Background information on the EMS
The Evangelical Mission in Solidarity (EMS) was established in 1972 as “Evangelical Mission in South-West Germany” with its seat in Stuttgart. This regional German mission organisation comprising the five Evangelical Regional Churches in the south-west of Germany – Baden, Hesse and Nassau, Kurhessen-Waldeck, the Palatinate and Wuerttemberg – joined forces with the European Continental Province of the Moravian Church and five mission societies: the Evangelical Mission Society in Basel, the Basel Mission – German Branch, the German East Asia Mission, the Evangelical Association for the Syrian Orphanage in Jerusalem and the Moravian Mission Society. The aim of the new society was to “…establish structures that will allow us to do better than before, on a global scale, what inextricably belongs to mission: to proclaim Christ and to share in living communion with him.” (Dr Jacques Rossel, President of the Basel Mission, in the devotion delivered at the founding meeting of the EMS). The founding synod of the EMS met on 16/9/1972 in the Hospitalhof in Stuttgart.
50 years later, the ” Evangelical Mission in South-West Germany” became the “Evangelical Mission in Solidarity”: an international association of 23 churches, two guest churches and five mission societies in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Europe. Together they connect about 25 million believers across three continents. There are also cooperation projects with other churches through associations with member churches and mission societies.
The special thing about today’s EMS is that all members work together as equals. They are equally represented in the decision-making bodies. No matter whether issues have to do with theology, organisation or finance, decisions within the EMS are made jointly and on an equal footing by all members. This is one of the unique features of the EMS.
Another characteristic of the EMS is the close association between witness and ministry. The EMS Constitution states: “EMS promotes attentive and respectful encounters over cultural and religious borders, works to enhance life and, in particular, advocates for the rights of vulnerable, poor and marginalised people. EMS brings partnership to life through mutual empowerment and solidarity, learning together, common planning, decisions and actions, and through the sharing of resources, gifts and abilities.” EMS implements this international cooperation through joint programmes that support its members in their witness at local level. The EMS promotes joint programmes and projects with funds and staff in the sectors of education, combating poverty, promoting peace and preserving the creation.
This fellowship proves its worth especially in times of crisis. Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic last year, the EMS has provided more than 500,000 Euro to protect people through its corona relief “Living.Solidarity.Worldwide – Together against Corona”. The donations came from all member churches. For example, the Presbyterian Church of Ghana was the first church to provide aid to support the coronavirus work of the churches in India.
EMS is explicitly “evangelical” in the sense that the biblical message plays a central role in all its activities. A paradigmatic example of this basic attitude is the project “The Bible through the eyes of another”, which plays a central role in cooperation between the churches and mission societies. Since 2003, international tandem groups have been formed through the EMS between congregations and groups of members who work together on agreed biblical texts. In essence, this is about mutual preparation for everyday life, about “empowerment” on the basis of joint Bible study.
In November 2020, the Mission Council and the General Meeting of the EMS adopted a new strategy for the coming 6 years. At the centre of this strategy is the further strengthening of internationalisation and cooperation within the EMS. The EMS churches declare their common aim: “Since its transformation into an international organisation, the EMS has taken significant steps to promote internationalisation and the active participation of its members. During this time, we have grown closer together and have found that an association where its members meet as equals opens up totally new possibilities. We are committed to continuing along this path. ’For Freedom Christ has set us free.’”