Roundtable participants learn partnership is long-term commitment
The regional coordinator for the Global Community Health Evangelism (CHE) Network spoke at the March gathering of the Central Asia 50/50 In Mission Together partners in Atlanta. David Phipps, a member of Ginghamsburg United Methodist Church in Ohio, said CHE’s history of success illustrates what happens as partners begin to work together.
By Sandra Brands
April 23, 2013—David Phipps is passionate about building long-term relationships with people around the world so they can help change their communities at the grassroots level.
A regional coordinator for the Global Community Health Evangelism (CHE) Network, Phipps has seen long-term commitments and relationship-building be key to making sustainable changes that address the causes of the needs of people and communities.
That philosophy echoes the foundations of Global Ministries’ 50/50 In Mission Together partnerships. It made it appropriate for Phipps, a member of Ginghamsburg United Methodist Church in Ohio, to speak at the Central Asia Roundtable in Atlanta in early March.
Skype allowed more than 50 people from the United States and approximately the same number gathered in Kyrgyzstan to be part of the roundtable conversations focusing on 50/50 In Mission Together. Another 150 joined them for worship via Skype. The technology allowed everyone to connect with one another, said the Rev. James Kim, co-chair of the Central Asia Roundtable. Also the senior pastor of Korean (United Methodist) Church of Atlanta, Kim added that even those who had never been on a mission trip got a sense of what it meant to be in mission together.
It “was eye-opening to our members that we could worship with people in a different part of the earth,” Kim said. “And we used the tool [Skype] to hold a meeting together. (Those in Kyrgyzstan) were ready to present their needs and their concerns.”
“CHE is people- and long-term oriented,” Phipps told the roundtable participants. “That meshes perfectly with the 50/50 partnership. We go in [to communities] respecting each other, treating each partner with dignity and respect and believing each has something to give and to teach.”
Kim said Phipps’ presentations helped those attending “see the importance of looking through the eyes and minds of the people in the mission field rather than going in with the imperialistic attitude that we know it all and can solve your problems. He helped us see (In Mission Together partnerships) from the other side and helped us see how to develop relationships as partners.
“It was a simple but very important teaching he brought to us.”
Phipps found the use of technology inspiring and said he is eager to bring the experience back to CHE. “The idea of getting practitioners together via Skype from around the world is an awesome idea,” he said. “When they had roundtable talk, they Skyped in from Central Asia and they shared about their ministry and their successes and some of the things they could use help with from partners.”
Global Ministries, Phipps said, “offers a bright light in a dark place of United Methodist missions. Many United Methodists still cling to the idea that they are going to go fix people in a week. The 50/50 partnership knows you can’t fix people in a week, that it takes a long-term partnership where everyone has something to contribute and learn. Sometimes people enter the mission field thinking they have all the answers. That’s not the case. It’s even hard to have one answer until you’re sure what’s going on on the ground.”
CHE’s experience and history of success in long-term community- and asset-based development can help 50/50 In Mission Together partnerships, he said. “We have a lot of lessons on a lot of different topics that can be shared in different communities. We can give them an opportunity to see CHE in practice and have some context, and they can replicate that example.
“Our point is to empower people, to encourage partners to help when asked and then to stay out of the way so [the partners living in the area] can do what they need to do,” he said. “We don’t want to be mothers hovering over their children; part of growth is encountering problems and working to solve them. You try to help them do that, to be a resource as needed.”
Learn more about the work of the General Board of Global Ministries, its ministry with the poor and opportunities to partner in mission with a global church.
Contact: Melissa Hinnen, public information officer, 212-870-3833, MHinnen@umcmission.org.