorse the dominant status quo without being aware of it. From the Abrahamic traditions one might learn that neutrality is not an option, as any vacuum will quickly be filled by the dominant forces—even when it comes to God-talk and certainly when it comes to movement politics. Third, the Abrahamic traditions insist that God is at work in the world, in places where we least expect it. That God is working alongside working people is significant, even though it does not mean that working people own God or control God. There are lessons here for the labour movement that will need to be explored further.

Conclusions At a time when the future of religion is open, the future of the labour movement is open as well. Neither religion nor labour should be limited to particular organisations. If religion is the quest for something bigger that we cannot control as individuals or institutions, so is labour. It might be argued that everybody who works for a living is part of labour in some form or fashion—expanding the notion of the working class—even though not everybody realises this and even though the current legal situation in the United States obscures this. It is no surprise that labour unions, like most religious institutions, are hesitant to challenge the dominant system. It is much easier to critique moral or legal transgressions, including wage theft, unfair labour


See Banks, God the Worker.


Rehman, Concept of Labour in Islam, 59, 60: “[Islam] tells the capitalist and the wealthy, that all they have is in due to their workers.”


Snarr, All You That Labour, 151.


practices, or clear violations of safety regulations; easier also to denounce malpractice in business like embezzlement or noncompliance. The fundamental problem in capitalism, however, is not moral or legal transgressions or malpractice; the problem is that corporations are responsible for the maximisation of profits. As a result, they are accountable only to their stockholders and not to their workers. And a time-honoured way to maximise profits is to cut working people’s wages and benefits, and to reduce whatever power they might have over themselves and their work. This now happens even in organisations like universities, churches, and community groups that were once considered off limits. In this climate, labour and religion have the potential to become allies in dealing with these systemic issues, and their futures depend on how well they are able do this. At the same time, labour and religion can become allies in very practical matters.

Labour can help religious people understand the importance of organizing, which is essential because religious communities will hardly change from the top down. But neither will labour. Religion also has ways to get people involved. In what seems to be a surprising turn, studies have found that “religious organisations are three to four times more likely to mobilise a person politically than a union.”33 This is not about party politics but about joining the struggle for the common good. Moreover, in both labour and religious communities working people are able to prove themselves in leadership roles: they can practice public speaking, preside over meetings, and negotiate with official representatives, developing civic skills and technique. This development of skills and technique needs to be tied to a deeper awareness of why all of this is derive important, not limited to the mind but incorporating the heart and bodies as well. This is what religion can do, and what it has done throughout the ages. In the United States, neither the abolitionist movement, nor the Civil Rights movement, and not even the labour movement can be envisioned without the contributions of religion and its abilities to shape people holistically. The most important issue of all, however, is the question of power. Too often, both in past history and at present, leaders in both labour and religion assume that there is only one sort of power that will be successful, namely dominant power that operates from the top down. Some have wielded such power very well and with great success. The problem is, however, that in these cases both labour and religion often assimilated to the status quo. Union leaders, clergy, and even images of God adapted to the model of the powerful CEO. In these cases, both labour and religion gained power by giving up the ability to challenge dominant systems and to make a real difference. As we have seen, many strands of the Abrahamic religious traditions promote alternative images of power. In these traditions, the true leaders do not shape up in the image of the “strong man” (usually white and straight as well); rather, leaders shape up in relations of solidarity from within the working majority. This is true even for images of God, which need to be rethought from within the movement. Ultimately, the power of the people always differs from that of the elites, and both labour and religion may have a brighter future if they manage to embrace, pursue, and develop this sort of power. The good news—of labour and of religion—is that some of this is already happening. 47


POST-COVID-19 Pastoral Care Reflection and Action By Li Hau-Tiong (Advisor for Community Outreach Ministry PCS)


undreds of millions of people worldwide have been infected by the plague of the century - COVID-19, causing a global catastrophe. More than three million have since died in the misfortune, and the death toll is still on the rise. Although Singapore is one of the few countries that outperformed others in the prevention of this wave of pandemic, the hidden issues of family, society, and culture have now been exposed. In addition, will the measures taken by the government and society during pandemic prevention create a sense of alienation between people? Is the people's enthusiasm for participating in community public affairs affected? Has the interaction or closeness of family members diminished?

