The Annual Federal Council is the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Church Missionary Society – Australia (CMS-A). The 2017 Annual Federal Council took place on 27–29 October. CMS-A’s International Director/CEO, Peter Rodgers, reports on some of the highlights and developments within CMS in the last year. Please give thanks with us and pray for the continued growth of God’s kingdom as together we seek A World That Knows Jesus.
We praise God for the 25 new missionaries we have deployed in the 2016–17 financial year. Of these workers, 13 were sent under Part 1 of the vision: to reach gospel-poor peoples for Christ. “Gospel-poor peoples” refers to people groups who have limited or no opportunity to hear the good news of Jesus Christ in their own language and cultural context without outside help.
The remaining 12 missionaries were sent under Part 2 of the vision: to equip Christian leaders for church and society. Extraordinary numerical church growth has created great needs in discipleship, Bible training and leadership development in some parts of the world, particularly where local resources are lacking.
Of the 25 missionaries, 7 were sent into our near neighbour regions of South East Asia and the South Pacific, where we have had a particular focus in recent years.
Praise God for these new workers for his harvest field and pray for them especially as they continue to settle into location and go through language and culture acquisition.
In the past year, our mission work with Indigenous peoples in North Australia has been revitalised with a steady increase in workers. We are keen to build on this in coming years. We currently have two missionary units deployed in remote locations with a third family preparing to arrive in another remote location in early 2018 to continue Steve and Narelle Etherington’s ministry of thirty years with the Aboriginal community at Oenpelli. Also in 2018, an experienced couple will be sent to Darwin to work in urban Indigenous ministry.
In addition to these workers and others, we now have an Indigenous teacher at Nungalinya College employed as a Co-Mission Partner with CMS. The training of other Indigenous teachers is being supported out of a specific bequest. Praise God for the work that is being done at Nungalinya and in remote Indigenous communities throughout North Australia. Pray for the continued growth of Indigenous church leadership.
Tanzanian Bishops Conference
In September 2017, CMS initiated a conference with all the bishops in Tanzania. The Anglican Church there now has 28 dioceses with CMS personnel in just 5 of these. We receive many invitations to place people throughout Tanzania to assist in training church leaders in regional Bible schools, as well as the various faculties of St John’s University. There are also many requests for teachers in primary and secondary schools. Many supporters will remember Bishop Mwita Akiri asking for more missionaries to be sent to Tanzania when he spoke at CMS Summer Conferences in January 2017.
It is now 90 years since CMS Australia accepted responsibility for the work in the (then) Diocese of Central Tanganyika. Therefore, it was fitting for us to invite all the bishops and their wives to a conference in Mwanza. The Sydney Anglican Diocese, Moore College and Crosslinks were also represented and it was a great opportunity to build relationships, especially with those bishops with whom CMS has not previously had a connection. We are grateful for the hard work of Peter Tasker in making this happen.
Praise God for the conference and the relationships established between CMS and the Tanzanian bishops. Pray that many more people would be called to go and support the Tanzanian Church through training and discipleship.
This year we approved Peru as a new location with a view to extending the reach of MOCLAM in Latin America. MOCLAM provides theological education through the use of Moore College certificate courses translated into Spanish. It has grown this year to four missionary units in Latin America with an intention of decentralising ministry across the regions.
MOCLAM Spain has also been established as part of CMS’s new vision for workers in Spain. Two of our current missionary units serving in Spain will be involved with MOCLAM and this will enable them to train and equip a new generation of leaders across different denominations and Christian organisations.
Thank God for the people who have grown in their knowledge and relationship with God through MOCLAM. Pray for the expansion of MOCLAM across Latin America and Spain.
Diaspora mission has now been incorporated into the CMS vision and strategy. This reflects the importance we see in growing this approach to our mission. We have seen significant growth in the last year in our workers ministering in diaspora contexts, including in Dubai and France via North Africa. Opportunities abound. Knowing that many people groups are more open and accessible to the gospel in their diaspora context than in their home country, we are committed to growing diaspora mission in the future.
Praise God for his faithfulness in opening up doors for his gospel to be proclaimed. Pray that many will hear the gospel proclaimed in their diaspora contexts and respond in faith.
At the end of 2017, we anticipate that there will be 211 missionaries serving in 43 countries. Praise God for his faithfulness and provision, for the willingness of his people to go, and for the wider CMS fellowship of supporters who pray, care and give for his kingdom.
We can look back over the past year and see clearly God’s hand in all that we do. Paul writes to the saints at Colossae: “All over the world, this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth” (Colossians 1:6). Today, we give thanks to God that the same gospel continues to grow and bear fruit in the many places where we send workers and that we are privileged to play a small part in that.