EMS Mission Council discusses sustainable future direction of the Fellowship
(Stuttgart, 19 June 2020) “Perhaps the most important thing we can learn from the coronavirus crisis is humility.” This thought-provoking statement was the conclusion made by Church Council member Klaus Rieth, Chair of the Presidium of the Evangelical Mission in Solidarity (EMS), during the Mission Council meeting. “The Covid-19 pandemic has clearly brought home to us at the EMS once again that we need one another, that we are always there for one another and we can support one another,” says the pastor from Wuerttemberg. “And it works. The EMS family is a real fellowship. It’s quite obvious to see from the many prayers with and for one another, our emergency aid funds as well as the many different bilateral aid projects.”
The Mission Council – the EMS international executive committee consisting of 17 members – convenes twice a year. However, for the first time in its history, the meeting this time was held in a video conference due to the coronavirus crisis. The EMS Mission Council also discussed the direction the EMS should take in the coronavirus- and post-coronavirus-times and deliberated on preparations for the 50th anniversary of the EMS in 2022.
One issue that took up a major part of the discussions was how the fellowship can work in the face of global challenges. The reports given by the 28 churches and mission societies from Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Germany that form the EMS all show how different the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic have been. Since church services were stopped, many churches have suffered a loss of church income, which mainly comes from collections from these services. Some countries, such as Lebanon and South Africa or the earthquake region in Sulawesi, Indonesia, were already in a difficult situation before the pandemic hit and the people there found themselves in a particularly vulnerable position.
Reverend Musa Salusu, President of the Toraja Church (GT) in Indonesia, reports: “Right at the start of the crisis, our church immediately reacted by distributing relief supplies – much faster than the government. At the moment, there is enormous demand for food since the markets are closed and it’s too soon to sell the harvest. So people have no money to buy food themselves. In this situation, the people place a high level of trust in the churches to distribute the food fairly.
In his sermon, Reverend Bernd Kappes of the Protestant Church in Kurhessen-Waldeck clarified the various challenges: “We are all battered by the same storm but we’re not in the same boat. Our boats are very different. Many have plenty of room, enough to eat and a good healthcare system. Others are fully exposed to the fury of the storm.”
The Evangelical Mission in Solidarity (EMS) is a fellowship of churches and mission societies on three continents. 23 Evangelical churches and five mission societies in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East together form an international network of long-term partnerships. Members of the EMS in Germany include the Protestant Churches in Baden, Hesse-Nassau, Kurhessen-Waldeck, the Palatinate and Wuerttemberg as well as the Moravian Church, the German East Asia Mission (DOAM), the Basel Mission German Branch (BMDZ) and the Evangelical Association for the Schneller Schools (EVS).
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