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Rooted In Faith - Caring For People


The Need for Mission and Dialogue in Today's World

 

 

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Fraternal Address at the Synode of mission21,
June 7, 2013, St. Gallen,
by Rev. Dr. Dölf Weder, President of Executive Council

 

A Warm Welcome

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
it gives me great pleasure to welcome you all here in the Canton and City of St. Gallen.

We are a comparably small protestant church her in the north-east of Switzerland. We have some 110’000 members in 52 parishes. They cover the city of St. Gallen, a number of urban towns and agglomerations, as well as some really small communities in rural areas. Our smallest parish counts 159 members only.

You come from all around the World. And you have come here to work as a worldwide brother- and sisterhood in Christ, to discuss important topics of Mission in today’s World.

I convey to you the warm regards of the Executive Council of the Protestant-Reformed Church here in the Canton of St. Gallen. May our Lord be with you in all your discussions. May He grant you wisdom in your decisions and bless all your important work back home.

It is not by chance that our Council decided to invite you here for your Mission Synode 2013 Our Church has a long standing history and tradition of supporting Mission and Dialogue in a worldwide dimension.

 

Mission and Dialogue Are Essential Parts of any Church's Mission

Mission and Dialogue are simply an essential part of any Church’s identity and mission. There is no Church without Mission and Dialogue. That we can see already in the texts of the New Testament.

I myself am also personally very much influenced and shaped by international work. I was employed during 17 years by the YMCA, the worldwide Christian youth organization; 10 years as its Secretary General for Europe.

Working with and traveling in around 50 countries during that time, greatly influenced my view of the World, and deeply shaped my personal Christian faith and life. You simply think, believe and act differently after such experience.

Being in open and honest dialogue and interaction with Christian sisters and brothers all over the world is so important and enriching for all of us – and even more so in today’s ever globalizing world.

But Mission is more than changing the thoughts and believes of human beings only. – It always has been more.

It’s not only about thinking and talking. It’s also about practical action – always has been.

In Christian faith, words and deeds go together. “Walk your talk”. I add: “And sometimes talk about why you walk”.

Mission is about mutual sharing one’s resources. Resources are believes and thoughts. Resources are people and money. Resources are agricultural knowledge, are human rights and community building know-how. And a lot more. 

In earlier times, Christians in the Western World were not always enough aware that Mission is not a one-way exercise – but mutual sharing.

I’m not even sure whether all of us Northerners are enough clear about that today - I doubt. 

But when looking at our secularized, so called Christian societies here in the North, one simply must become aware how important the faith and the Christian commitment of the Christians in the South have become for our Churches here.

We here in the Western North need you, dear Sisters and Brothers in the South!

We need your commitment. We need your faith. We need your way of believing. And we need your challenging us.

It is quite on that line, that your Board proposed you today an interesting change in your constitution. Besides the already existing Continental Assemblies for Africa, Asia and Latin America, a new one for Europe shall be established. In future, four Continental Assemblies shall together, – and with equal rights – shape the identity and direction of mission21.

German, Swiss and other churches have been called to get involved and actively participate in this participatory process. Our St. Gallen Church already has decided to do so. 

There are some other constitutional matters you have to decide on today: legal matters and changes because of developments in society’s understanding of what kind of activity is considered charitable and of public interest here in Switzerland.

Missions, as Churches, sometimes are forced to adapt to changing realities around them. In my opinion that’s not really a problem in this case.

 

Rooted in Faith, Caring for People

What really matters is that we remain true to our identity and mission in all our actions.

And what is essential for our identity and mission? - Both as a Mission organization and as a Church?

I want to answer this question by quoting the Vision Statement of our St. Gallen Church:

We want to be a Church “nahe bei Gott – nahe bei den Menschen” - „close to God – close to the people“.

In my opinion, this also very well summarizes the essential task of any Mission organization: To be rooted in the faith in God and Jesus Christ. And to be close to the real people in their everyday life.

These two things belong together in Christian faith. They are inseparable. You cannot be close to God without caring for the people around you. And you cannot really understand the people around you and care for them, if you do not see them in the light of God’s love for them.

Jesus Christ lived that in a way we can never reach. But he opened us our eyes for God’s love and for the needs of our neighbors.

Dear friends, dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ, I wish you that you in your personal lives, as well as responsible persons for Mission 21 may be “close to God – close to the people”.

And I wish you that you have fruitful discussions and take wise decisions during your stay here in St. Gallen.

We fully support you. May God bless you.

Thank you.

 

 

 

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Inhalt

A Warm Welcome

Mission and Dialogue Are Essential Parts of any Church's Mission

Rooted in Faith, Caring for People

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is no Church without Mission and Dialogue.

 

 

 

 

You simply think, believe and act differently after international experiences.

 

 

 

In Christian faith, words and deeds go together.

 

 

Mission is about mutual sharing one’s resources.

 

 

 

 

We here in the Western North need you, dear Sisters and Brothers in the South!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What really matters is that we remain true to our identity and mission in all our actions.

 

 

 

The essential task of any Mission organization: To be rooted in the faith in God and Jesus Christ. And to be close to the real people in their everyday life.