“Then, after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.” Acts 13:3
We’ve probably mentioned several times in the course of this blog that we are in the midst of the ‘Sending Interpretation Assignment’ part of our ministry in Guatemala. Just as a reminder, the ‘Sending IA’ for new mission co-workers is the process of contacting and visiting individuals, groups, and congregations that potentially share a passion with us for the work we will be doing. This vital building of connections from within and without our denomination is key to affirming the partnership between those in the field and those back at home in the US. Mission co-workers simply cannot perform their ministries without the prayerful (praying for us), connectional (corresponding with us), and practical (financial) support of the communities of faith that send us to the field.
I can think of fewer occasions where affirmation of this connection is celebrated more than in a service of commissioning. It’s a formal and public expression of the commitment mission workers and their supporting communities make to one another and say “we’re in this together!” Since beginning this new journey, we’ve had the opportunity to be a part of several commissioning services. Each one has been special and meaningful in its own way. First, our home congregation, Knox Presbyterian Church, sent us off to orientation with prayers and affirmations of our new work. At orientation, we participated in the New Wilmington Mission Conference. There we gathered with new and long-time mission workers as the entire assembly affirmed their connection and commitment to us. At the ‘Big Tent’ gathering in Louisville, KY, we joined other new and reassigned mission co-workers before a large supportive crowd of Presbyterian mission supporters as our moderator and the executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency reaffirmed our vows of commitment to one another and the work we are being called into. Finally, at a meeting of our home presbytery (Presbytery of the Inland Northwest), on the university campus where we first met (Whitworth University) we stood before our own presbytery, surrounded by so many who have nurtured us on this journey and declared once more that we are united and connected by the work and calling to serve one another (see photo).
Richard and Debbie