Sunday service amidst the Covid-19 situation.

What will the society look like after the implementation of the "anti-pandemic new life"? Will the border control policy weaken the worldview and competitiveness of our people? The above are common issues faced by the Singaporean society as well as the entire global community. We need to tackle them with caution and find solutions to address them.

Challenges and Responses of the Singapore Church Like other religious groups, the Christian Churches are also affected in this wave of pandemic. I have been assigned to The Presbyterian Church in Singapore (PCS) as a missionary since March last year. During this period, I experienced the most stringent circuit breaker isolation measures implemented by the local government, which included safe distancing, mandatory wearing of face masks, real-name management, and working from home. In addition, except for the consumer goods industry (supermarkets, markets), other non-essential businesses were closed; all public places, churches, and temples had to cease physical activities too. 48 INSiGHT DECEMBER 2021

Even when face-to-face interaction was impossible, some pastors offered online courses on faith-related topics and organised more in-depth intellectual forums or group gatherings with youth members. Glendale United Methodist Church in Nashville, Tennessee offers weekly worship through Facebook. Photo by Online Worship at Glendale United Methodist Church.

How did the local church cope with the challenges of "lockdown"? How to turn a crisis into an opportunity through the power of faith? How to continue with the witness mission through the church? In the post-pandemic era, what are the church's "advanced deployment" actions and theological reflections? I will present a general overview to serve as a reference to the CWM family

Local Church – Digitalisation The most direct impact to the church was the complete cessation of physical worship. According to government regulations, the number of church worshipers should not exceed two people; pastoral care, fellowship exchanges and other activities had also been greatly hampered. Secondly, community ministries (especially care for the elderly) had come to a halt. Faced with these challenges, the church was compelled to adopt "digitalisation": online worship services, computer-produced videos, online gatherings, care services through video platform and other types of ministry to replace traditional pastoral approaches. Among them, the hardware equipment setup, operating skills training and the design of software with faith-related content were tedious and complicated in rolling out, but the church adhered to the principle of "learning by doing": pastors, elders, deacons and church staff were gradually able to get things started after a period of time.

Since March (2020), a local church has mobilised young people to teach the elders to use their mobile phones to shop online, order meals and participate in online worship services, with the church subsidising part of the Internet usage expenses. In addition, they also encourage their children and grandchildren or trained caregivers to assist the elders to use 3C products (Computer, Communication, and Consumer Electronics) to participate in church and community activities. This pre-emptive ministry has greatly enhanced the church capacity to care for the elderly. Even when face-to-face interaction was impossible, some pastors offered online courses on faith-related topics and organised more in-depth intellectual forums or group gatherings with youth members. I have been invited to host three continuous panel discussions on "Values of Faith" and "Situational Ministry" since June. This shows that young people of our church have a high level of interest and demand for theological and religious topics.

Witness in Suffering The community ministries run by most churches were forced to stop. For example: senior care, youth placement and family service work were all affected. However, a crisis is also a turning point. Three churches of PCS have been invited by the government to join the work of caring for the 49

Taiwan (PCT) to local churches and institutions. In addition, a "New Normal Discussion" group was organised, inviting pastors of local churches to share their church’s response to the pandemic and discuss the direction of ministries in the "post-pandemic era." During the group discussion, most pastors mentioned the need for theological reflection, including topics such as " Ecclesiology", "Eschatology", "Missionary Mission", "Sacramental Theology" and "Indigenous Theological Development", etc. The pandemic has brought about an "opportunity" for church renewal. Generally speaking, this wave of pandemic has promoted the connection between the PCS and the local churches and has also facilitated the exchange of pastoral experiences and theological concepts among the pastors of the churches.

The pandemic has also spawned various issues such as racial discrimination, xenophobia, antagonism between the rich and the poor, and the rights of migrant workers. homeless. Affected by the pandemic, the number of homeless people has increased dramatically. The three churches opened unused church spaces to provide temporary shelter for short-term homeless people. One of the pastors described this as a ministry that builds up one another: whilst the needs of the disadvantaged are met, Christians also learn the lesson of "being a disciple." During the border closure period, many workers from Johor Bahru, Malaysia, who commuted to Singapore, chose to stay in Singapore to earn a living, but they were left homeless. Fortunately, local churches also opened their space and dormitories to accommodate these commuting groups of people. These are good testimonies of the Christian community amidst the plague disaster.

