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  • Voices

    from 25 years of United in Mission

What common challenges lie ahead? What is special about the UEM? What makes the UEM distinctive and characteristic? Answers, assessments, opinions, evaluations from 25 years of United in Mission. You can read voices from yesterday and today here.

UEM Region Africa

  • Dr. h.c. Zephania Kameeta, Namibia, former moderator of the UEM (2000-2008), former bishop of the ELCRN

    "...People in Germany sometimes think that they are the ones who can give something to Africa. But I would like to say that people in Germany can learn a lot from Africa. There is a lot of wisdom and spiritual depth in Africa that is needed in Germany and all over Europe. So: Instead of you focusing on helping the poor Africans and the poor Asians - why don't you focus on how you can learn something from the spiritual depth in Africa and Asia. …

    A second point concerns climate change. Climate change is a justice issue. Most CO2 is produced in this part of the world. But you can't reduce it to justice: It's also about our children and grandchildren. ... [I have] asked myself: What kind of world will these children live in later? In Africa, it has recently been raining in winter. The newborn sheep and goats die if you can't build a stable to protect them. The poorest of the poor are hit hardest by climate change. But in the end we live in the same house, it is a matter of life and death. The German churches should take the issue more seriously. ...« (2008)

     

    "...The UEM brings people closer together. The UEM is not a question of structures, of money, but of bringing believers together - a globalization with a human face. You can't hug computers, but you can hug people. …« (2005)

     

    "... Even if the structures in the UEM are not yet perfect, the right people are already there today, who have a faith and a vision of a better world without discrimination, where there is no more racism and we all go forward hand in hand. …« (2000)

  • Desiree Brown, South Africa (URCSA), General Secretary of the Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa - General Synod

    "What is special about the UEM is that it is based on the Holy Scriptures and that all parties are givers and takers, having both needs and gifts to share. United by the Holy Spirit, we, the members of the UEM, give a witness to the world." (2021)

  • Dr. Muteho Kasongo, Democratic Republic of the Congo (CBCA)

    "... We women must learn to see ourselves as human beings with full rights, otherwise we cannot work for justice.... Women are discriminated against many times, they are also raped or forced into prostitution - not only in war, but I believe in change and that is why we are working for it..." (2004)

  • Bishop Dr. Abednego Keshomshahara, Tanzania, Vice Moderator of the UEM (since 2016), former UEM scholarship holder

    "I think in terms of evangelism, advocacy, diakonia and development ... we have achieved a lot so far. But we need to go one step further, in the sense that we need to enable member churches to become even more self-sufficient. For example, by supporting income-generating projects so that they do not continue to depend on donations from the UEM family. ... The UEM is particularly committed to interreligious dialogue and should, in my opinion, promote interreligious dialogue even more intensively at various levels of life: in schools, universities, churches, congregations, various other communities. So that peaceful coexistence is possible. That is the most important thing. If we want to fight radicalism and extremism at all, then we also have to work for the economic development of people, because sometimes radicalism is accelerated by poverty. So if we fight poverty in our communities, we can at least minimize the extent and outbreaks of radicalism and extremism." (2021)

  • Rev. Dr. Marthe Maleke, Democratic Republic of Congo (CADELU), former scholarship holder

    "From my point of view, more women should be given positions at the leadership level of member churches and on the board of the UEM in the future. Gender sensitivity training for all staff* in church institutions and at all administrative levels of the churches should be conducted to avoid giving space to traditional views about the role of women in the church. Another challenge is Covid-19, which has affected women's participation due to lack of education and access to high technology. There is a need for more women to be educated.

    What is special about the UEM for me is the intercultural learning through exchange and cooperation. The UEM has broken down many barriers based on cultural beliefs, gender, race and class and created a space for dialogue within its member churches and other church organizations. With its pillars, it is a reflection of mission in all its fullness.

