Pledge to Work Collectively to Be More Effective in Mission
YANGON, Myanmar/GENEVA, 1 June 2012 (LWI) – Representatives from Lutheran churches in Asia’s Mekong region have underlined gender justice and women’s ordination as priorities, following an appeal to address the growing inequalities in the participation and leadership of women among churches there.
Addressing the Mekong Mission Forum (MMF) and Partners’ Consultation held 16-20 May at Yangon, Myanmar, Myanmar theologian Dr Anna May Say Pa called for the rejection of “religious and cultural norms and practice that denigrate and marginalize people because of race, sex, age, class among others” and pressed for empowerment and opportunities for the marginalized, including the indigenous.
She appealed for leadership models that are based on the servanthood of Jesus rather than on power and exclusion.
Pa, former principal of the Myanmar Institute of Theology, urged the 60 delegates from The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) member churches in the Mekong region, mission agencies and consultants to take up an ecumenical approach to leadership that would transform and empower the church.
Discussion focused on transformation, empowerment and reconciliation within the diaconal life of the churches and they were urged to work collectively and ecumenically to be more effective in their mission in society and to emphasize the “priesthood of all believers” as they engage in the world.
The MMF consultation rejected “top-down” and “giver-receiver” mission models, calling for the equipping of people for self-sustenance and independence. There were also pleas for reconciliation where conflict exists within or among churches and in society at large.
Participants proposed greater emphasis on capacity building in holistic mission, especially in diakonia and proclamation, and emergency preparedness, and engagement in disaster response. They noted the continuing need for training and empowerment, advancement in theological education and information sharing and cooperation among MMF members.
Greater awareness and ownership of diakonia in the churches also were needed, the representatives indicated.
MMF moderator, Rev. Dr Traugott Farnbacher, secretary for Papua New Guinea, Pacific and East Asia for Mission OneWorld, expressed hope that the meeting would help enhance future engagement among MMF members.
LWF Asia secretary Rev. Dr William Chang emphasized the urgency of empowering Lutheran churches in the region to engage in holistic mission, especially proclamation, and a holistic response in particular to the needs of marginalized people, citing emergency preparedness in areas that are prone to storms, flooding or drought, among other disasters.
The MMF is comprised of churches in Cambodia, Hong Kong, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, and partners from Australia, Europe and the United States of America. It meets annually to facilitate cooperation, with the LWF Asia Desk serving in a coordinating role. (450 words)