Due to the stricter pandemic prevention measures by the Government, the churches in Singapore have passively transformed and adopted modern digital equipment and technologies to meet various challenges. At the same time, they have also launched faith-related forums to reflect on and discuss counter-measures in the post-pandemic era. These experiences may serve as a reference to the universal church body.

Christians’ Reflection and Action Under the current impact of the pandemic, the focus of social attention is mostly on medical, technological, economic, and political issues. However, as far as Christianity is concerned, theological reflection and practice are the keys to enabling the church to witness God's love and salvation beyond adversities.

The Ministries of PCS – Localisation Apart from the transformation of the local church's ministries, the PCS also initiated an update of organisational functions. During the pandemic prevention period, the PCS staff accurately grasped the measures and laws of the public sector and disseminated them to the local churches quickly; not only did they serve as an information provider, they also became a platform for sharing resources, such as raising funds to relieve the plight of food shortage among the pastors in Nepal and allocating medical supplies donated by the Presbyterian Church in


Sharing of protective gears (gloves, mask, suit) from PCT to PCS.

A multiculturalism mural that reflects Singapore.

Facing Disasters

spread of the virus, causing tens of millions of people to be infected; and digital technology has become a tool to maintain the operation of society. Humans’ attitudes towards disasters are often What is the objective of "globalisation"? What is the fearful and awe-stricken, and COVID-19 is no difference between the universal (unity) movement exception. When faced with disasters, some and the global movement? Could "globalisation" be Christians often ask: "why" do such things happen? another construction project of the "Tower of Babel"? Some even blame it on men’s “sin” and God’s “condemnation” or judgment. The former is no doubt What is the role of viruses, bacteria and other creatures in the globalisation movement? The a subject that human-beings need to reflect on – pandemic has also spawned various issues such as wrong-doings must be corrected; as for the latter, racial discrimination, xenophobia, antagonism God’s sovereignty must be respected, and men between the rich and the poor, and the rights of should not speculate. If God is love, the occurrence migrant workers. These issues are gradually tearing of suffering may be a reminder for the world to turn the human community apart. How can the church, over their minds and lifestyles to maintain the which claims to be a messenger of peace, respond sustainable management of the created world. The church may need to pay more attention to what God to, and face these problems? wants us to do at this time to witness the love of POST COVID-19 – “Compassion Movement” Christ. Karen Armstrong regards "compassion" as a good way to alleviate human suffering and actively promotes the "Charter of Charity." Benevolence is a kind of compassion, a practical action of empathy and sympathy. It is often translated as "compassion" in the Bible, while the Hebrew word has the meaning of "womb", which is the place where life is born and protected. The "Benevolence Movement" is a caring action for all human-beings and creatures: when suffering comes to the world, no one can stay out of the way, because we are part of the world community. For Christians, this is the "Jesus Movement" or "God’s Kingdom Movement" – the unity and salvation of God's family (universality). People's fear of COVID-19 has caused estrangement and hostility between peoples, races, and nations, which require the power of love to stitch them New Variables of “Globalisation” together. The model of Jesus' "sacrificial love" is the model that the church must follow. Whether it is the For a long time, the theologians from the north and suffering of the local community or the needs of the the south hold different views on globalisation universal community, it is the mission of Christians issues. Scholars in the poorer regions of the South and the responsibility of all human-beings. Facing believe that globalisation will increase the power of Western colonial rule; whereas scholars in the North the post-pandemic era, let us practice the basic command of "kindness", which is also the teaching see it as an inevitable trend that will help human of Jesus' heavenly parable: "Truly I tell you, whatever economic and technological development. This plague has brought new variables: the transportation you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me!" (Matthew 25:40) system of the global village has contributed to the Taiwan's performance in this wave of pandemic prevention may be regarded as exemplary, for not only does it effectively curb the spread of the virus, it also activates warnings, shares pandemic prevention strategies and medical resources. According to the analysis of domestic pandemic prevention experts, this stellar performance is the result of the painful lesson of combating SARS in 2003. In other words, it is the experience and results of struggling and learning from suffering; it is a process of resurrection-that is, the core of Christianity, a model of theology from the cross to the resurrection. Therefore, in the face of disasters, we should strengthen our faith, and eventually develop tenacious vitality. 51


This article first appeared in the June 2019 issue of INSiGHT.