    Over the years, the UEM has worked for gender justice and equality. It has become a platform that brings men and women together, a space where men and women feel free to share and reflect on new ways of mission, on their situations, to find support and be empowered to affirm their full identity as human beings made in God's image. As we continue to advocate for the ordination of our sister, we long for a community (church) where women are empowered to serve and live non-violent lives unconstrained by traditional, often culturally imposed, expectations and assumptions about gender roles." (2021)

  • Dr. Joseph Mfochivé (died in 2006), UEM Council member (2000-2004), former president of the Evangelical Church in Cameroon

    "When I first attended a council meeting of the UEM, I thought: The UEM is a place where elephants and mice meet, who find it difficult to talk to each other on an equal footing and where some have to be careful of others. But then I heard and experienced that the UEM is a communion of sisters and brothers. The money means nothing. What matters most is the contact and the fellowship that strengthens us in our conviction that the church is one and universal..." (2005)

  • Dr. Kakule Molo, Democratic Republic of Congo, member of the United in Mission-Committee (1988-1996), first non-German executive secretary of the Francophone Africa region of the UEM (1993-2005), deputy secretary general of the UEM (2001-2005)

    "It is important that the UEM pays special attention to two aspects: solidarity among member churches in the midst of constant crisis situations and the exchange of experiences among young people. The goal must be to prepare them to be agents* of social transformation, that is, young people must work for a better future and to fight poverty, especially in countries where democratic structures are lacking." (2021)

  • Christine Musongya, Democratic Republic of Congo, director of the CBCA's Department of Diakonia and Development, graduate of the international diaconate master's program

    "What is particularly characteristic of the UEM is that it preserves its Christian identity, unites in diversity and is a family of different nations and cultures. The mission community is continually learning from one another and seeking excellence." (2021)

  • Rev. Dr. Jean-Gottfried Mutombo, Democratic Republic of Congo, ecumenical co-worker in the Ecumenical Workshop of the UEM in Bielefeld-Bethel (2002-2008), since 2011 co-worker in the Office for Mission, Ecumenism and Church World Responsibility (MÖWe)

    "... The UEM region in the country that was shaped by Martin Luther, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Friedrich von Bodelschwingh, among others, will always remain a region of spiritual reformation, political witness of faith and solidarity with people. With this triple heritage, the German region can be a sign of healing and hope for the world through the UEM." (2006)

  • Rev. Dr. Fidon R. Mwombeki, Tanzania, first non-German general secretary of the UEM (2006-2015), UEM executive secretary for evangelism (2005-2006)

    "People in the North associate mission with 'giving' and like to give very much. But it is difficult for them to take, because they associate taking with weakness. They go to great lengths to accept people like me as missionaries. Many think I have come to learn and then return home and teach others what I have learned. I then explain to them that it is not like that, but that I came as an expert to teach and serve in Europe. At the same time, people in the South associate mission with 'receiving' and like to receive. They need to learn how to give. ... In good ecumenical relationships there are no givers and no takers, but only sharing. As the social, economic and religious situation in the world changes, we better learn this fast!" (2012)

  • Marcel Sebahire, Rwanda (EAR), head of the Education and Youth Department of the Shyogwe Diocese of the Anglican Church in Rwanda and coordinator of the Africa Youth Network

    "Common challenges for the future, in my view, are overcoming the different church traditions and doctrinal understandings that sometimes make mutual understanding difficult, and the different cultural and behavioral aspects. The problems of young people, who often do not have access to adequate education, are another consideration.

    The UEM cares for vulnerable and marginalized people and advocates for human rights. It promotes youth and advocates for gender justice. Together we have achieved that people who are particularly in need are supported. Their lives have been sustainably changed as a result.

