Dear friends in Christ:
Mission takes money! That is not news to you, of course. Mission definitely requires a lot of prayer, patience, and perseverance. It requires people who seek always to be in right relationship with God and each other. It requires movement, and backup. And, almost always, mission requires money.
We in the church dream big dreams, struggling to follow Jesus and reminding ourselves that the early disciples faced challenges far more daunting than our own. Rarely is the funding ready to hand! But we find it, because we believe in our mission. Experience has shown me that money follows mission and that God is faithful. If you’re on the right track, the money will come!
This year’s World Mission Sunday theme is “Treasuring the Communion,” and it’s a good time in the life of our church to think about what we value, and how we express our commitment to what we value. As Christians, we treasure everything that communion represents – at the altar, in our spiritual lives, and in our communities. As Episcopalians, we treasure being part of the Anglican Communion, a worldwide family of churches whose exciting history and splendid diversity are almost without parallel.
The Episcopal Church believes in the Anglican Communion, and because we believe in it, we invest in it. We commit not only the treasure of money, but also the treasure of ourselves. At the national level, one quarter of our church’s annual budget is devoted to nurturing global mission and Anglican relationships – a total of $6.6 million. Approximately 16% of the Anglican and Global Relations budget supports missionaries who go out from the USA; another 31% supports the clergy, laity and bishops of our 12 overseas dioceses and jurisdictions, and the rest goes to provide base budget support for Anglican provinces, covenants, and agencies such as the Anglican Communion Office.
This is serious money, as they say, but it’s only a fraction of what Episcopalians contribute to God’s work in the world. Each year, approximately $3 million is gathered in for the United Thank Offering, and given back out in grants both domestic and foreign. The generosity of Episcopalians’ response to emergencies is legendary – Episcopal Relief and Development reports that more than $1 million has come in so far to help alleviate the cataclysmic effect of the Dec. 26 tsunami in the Indian Ocean, nearly $1 million to help restore peace, safety and fruitfulness to Sudan, millions more to address the heartbreaking challenge of HIV/AIDS in Africa. Every year on Good Friday, more than $300,000 is given to support the four dioceses of the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East.
Still, this is only a small part of the story. Almost all of our dioceses have companion relationships with dioceses (or even whole provinces) elsewhere in the Anglican Communion. Commitments of cash are usually significant, but more important is the traveling back and forth to get to know each other, the sharing of time to build a vision, the working side by side to realize dreams of a better world. As the Scripture quote on the enclosed poster makes plain, generosity in works is valued as much as open-handedness.
And what about the parishes? You can tell that story – perhaps your congregation relates to another within the companion diocese link, or supports projects in parts of the world where parishioners have special ties. Perhaps you have sent youth groups on short mission exposure or work trips. Perhaps you have exchanged places with a seminary classmate who hailed from some exotic place where now you can feel at home.
The last Sunday after Epiphany (February 6 this year), is designated by our church for the observance of World Mission Sunday. For six years now, I and my colleagues have produced posters and other resources that may be useful in this regard. On the website http://www.episcopalchurch.org/page/world-mission-sunday, you will find not only the resources for “Treasuring the Communion” but also all the materials prepared for previous themes. They can be used at any time – the themes are timeless, and the resources are not dated. Large full-color posters may be obtained from Episcopal Parish Services; the rest of the material may be downloaded from the website and duplicated at will. There are bulletin shells and inserts, homiletical notes for sermon preparation, and other helpful items.
If you have prepared your own special materials for World Mission Sunday, focusing on a theme or relationship of immediate relevance to life in your parish, I would be most interested to have copies, and with your permission, to post them on the website for others to see. And, of course, feedback on each year’s theme offering is much appreciated by this office. Please don’t hesitate to e-mail me at email@example.com.
As we go forward in our common journey, may God bless us in our mission, local and global, now and forever.
Margaret S. Larom
Director, Anglican and Global Relations
P.S. Please note that on January 3, I moved from the position of World Mission Interpretation and Networks Officer to Director of Anglican and Global Relations. Ms. Tracy Andrés (firstname.lastname@example.org), will continue as assistant in the WMIN office, and Ms. Sonia Omulepu (email@example.com), formerly the Interfaith Education Initiative coordinator, has joined AGR as Mission Education Coordinator, to help carry out some special initiatives related to the Standing Commission on World Mission and the study process for its vision document, Companions in Transformation.