Making Church Matter


July 11, 2010

This is an interesting time for our growing missions/service program.  

On Wednesday, Brain Crook (our new Mission Director) and I meet with the Director of Catholic Charities for the Archdiocese of Baltimore, Bill McCarthy. Bill is also a Nativity parishoner.  We shared with him the conviction we have formed about mission/service, namely that we should be following the injunction of the Lord:

You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
Acts 1.8

That’s a three fold commission: Jerusalem was the Apostles immediate environment, Judea and Samaria represent their region…but in the case of Samaria, not a place they ever would have gone to on their own.  The “ends of the earth” is a good deal further away.  Anyway, we have come to believe our mission-service outreach should likewise be three-fold: International and regional and well as local.  Of course, there is a lot of service and outreach that happens locally all the time: Servefest being a recent and successful example, our “Project Thanksgiving” being another. Small Groups, families and individuals go in many different directions with local service too. 

But what we wanted to talk to Bill about was forming what we are calling a “Strategic Partnership” with some program or project or setting of Catholic Charities.  In a Strategic Partnership we can direct our resources and focus our efforts for the greatest impact, we can build relationships with the people we are meeting through our service, and we can give more effective witness to our faith through sustained commitment and effort.  Hopefully, such a partnership will be taking shape in the months ahead. 

I have become convinced of the value of this model because of our experience in Nigeria.  On Saturday, I had lunch with some of our Nigeria Team, as they make final preparations for their mission in August.  They are well prepared and highly motivated and I know they will accomplish great things.  But it is the impact of a sustained, focused effort that can really motivate our congregation to do more.  Just take a look at the Nativity/Nigeria blog right here on our web site to see the amazing things that are unfolding and transforming the communities we are currently helping.

The third leg of this stool is also coming into focus this week:
we’re going to Haiti (more specifically Brian and I are going).  

We are flying to Port au Prince on Wednesday to be meet by Dr. Rod Mortel, a Haitian American who will serve as our guide.  Dr. Mortel has a very simple idea, he wants to partner local parish churches here in Maryland with local churches in Haiti, for whatever assistance and support they can provide, church to church.  But his hope is that local churches, like ours, could help establish schools where children of those parishes could receive education, medical care, daily nutrition and a way forward through their crushing poverty.  We are going to Haiti this week to see if we can identify a “strategic partner” for such a project. Dr. Mortel has already helped establish more than a dozen such partnerships, but we will be the first since the January earthquake.  

As the Wall Street Journal reports today: 
“Six months after January’s earthquake devastated Haiti, killing some 230,000 people and injuring 300,000, the process of reconstruction appears to have come to a halt.  Billions of dollars in pledged aid have yet to arrive.  Decisions on how the spend the money have not begun to be made.  An estimated one million Haitians remain displaced.  And everywhere there is rubble.”

Our project can, in a sense, circumvent these giant obstacles, and get assistance started at a local or parochial level.  Anyway, thats the working plan.  Pray for us on Wednesday.

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