    To keep congregational work vibrant in all UEM member churches, people are trained at the leadership and lay levels. By sharing experiences, knowledge, resources, and ideas, member churches can grow and improve in all aspects of congregational life." (2021)

  • Dr. Jean-Samuel Hendje Toya, VEM Regional Coordinator Africa (Kigali)

    "At the German regional meeting in Essen at the beginning of June, the regional coordinator for Africa, Dr. Hendje Toya gave an impressive report... In this report it became clear to what extent our three regional coordinators have to look for new ways to connect the respective churches of their region, which until now have been oriented towards the mission headquarters in Wuppertal... For the office it is very helpful that ...Polisi Kivava has started the work as program coordinator. However, the work in the office is very difficult because of the problem of bilingualism - every paper and report has to be written twice. Communication in Africa is very difficult and very expensive. For example, I have to send all faxes through Wuppertal, just one flight from Kigali to Kinshasa and back costs 2,000 US dollars..." (1998)

  • Madeleine Tiki-Koum, Cameroon, UEM Delegate Assembly 1996

    "In the new house we have entered, there are still closed doors. God grant us wisdom in opening them." (1996)

UEM Region Asia

  • Rev. Rosmalia Barus, Indonesia, Vice Moderator of the UEM (since 2016)

    "The challenges we face as an international church community in the future are, in my opinion, as follows: The ever-growing technology industry means that global competition between individual countries has become fiercer and faster in many ways, with implications for business, education, the military, and the social sphere. People will become increasingly less engaged. This could also have an impact on the international church community. Therefore, on the one hand, it must adapt to global developments, but on the other hand, it must continue to adhere to the principles of its fellowship: mutual recognition, acceptance and support, and qualification. For the foundation of our international church fellowship is Jesus Christ.

    During the impact of the Sinabung volcano eruption, where thousands of people had to be evacuated, fed and housed, we particularly felt the presence of the UEM.

    The solidarity of all the members of the UEM in Germany, Africa and Asia with the people who fled after the eruption of the volcano was very significant. The UEM is not only an institution, but it has also become a family for all the victims who suffer with The UEM has given many people a perspective on life. I have been supporting the people in the refugee camps since 2010 and feel that we, the Karo-Batak Christian Protestant Church (GBKP), are not alone in this suffering thanks to the UEM. The UEM has become a 'living' ecumenical communion. « (2021)

  • Prof. Erme Camba, Philippines, VEM Council member 1996

    "... After more than a decade of walking towards each other, trust has grown between the churches and therefore I am optimistic about the future. We are moving on the right path, ...

    Through the UEM process, much has changed in all member churches ... without the impetus from the UEM process, some churches would not discuss issues of human rights and ecology in the way they do and now take the process for justice, peace and the integrity of creation for granted. Much has also changed through the exchange programs in the churches, for example, the exchange between the Philippines and Indonesia. We have accompanied women from Sri Lanka and the Philippines to learn about our women's programs. In this way, the UEM has made a lot possible. ... Our priority is to receive funds that will enable us to become more financially self-sufficient. That's why I welcome the fact that part of the UEM's program is to help churches become financially self-sufficient. When the churches have become more financially self-sufficient, they can also contribute more to the common UEM budget... When the churches in the Third World also contribute financially to the UEM, then we can truly become a United Mission. ... We have to get away from thinking only about money. I have said here in Bethel that we must ask what people can contribute without providing money..." (1996)

  • Rev. Oinike Natalia Harefa, Indonesia, former VEM scholarship holder

    "The common challenge for the UEM today is to build an inclusive and compassionate community in a world facing problems and disasters of all kinds: racism, terrorism, radicalism, violence, land division and wars, as well as pandemics such as Covid-19 and environmental disasters. The UEM must always keep in mind the five pillars of advocacy, diakonia, evangelism, development and partnership." (2021)

  • Dr. Soritua Nababan, Indonesia (died in 2021), Moderator of the UEM (1996-2000), former Bishop of the HKBP.

