I’ve just recently returned from a seven day visit to Accra, Ghana, a city of 2.5 million people in West Africa. The purpose of the trip was to spend mentoring time with John-Mark and Loreli Cockram and their two girls, Mallory and Sophia. The Cockrams are from the Barrie FMC and are doing a two year assignment in Ghana. Their job description is to help Ghana FM leaders in achieving their ministry goals.
One aspect of my visit was to finalize a partnership arrangement. The finished product talks about an agreement between Barrie Free Methodist Church, Ghana Mission District, The Free Methodist Church in Canada and Free Methodist World Missions (US FM mission dept.). That is a pretty unique arrangement, all things being considered! The relationship is primarily between Barrie FMC and leaders in the Ghana Mission District; the other two partners only play a support role.
I am often asked about what “head office” is doing regarding global ministries. When I look at our local churches across the country that are actively involved in global ministries, the answer is simple.
The national Ministry Centre’s role is to help local churches reach their vision goals.
With Barrie FMC the process started in the fall of 2004, when local mission team members invited me to do a workshop with leadership in their church. Out of this process the church discerned their interest in ministry in West Africa. I was able to share with them various opportunities through FM ministries in a half dozen countries in that region. They settled on Ghana. My next step was to help them make connections with Pastor Charles Tetteh, the leader of FM work in Accra, Ghana.
In the summer of 2005, the church sent an exploratory team to Accra, to further investigate ministry partnership possibilities. During that visit, a commitment was made to help the Ghana FM leaders to plant a new church and develop a school in a community just outside Accra.
By August 2006, Barrie was sending a family to Ghana to be their link in this partnership for the next two years. Hence, my visit to the Cockrams in Accra. Again, the national Ministry Centre’s role has been to facilitate training, build connections, provide information, and mentoring where requested – not to control or direct, or give a stamp of legitimacy.
For several years New Horizon Community Church in Sarnia, ON along with Trulls Road FMC in Courtice, ON and Crossroads FMC in Salmon Arm, BC, have been involved in a church planting partnership in Hyderabad, India. This fall Pastor Vern Frudd from Centennial Chapel in Kamloops, BC joined Pastor Doug Griffin from Sarnia to provide Wesleyan Theology training for groups of pastors in India over a three week period.
The Hyderabad partnership has developed with minimal involvement from the national Ministry Centre – just a little bit of advice and some seed money every once in a while. In 2007, however, we are moving to a new level where the churches in this partnership are requesting a larger financial involvement from our Global Ministries Giving Stream to help fund more church planters and encourage the momentum of active ministry in India. That is, other FM churches can join this partnership by supporting “India” ministries through Giving Streams.
In January I travelled to Thailand with Pastor Greg and Erin Elford, from Mission, BC. This church in the Fraser Valley, has already sent two teams to Thailand in the past couple of years, through natural connections in their own congregation – a local church initiative. Now they are looking at building a more intentional relationship with FM leaders in Thailand. Our visit together allowed them to spend several days with these Thai leaders in strategic planning sessions.
Through numerous conversations we discussed the role of Canadian congregations sensitively encouraging national ministry initiatives. So, what is the national Ministry Centre doing? We’re working with churches that have a vision of what God has called them to do in the world.
At the same time, many of our churches have an interest in global ministries, but are not ready for taking on their own initiatives. These churches continue to give actively to the Global Ministries Giving Stream, collectively supporting our long-term missionaries in Central Africa – Lois Meredith, Linda Stryker and Debbie Hogeboom. Other undesignated funds are directed toward some of these partnerships mentioned above.
If you are interested in learning more about these partnerships, many of them are listed under Mission Projects in the Global Ministries section of our website. www.fmc-canada.org/global/and-beyond.html
If you would like more information about developing your own global ministries initiative feel free to contact me. [email protected]
Rev. Dan Sheffield is Director of Intercultural and Global Missions for The Free Methodist Church in Canada