As August draws to a close and most return home from summer holidays, one priest brings out some souvenirs as he unpacks his role for the last time.
Can you guess the source of this headline? It is in fact taken from a recent article in The Guardian which went on to say that even ‘China Petro-Chemical, the largest corporation in the world with a labour force of around 1,190,000 employees, is still at least a thousand times smaller than this global movement’. In 2020 there were an estimated 2.4 billion Christians, making up approximately a third of the world’s population.
We are accustomed to receiving global news instantly and the current pandemic and the climate crisis underline our interdependence with everyone on this planet. And yet many of us find it hard to see the bigger picture. Milton Jones, a comedian who is something of an expert in humorous one-liners and a recurring guest panellist on ‘Mock the Week’ suggested poignantly that “The biggest question the church is asking the world is: Can we have some money for a new roof?”
I remember celebrating Easter Morning on the border of Uganda with a congregation of Anglican Christians. There were no church roofs to worry about – we met in the shade of some large trees. Many had walked considerable distances from the surrounding villages to be there and brought with them costly and sacrificial gifts such as eggs, chickens, cassava and in some cases money for the much-extended time of joy-filled offering. Afterwards we shared in a magnificent feast at which all were welcome.
I have been so blessed and enriched through my friendships and encounters with the world-wide church. Lichfield Diocese has for many years taken very seriously its part in the world- wide Anglican Communion through partnerships and links with other dioceses. Currently, as I anticipate my impending retirement from what has been a wonderfully fulfilling and rewarding job as World Mission Enabler in this diocese, we have been running a number of Zoom sessions with our global companions from S. Africa, S.E. Asia, Ireland, Canada and Northern Germany. We have celebrated our shared past, become informed about our present realities and committed ourselves to journeying together into God’s future.
A former General Secretary of the Church Mission Society, Max Warren, said ‘It takes the whole world to know the whole Christ’. In other words the insights we gain from new and different perspectives and from the experiences of others in following Christ across different cultures and contexts help shed light on God in human form – and so we are not just stuck with our particular and limited view of things. Let’s work with the biggest corporation in the world – it’s a win-win.
Revd Philip Swan
diocesan World Mission coordinator since 2010
The Lichfield Diocese website includes more about our links with the Church in other parts of the world – see www.lichfield.anglican.org/world-mission