A letter from Jo Ella Holman, regional liaison for the Caribbean region
Greetings in this Advent and Christmas season from the beautiful Caribbean!
Our Advent readings this year include passages from Philippians and I join the apostle Paul in saying that “I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you.”
In this holy season we remember the gift of the Christ Child, the Divine come down in human form to walk with us, beside us, among us. And Philippians also reminds us of how Jesus came: in humility, emptying himself, taking the form of an obedient servant.
It is in this attitude that the member churches of CANACOM, the Caribbean and North America Council for Mission, seek to walk together, to accompany each other as we seek to incarnate the love of God in our one region of the Caribbean and North America. I had the privilege of participating in the Council meeting in October in Grenada, which includes 13 churches of the Reformed tradition from Scotland/Trinidad, Trinidad & Tobago, Guyana, Dominica, Cuba, Canada, the U.S.A., Grenada, Curacao, Jamaica, Cayman Islands, and the Council for World Mission (formerly the London Missionary Society). From its beginnings 26 years ago, CANACOM has pioneered a different form of mission partnership, that of a roundtable where resources are pooled, according to means, from each of these churches, and each member church sends two delegates for an equal voice and vote toward common mission. It is an unusual but an inspiring model for mission in which we all join the table as equal partners, seeking to accompany one other in humility, mutuality, and reciprocity. It is not a perfect body, but it is one that seeks to be faithful to the biblical witness of sharing resources (human as well as financial) as members of Christ’s body, and acting in the unity of common witness.
This past summer CANACOM sponsored a Young Adult gathering, hosted in Trinidad. Each member church was invited to send two representatives to this multinational, multicultural event. For three weeks the young adults participated in mission activities with the churches in Trinidad, including prison ministry, planting a kitchen garden at a home for abused women, doing environmental cleanup along the coast, working at a home for orphaned and abandoned children, and a beautification project at a cemetery. While sharing of themselves and their cultures, they also explored a number of topics of interest to all. In good Caribbean English, the theme of the event was “Strike up di Riddim, Mission is wi Beat!” Finding one’s own “rhythm” for mission within the diversity of and vibrancy of the culture of Trinidad and Tobago was part of this exciting opportunity for our young people.
During our annual Council meeting, we identified three challenges that are common to all our member churches:
- Increasing violence in our societies, particularly against women and children, and trafficking of people
- A concern for church growth—in numbers, and a concern for renewal of our liturgies and music to respond to the younger generation
- A concern for increased attention to Christian vocation as seen in the lack of sufficient numbers of pastors and lay leadership for our congregations
We are working toward strategies and activities together on these three important priorities.
These are examples of the kinds of mission and ministry we can do together as one body that seeks to follow the example of Jesus in walking humbly with one another, each a servant to the other. Thank you for your companionship with me on this journey. I desire and welcome your continuing participation in this ministry through your prayers and your generous financial gifts.
In this season of Advent, as we again await the coming of the Christ Child, may your lives be open to walking alongside your brothers and sisters in your own place, in the Caribbean, and around the world. And may the Prince of Peace light your way!
In expectant hope,
The 2012 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 2
The 2013 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 12
Read more about Jo Ella Holman's ministry