The Landing The poem was performed by Argentine performer and composer Leon Gieco and musician Lito Vitale. It can be viewed at

There are those who resist and never complain (Están los que resisten y nunca se lamentan) Those who say: "What do I live for" (Los que dicen: "yo para qué vivo") Those who recover fast their strength (Los que recuperan rápido sus fuerzas) Those who profit from what I have lost. (Los que lucran con lo que he perdido.)

Waiting for a new skin of this sun (Esperando una piel nueva de este sol) We do not pretend to see the change (No pretendemos ver el cambio) Only having left something (Sólo haber dejado algo) On the road traveled that happened. (Sobre el camino andado que pasó.)

There are those who yield and stands (Hay quien sucumbe y se levanta) There are those who stay there always lying (Hay quien queda allí siempre tendido) There are those who help you take off and those who never (Hay quien te ayuda a despegar y los que nunca) Recognize you when you are defeated. (Te reconocen cuando estás vencido.)

It's normal to see kids without shoes (Ya es normal ver chicos sin zapatos) Looking for food in the trash (Buscando comida en la basura) And it's a postcard the door of the church (Y es una postal la puerta de la iglesia) From that mother with her child. (De esa madre con su criatura.)

How many there are who think it's late for everything (Cuántos hay que piensan que es tarde para todo) And how many cry "always ahead!" (Y cuántos claman "¡siempre adelante!") How many who see the stone on the road (Cuántos los que ven la piedra en el camino) And how many who never look at anything. (Y cuántos los que nunca miran nada.)

While this happens there will be no glory (Mientras esto pase no habrá gloria) It's sand that escapes between your fingers (Es arena que se escapa entre los dedos) It's pain, it's lies, it's hypocrisy (Es dolor, es mentiras, es hipocresía) It's a fragile time these days. (Es un tiempo frágil de estos días.)

Joy with strength feeds (La alegría con la fuerza se alimenta) And there are no walls or bars that slow it down (Y no hay muros ni rejas que la frenen) There are those who land burning with a shout (Hay quienes desembarcan ardiendo con un grito) Without boats and without weapons for life. (Sin barcos y sin armas por la vida.)

Ignorance can sometimes with a people (La ignorancia a veces puede con un pueblo) And tyrants and executioners win (Y ganan tiranos y verdugos) We believe that the story was made in a minute (Creemos que la historia se hizo en un minuto) And everything lived, a bad dream. (Y todo lo vivido, un mal sueño.)

Is there someone who blesses this beautiful communion (Hay alguien que bendiga esta hermosa comunión) Of those that we thought seemed? (De los que pensamos parecido) We are the least, we never were the first (Somos los menos, nunca fuimos los primeros) We do not kill or die to win (No matamos ni morimos por ganar) Rather we are alive to walk (Mas bien estamos vivos por andar)

Sometimes we are our enemies (A veces somos nuestros enemigos) We polluted the routes and the rivers (Ensuciamos las rutas y los ríos) We kill in the war and in the streets today we have (Matamos en la guerra y en las calles hoy tenemos) Old monuments of murderers. (Viejos monumentos de asesinos.)


There are those who land burning with a shout (Hay quienes desembarcan ardiendo con un grito) Without boats and without weapons for life ... (Sin barcos y sin armas por la vida...)

This article first appeared in the June 2019 issue of INSiGHT.