    "...It seems to me that at this point lies the strongest challenge for the sisters and brothers in the German churches: How can competence and responsibility be shared with those who up to now have only had to accept decisions? Here, however, also lie strong challenges for the sisters and brothers in the churches of Africa and Asia: How can competence and responsibility be shared with those who have so far decided alone? For example, some churches may be confronted with the question: How can the process of pampering that has become a matter of course be ended? In any case, we should know that only now will we begin to feel the process of growing together in its concrete effects. …« (1996)

    "The executive entrusted with the implementation of the decisions, however, continues to be composed of Germans except for two persons. Probably this composition will not change significantly in the near future, since the UEM office is located in the German region and since the German churches, whose economic situation is better than the economic situation in Africa and Asia, bear most of the financial burden for the work of the UEM. Nevertheless, a representative composition of the executive staff, in keeping with the spirit of UEM, remains a task for the future." (1996)

  • Rev. Brades Sijabat Pimpinan, Indonesia, Deputy Youth Delegate to the UEM Council and Member of the Youth Advisory Council of the Asia Region

    "The UEM has a heart for youth: one youth delegate is on the council and six are represented in the plenary assembly. This guarantees that their voice is heard directly.

    The youth can also participate in UEM events; there are even special events for the youth.

    Young people have a permanent place in the UEM. They can contribute their ideas and wishes for the further development of the UEM. The UEM knows that young people have long been a mainstay of the church. I hope that the UEM will continue to involve young people in many events." (2021)

  • Ruth Quiocho, Philippines, UEM Regional Coordinator (Manila 1996-2002)

    "... For us women, leadership roles involve a great deal of loneliness ... Women in leadership positions are still in a learning process, but we can rely on the friendship of Jesus. …« (2004)

    "The Asia Regional Assembly, within the international structure of the UEM, has the task of deciding working methods and priorities within the Asian region and deepening cooperation among member churches." (1998)

  • Selvayohini (Selvie) Selvaretnam, Sri Lanka, member of the UiM Committee (1988-1993), founding member of the Women's Working Group, later its leader (until 1996), former vice president of MC-SL.

    "So far, you women from Germany have represented our concerns and tasks. We thank you for that. But now the time has come when we women from Asia and Africa ourselves want to raise our voices and get involved." (2006)

    "A big fire can be lit by a small spark! The small flame that was lit at the first workshop on women's issues in Ramatea (Botswana) in 1993 is today a big, bright light. The third workshop in Windhoek was a hopeful sign, rooted in the love and justice of God. I pray that women and men in the UEM will continue to reach out to speechless, helpless and oppressed people around the world!" (2000)

  • Rev. Dr. h. c. Willem T. P. Simarmata, Indonesia, UEM Moderator since 2016, former Bishop of HKBP, former UEM scholarship holder

    "It is a great joy for me and I am grateful to God that we can celebrate 25 years of United in Mission as a fellowship of churches in three continents. I was an eyewitness back then in Bethel, from June 2 to 6, 1996, when the new structure of the UEM was adopted. Since then, we - the members of the UEM - have been equal and committed to fight against any form of colonialism, discrimination and racism. There were and are many programs and projects that show how strong the solidarity and relationships are among the members of the UEM.

    My deep appreciation goes to my brothers and sisters in the German region who continuously show their solidarity for the UEM as a fellowship of churches in three continents and the von Bodelschwinghschen Stiftungen Bethel. May God bless you, my beloved family in the German region! For me, the UEM is not only a fellowship, it is like a family whose international atmosphere I enjoy.

    I would like to express my sincere thanks to the UEM for the scholarship - a master's degree - in the Philippines. The scholarship was certainly a milestone in my life. The study has paved the way for me into the leadership level of the HKBP and also into the global ecumenical movement.

    We should use this anniversary as an opportunity to talk about the major challenges. For example, about the global economic inequality between developed and developing countries or about the structural and personnel challenges within the international missionary community of the UEM. Last but not least, we should talk about the digital transformation. And about how we can find a balanced mix of virtual and face-to-face encounters, because the face-to-face encounters were and still are very important and strengthen our community.

