New Co-operation in Holistic Mission

2017. december 03., vasárnap

The Secretary General of the United Evangelical Mission (VEM), Germany, met with the representatives of our Church between 11 and 14 November and considered joint responsibility in mission co-operation and public responsibility.

Our German partner churches in Rhineland, Westphalia, and Lippe, all members of the United Evangelical Mission (VEM), started to consider the opportunity of extending the cooperation and membership of the European region, which is limited to German churches for now. This might also involve the Reformed Church in Hungary in the future. General Secretary Volker Dally and Deputy Secretary General Jochen Motte, head of the department "Justice, Peace and the Integrity of the Created World" visited Budapest and Debrecen to explore the concrete areas of cooperation after preliminary consultations. During the visit, the German delegation met with many representatives of RCH, to consider the possibility of co-operation in the fields of evangelism, mission, diaconia, development projects, formal and informal training, and common reflection and representation human rights values from Christian perspective.

Partnership and cooperation in the spirit of enlargement

During the weekend, the Secretary-General met with Zsigmond Vad, the Dean of the Debrecen presbytery and Convener of the Synod Committee on Ecumenical and International Affairs, visiting the Reformed University of Debrecen and preached at the German-speaking Reformed Church in Budapest. He then shared his views with Eszter Dani, Head of the Mission Department, with whom he agreed on the possibilities of cooperation in the field of Roma mission, community development, reconciliation initiatives and mission training, as well as common wider mission initiatives.

Dóra Kanizsai, head of the refugee integration department in the Diaconal Office assessed the possibility of VEM supporting RCH's mission to the Refugees, be it a theological discussion, sensitization, or the professional and financial support of specific programs in relation to the challenges of refugee integration in Hungary. The delegation visited Kalunba Services Ltd, a non-profit organization that is RCH’s contracted implementing partner in refugee integration. A human rights forum was held at the Scottish Mission in Budapest with the participation of ecumenical partner organizations of the Refugee Ministry.

The thematic focus of the visit was the appreciation of the necessity of the relationship between human rights and Christian witness, as well as the necessity of church action against human rights violations. In this spirit, the delegation visited the Faculty of Law at the Károli Gáspár Reformed University, where Jochen Motte addressed the human rights challenges from a global perspective, highlighting the concerns of the churches regarding nationalist and populist political trends that threaten all of Europe, both human dignity and rule of law.

In the course of the consultations, different ideas for the future cooperation were expressed. Participation of young church members in the VEM African and Asian programs, initiating development projects in Transcarpathia and cooperation in the Refugee and Roma ministry, especially in the field of theological and general reflection regarding human rights were some of those.

International ecclesiastical community serving the mission

The VEM is a community of African, Asian and German Protestant Churches. The governing body of the organization provides an equal number of representations to all three regions, but the composition of the assembly reflects the majority presence of African and Asian churches. VEM is the predecessor of the 1828-based Rhine, Bethel, established in 1886 and the Zaire Mission, founded in 1965. VEM has been an international organization since 1996, with a headquarters in Germany.

The mission of VEM is holistic, including as an integral part the proclamation of the gospel, diaconia, advocacy, development projects and partnerships. As a global organization, VEM operates in Africa, Asia, and in Germany, taking into account local needs. The organization stresses that partners shall share their gifts and resources with each other, including their staff and volunteers in exchange programs.

VEM also strongly supports local initiatives to promote peacebuilding and reconciliation and respect for human rights. The organization considers it important to draw attention also to cases where human rights are being violated within Germany. The human rights violations and issues raised by the partners are discussed in the Human Rights Forum (Forum Menschenrechte). Along with the Ecumenical Partners, VEM is representing its partner organizations in the Southern Hemisphere, among others, in UN organizations, including the annual meetings of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and allowing the participation of representatives of the relevant churches at these meetings. RCH’s commitment to cooperate in this issue was also confirmed during the visit.

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We encourage you to read our GM intern Kearstin Bailey's blog about her time in Hungary.