One body, one faith
Posted on May 29, 2012 by VMMissions Staff
“There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.” Ephesians 4:4-6
Arriving in Jamaica on March 1, I was immediately captivated by the blue-green sparkling waters, vibrant flowers and hot breeze. But even more fascinating than the tropical island was my experience as a fraternal delegate to the Jamaica Mennonite Church (JMC) 54th annual conference. A sense of unity overwhelmed me as I recognized that JMC and VMC share similar hopes and concerns, as we worship the same God and are members of Christ’s body.
As I listened to pastors and delegates from the 12 JMC congregations, I noted a variety of topics addressed as areas for growth and discernment:
• investing in youth ministry
• raising up leaders within congregations
• adequate pastor salaries
• data reflecting attendance vs.membership
• congregational giving
• responding to homosexuality
• congregational goal setting
• male participation in the church
• recruiting committed volunteers
Sound familiar? Eating my supper of curried goat, red peas and rice in the balmy evening air, I remarked to JMC acting president Linda Campbell about the similarities between issues emerging at JMC and VMC delegate sessions. “Yes,” Linda responded, “and these are the same things Paul wrote about.” What an affirmation that no matter when and where we find ourselves as a faith community, God is present, often revealed in similar ways, and the same Spirit guides our responses.
Our unity with Mennonites across cultures means that we encourage, connect to, share with, and learn from one another. I was encouraged by the number of JMC leaders I met who were young adults and women.
I was also impressed with the high level of accountability. Pastors shared narrative and financial reports, then fielded questions of clarification and challenge from the delegate body. At times I was uneasy with the rising tension, but I realized the conflict rose out of love rather than hostility.
My experience at the JMC annual conference leads me to ask two questions in my work with VMC: How are we empowering a diverse representation of our members to become church leaders? What are our mechanisms within VMC for honest exchanges in a spirit of love and accountability?
Photo caption: (L to R) Pastor Donovan Maitland, Pastor William Broughton, Aaron Kauffman, VMM Director of Global Ministries, Sarah Bixler, Ramon and Kamla Goodridge, Trinidad delegates, and Linda Campbell, JMC Acting President. Courtesy of Gloria Lehman