FROM A VALLEY OF DRY BONES INTO A PLAYGROUND By Julian Ebenezer, Ferdinand Anno & Carleen Nomorosa

God of Life, we are living in a valley of dry bones We have lost our identity …we have lost our humanity We are unable to feel, we are so numb We are unable to reach out to the poor, to those we have segregated as religious and social outcast We have forgotten our being adamah: the tiller… the steward. The whole of creation groans in travail God of Life, we are living in a valley of dry bones We have lost our identity … we have lost our humanity Wars, killings, acts of terror and insurgencies surround us Deaths happen in every corner People are dying before their time every tick of the clock Children and women are being trafficked everyday in the millions Our communities are disintegrating and descending into chaos and lifelessness. God of Life, we are living in a valley of dry bones We have lost our identity, we have lost our humanity Descend upon us, once again May your Spirit, restore to wholeness our humanity May we image You, once again Enable us to touch our neighbors and build solidarities Enable us to build peace and institute justice in our relationships Enable us to break the barriers that are destroying our communities Enable us to bridge the gaps that separate us from each other Transform this valley of dry bones Into a playground of the children of God. Amen. A Prayer For the roads that we have blocked For the bridges that we didn’t build For the empty table that we didn’t fill Forgive us. I Shall Not I shall not mourn for deaths framed as self-defence Nor shall I mourn for children starved to death I won’t mourn for lands consumed by the selfish Or even lives denied by slave-shops Never! I will not give the rich the satisfaction of my vulnerability Instead, I mourn for the loss of their humanity And I mourn for the Nazarene Who worked so hard to redeem it So if ever my tears drop They send atomic ripples beneath ivory towers 53

SEEN & HEARD 20 November | World Children’s Day

Walt Streightiff

There are no seven wonders of the world in the eyes of a child. There are seven million.

25 November to 10 December 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence

Violence against women is never acceptable, never excusable, never tolerable. ~ Ban Ki-moon ~

~ Martin Luther King, Jr.


A Question of Humanity A young Ugandan woman, Angwech Collines, did what most people wouldn’t, when she rose up in aid of the children who have been inflicted by a mysterious and potentially fatal disease that would leave them in a zombie-like state, losing their ability to speak and with obvious mental impairment. With no known cure or proper diagnosis available, Angwech could only prepare the unfortunate children with skills that would enable them to sustain themselves with a livelihood for a better future than the situation that they are currently in.

Generation Like Social media has taken over our lives, especially the lives of the younger generation where their thoughts, opinions, likes and dislikes, fashion sense, decision making and even ethics for some…are shaped by the very online influences made so ever readily available via social media platforms online. Hence brings forth the Social Marketers or more commonly known as Social Influencers, who as their label suggests – shapes, mould and controls how you would engage to products and services offered by the corporations which hires them. 58 INSiGHT DECEMBER 2021

Asian Maids: Invisible Modern Slaves

Criminalising Women Why are the women in Australia criminalised more than ever before? They could be convicted from a myriad of offences be it serious or minor, but it doesn’t make a difference in landing them a trip into the gallows. These women are finding themselves in a vicious ending cycle of being locked up to the point where they are left to face so much stigma of society, leaving them unemployable, discriminated and vilified – which only turn them to commit to vices and crime.

Many Filipino women have chosen to work in the seemingly lucrative and highly sought-after market of domestic helpers in hope of becoming the financial support to the families they’ve left behind. However, without explicit laws to back them in Asia and the Middle East, many soon find that their voices are muted in the face of mistreatment, abuse and exploitation. A lot of these women have no avenues to turn to or they were not well informed of what they could do or who they should approach in such difficult times.

Germ Warefare: The Battle Against Superbugs Has our heavy reliance on antibiotics turned on us? Have we over conditioned our internal systems by pumping antibiotics at every infection that has destroyed our natural immunity and resistance towards bacteria? Studies have shown that bacteria has increasingly demonstrated its resistance towards antibiotics, hence the emergence of the Superbugs, where fatalities are guaranteed and unstoppable. It doesn’t help that Superbugs can thrive in our most common environments, leaving us highly susceptible at contracting them.

Origin of the Species

The Chinese World Order

The future to which what Artificial Intelligence (AI) would bring humanity is fraught with mixed sentiments. Will humans become over reliant on robotics and will that bring the downside of society? The very thought of such advancements could bring both excitement as well as anxiety as significant progress often comes with levels of uncertainties. As robots tend to look, talk and move like us, would we be able to trust that the very machines we’ve created would not potentially become a threat to us?

China has demonstrated its ambition with globalisation. It has started to invest and finance heavily with infrastructures which enables world trade – with it in the center of it all. Many countries have shown support to their initiative at bridging trade globally but some are wary and anxious at China dominating world trade would bring about and at what cost to the world? Has China’s exponentially increasing influence over certain countries rendered them as mere pawns on an intricate but long game of chess?

