- Missioner Adrien Niyongabo
Attending the Missional Voices National Gathering 2018 (MVNG18) in Indianapolis in April has been an inspirational and learning experience on one hand, and a moment of deep sharing on the other.
It was inspirational to hear from Episcopalians nationwide, coming from different areas and backgrounds, talking how their missions and ministries are being carried out in working towards ‘Becoming Beloved Community’. The keynote speech delivered by our Presiding Bishop, the Most Rev. Michael Curry, recalled how vital the role of the church is in making “Becoming Beloved Community” a reality. Therefore, church’s efforts and initiatives aimed at providing a life of hope and dignity to every human should be reassessed and deployed. It was insightful to discover that our EDNIN community engagement mission, based on Asset based Community Development, is part of a bigger and dynamic movement nationwide that seeks to restore people’s life. Furthermore, it was so motivating to notice that EDNIN’s community engagement mission is one of the most inspiring initiatives that faith communities could learn from in understanding people’s lives and interrogating local realities for the sake of ‘Becoming Beloved Community’. We are thankful to the United Thank Offering for extending us this opportunity. Listening to other practitioners’ presentations, I was reminded that the spectrum of community engagement is wide. Therefore, community engagement initiatives and activities vary from place to place, depending on the understanding of residents in the context of their community or neighborhood. I was immensely enriched by the wisdom and creativity embedded in each of the presentations given during the gathering.
It was an honor and pleasure for me to present at the MVNG18, sharing with other participants, about our inspiring EDNIN community engagement endeavors. In my presentation to the audience, I stretched out the importance of revisiting one’s traditions and customs in building healthy relationships. By so doing, faith communities and their neighborhoods would then come to walk together the journey of hope and dignity; the journey of liberation. Besides the presentation, I also conducted a one hour ABCD community-healing organizing workshop. It was very experiential and engaging. One of the participants said: “I had never thought that I could be deeply touched and transformed in so short time. Thank you for providing us with such transformational skills.”
MVNG18 was an inspirational and transformative time for me as well. I went back home with a lot of insights, ideas and good memories. I have begun to unpack them by going through my notes. I will take more time to assess which ones I would refer to as I prepare my next steps in in our EDNIN mission work. My heartfelt thanks to MVNG18 organizers for the invitation they extended to me, and my deep gratitude to EDNIN diocesan leadership for supporting my participation at MVNG18.