TAC Representatives Visit Texas Border as Part of Mexico Border Partnership Initiative
Travelers explored the concept of shared discipleship and training, worship, a youth camp, as well as assistance with construction of sanctuaries, education buildings, and parsonages.
In years past, the temptation in mission engagement was to go somewhere and do something for someone else. “Now we are moving to a model of being in ministry with another community,” explains Rev. Scott Moore, who directs the TAC Mission Center and will head the Center for Missional Excellence beginning this July. The 50/50 ‘In Mission Together’ model, conceived by the General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM), looks at both partners as equals and allows both communities to share their gifts and graces together for the Kingdom of God.
The most recent example of this model in action took place at the end of March when representatives from six TAC churches, Lakeview Methodist Conference Center, and the Center for Missional Excellence visited the Texas/Mexico border to meet with representatives from the Rio Texas Conference and the Mexican Methodist Church as part of a new Border Partnership Initiative.
The trip, explains Scott, “is part of a new mission initiative birthed through the TAC Center for Missional Excellence, the El Valle District of the Rio Texas Conference and General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM) Missionary Willie Berman. The group is beginning this partnership from an asset-based approach rather than a needs-based approach.”
Adds Scott, “We are looking to this mission field and asking ‘what do we have to share with that community, and what do they have to share with us?’” Using 1 Corinthians 12:12-31 (many members of one body of Christ) as a guide, partner churches share their unique talents and callings for ministry.
Notes Scott, “During this trip we discussed ideas for partnership in the area of shared discipleship and training sessions, shared worship experiences, a shared youth camp experience, as well as assistance with construction of sanctuaries, education buildings, and parsonages.”
Churches represented from the Texas Annual Conference included Kirbyville UMC, Faith UMC – Orange, Livingston FUMC, FUMC-Conroe, FUMC-Humble, and Christ Church UMC – Sugar Land. Representatives from the Center for Missional Excellence and Lakeview Methodist Conference Center attended to explore conference-wide partnership possibilities.
Participant Rev. Matt Idom says, “Lakeview Methodist Conference Center is excited to begin a partnership with the Methodists of Mexico with the ambition of helping create a camping ministry for children and youth. We have already begun work to begin a ministry together.”
As a first step, he has extended an invitation for a number of older Mexican teens and adult youth leaders to attend camp this summer at Lakeview. “Not only will they get to experience camp, “ he says, “we will train them for leadership when they return home. Funding is available for this to happen this summer!”
Likewise, camping leaders are discussing the possibilities of their summer staff of college leaders traveling to Mexico in 2018 to help conduct either a week of residential camp or a week of day camp. Adds Matt, “There is a facility available at the border that would house close to 100 campers including a dining hall and worship center, so we are particularly excited to be part of this ministry partnership.”
Rev. Janet Stilwell, associate pastor of FUMC Conroe, attended the 50/50 border partnership trip looking at ways for her church to participate in a mission trip that would be accessible to a larger number of people in the congregation. “The border presents a great opportunity to do international missions closer to home,” she shares.
“When I was able to meet around the table with pastors from both sides of the border, my focus for the trip shifted. Instead of seeing churches that needed our help, I saw churches working toward discipling their members and new believers in unique and powerful ways. It was inspiring to hear their enthusiasm toward their ministries. I could see how TAC and my church would be called to not simply help, but participate alongside the efforts already taking place. We also imagined how these creative congregations could be a part of what we are doing in our conference and community through video links and other possible collaborations.”
Janet sees great possibilities for smaller churches to join together by forming relationships with churches at the border. She explains, “The first and most important step is getting to know one another. This doesn’t take a lot of training, just a willingness to be open to a new kind of relationship. The training really consists of recognizing that we are not being sent there because they need our resources, but we are being called there to find Christ and Christ’s work.”
For information on the next 50/50 In Mission Together training contact Christine Riggle at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Mission Center at 936-788-6650.
Adds Janet, “We are in the very preliminary steps at this point, but I can see great possibilities ahead. I like that churches can participate individually, in collaboration with other churches, or even as districts. The key thing for me is the relationship component that enables God’s Kingdom to be so readily evident.”