Where Childhood Died In the Syrian conflict, young children were exploited by rebel insurgents through forced conscription, exposing them to the atrocities and violence of war. Witnessing the morbidity and barbarism in the actions of their captors, many are deeply scarred emotionally and physically and are unable to free themselves of the horror they’ve witnessed and partook in even after the aftermath.

Poor Kids Through the eyes and perspectives of young children living in extreme poverty in the USA, we are brought into their realities, in witnessing how has the economic crisis been so detrimental to their lives as well as their families. Without jobs for their parents, many of the future of these children hang on a balance of great uncertainties as they are not able to receive the education, they would require to get them out of the perpetual cycle of this predicament - as much as they are trying to turn the tide against them, deep down they know it’s futile.

White Fright It is scary how white privilege runs low under the radar in the United States of America with the support from the very authorities that are expected to be protectors of the people, regardless creed or race. When a 63-year-old white man of Christian faith plotted an insidious plan to massacre an African American Muslim community, targeting a school and place of worship, he was apprehended and released with neither repercussion nor punishment for his actions. 59


“The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.”

Council for World Mission Ltd 114 Lavender Street, #12-01, CT Hub 2, Singapore 338729 T (65) 6887 3400 F (65) 6235 7760 E W Company Limited by Guarantee Registered in Singapore Unique Entity Number 201206146Z Copyright © 2021 Council for World Mission Ltd. All Rights Reserved. Content may not be reproduced, downloaded, disseminated, published or transferred in any form or by any means, except with the prior written permission of Council for World Mission Ltd.

Articles inside

From the Valley of Dry Bones into a Playground article cover image

From the Valley of Dry Bones into a Playground

pages 55-64
The Landing article cover image

The Landing

page 54
POST-COVID-19 Pastoral Care Reflection and Action article cover image

POST-COVID-19 Pastoral Care Reflection and Action

pages 50-53
The Multiple Intersections of Religion, Labour, and Class article cover image

The Multiple Intersections of Religion, Labour, and Class

pages 44-49
“Mission in Bold Humility ” - Bernard Thorogood article cover image

“Mission in Bold Humility ” - Bernard Thorogood

pages 36-43
Being a woman in the context of racial discourse and tension (Theology unscripted) article cover image

Being a woman in the context of racial discourse and tension (Theology unscripted)

pages 21-23
The London Missionary Society article cover image

The London Missionary Society

pages 24-28
re-producing racism and Mary ’s talking back rap article cover image

re-producing racism and Mary ’s talking back rap

pages 29-31
A Long Night’s Work and Empty Nets article cover image

A Long Night’s Work and Empty Nets

pages 32-35
TIM2019: We TOGETHER lived, loved, laughed, faced, fell, flew sang, studied, survived. article cover image

TIM2019: We TOGETHER lived, loved, laughed, faced, fell, flew sang, studied, survived.

pages 18-20
Rising to Life: Celebrating the sowers and the seeds of Forty years of ‘Training in Mission’ article cover image

Rising to Life: Celebrating the sowers and the seeds of Forty years of ‘Training in Mission’

page 17
COP26 side event “Tax the rich, save the planet” discussion centres on equity, reparations article cover image

COP26 side event “Tax the rich, save the planet” discussion centres on equity, reparations

page 16
Ecumenical leaders urge G20 to take urgent climate action article cover image

Ecumenical leaders urge G20 to take urgent climate action

page 15
Greeting to the Gathering of CWM Former Missionaries article cover image

Greeting to the Gathering of CWM Former Missionaries

pages 10-11
CWM Pacific Region Youth Initiatve: Rising to Life with Jesus article cover image

CWM Pacific Region Youth Initiatve: Rising to Life with Jesus

page 13
Call for a Prophetic Dialogue article cover image

Call for a Prophetic Dialogue

page 12
God With Us Christmas Message 2021 article cover image

God With Us Christmas Message 2021

pages 4-5
Member Church News article cover image

Member Church News

pages 6-9
Zacchaeus Tax toolkit launched to equip churches to tackle tax justice article cover image

Zacchaeus Tax toolkit launched to equip churches to tackle tax justice

page 14