    I see at least three challenges for the UEM

    1) The problem of economic injustice that exists between developed and developing countries is still evident. This injustice of the global economic system has made the economic situation of church members so difficult that it is still difficult to hope for self-reliance and equality within the UEM member churches. However, I note that the churches in Asia and Africa have demonstrated their sense of co-responsibility for the UEM through their financial participation. In fact, I have observed that some churches in Asia and Africa contribute even more financially than churches in Germany. This is an interesting phenomenon of equity in the UEM. Economic injustice has also led to various global crimes such as terrorism, discrimination and racism, and climate degradation. Economic justice must also be realized in the UEM. That is, churches in wealthy countries should share their wealth to allow churches that are struggling financially to be self-reliant instead of dominating or exercising power as they have in the past. On the other hand, the smaller churches also need to make an effort and get rid of any beggar mentality. I am convinced that however small and poor we may be, there is always something we can bring to our community.

    2) It can still be observed that the UEM is still too much determined by German structures and actors. Nevertheless, the UEM has of course made great progress in the last 25 years. Therefore, I urge the UEM to continue to make every effort to find a format that better corresponds to the truly international presence of the UEM. Is the UEM still bound by the laws and regulations in Germany? Will the office of the General Secretary remain in Wuppertal? Can we expect that in the near future 50 percent of the staff of the UEM will not be from Germany? Are all decisions, programs and partnerships focused on the common needs of the three regions or are they still determined by the needs of the German member churches? These are just a few suggestions on how equality can be better realized in the international community.

    3) Many of us are still unsure about using digital technology. We should use digital technology more consciously to achieve financial savings and climate justice. Yet we need to find an appropriate balance of physical and digital encounters, because physical encounters play an important role: they strengthen our community. « (2021)

  • Rev. Sujithar Sivanayagam, Sri Lanka (MC-SL), graduate of the international diaconate master's program, doctoral candidate in theology.

    "I think the common challenges for the future are overcoming poverty, aging populations, politics and good governance. And what's special about the international mission community is that the UEM makes people smart!" (2021).

     

UEM Region Germany

  • Miriam Albrecht, UEM North-South volunteer (2019-2020)

    "You always see each other twice in life, or rather in the VEMily: in the international youth project, in volunteer service or in networking. The UEM connects and creates friendships that endure far from physical proximity." (2021)

  • Dr. Jörg Baumgarten, UEM Regional Coordinator Germany (1996-2005)

    "...Nine years as regional coordinator for Germany at the UEM: that's quite a privilege. Although at first I didn't find it all that attractive. ... I was not particularly attracted to a classic mission organization as a workplace. But when I heard about the planned internationalization, I suddenly felt like joining in. The staff was to be internationalized and, above all, power was to be transferred to the member churches in the South. That appealed to me tremendously." (2006)

  • Deaconess Regine Buschmann, Germany, UEM Moderator (2008-2016), v. Bodelschwinghsche Stiftungen Bethel, former participant in the UEM Volunteer Program

    "Digitalization is certainly one of the major challenges. It is important to find the right balance between virtual and analog meetings, because human encounters have always played a major role in the UEM family and must continue to do so.

    The UEM brings people together across continents. Different languages and cultures move into the background so that people can learn from and live with each other.

    The successful internationalization is certainly the greatest achievement of the VEM family in the past 25 years." (2021)

    "We are a wonderful, colorful family. …« (2016)

    "It was a long way that the women had to go before they found their place in the leadership of the UEM. ... Now we have to be careful that we don't take steps back again. …« (2016)

  • Volker Martin Dally, Germany, UEM General Secretary (since 2016)

    "... In the UEM, all member churches actually determine the thematic direction of the work on an equal footing, discuss and decide together where to go. This is how equality is implemented in the international communion... To the UEM communion I would like to say this: Have patience, as I have come to know patience in Indonesia. A patience that knows solutions will come. They do not have to be forced. If we talk to each other, describe to each other the problems we also have in dealing with each other, then we will find solutions together. …« (2016)

    "... We [are] walking together in the UEM as a learning communion. In an honest, caring dialogue oriented to the message of God's love, we will find the right pace." (2016)

  • Rev. Dr. h.c. Reiner Groth, Germany, General Secretary of the UEM (1996-2006), Director of the UEM (1991-1996)

    "... It is important that mission comes out of the corner of the old-fashioned and semi-colonial and is perceived as something exciting. ... Mission today is inspired by mutual exchange ... Especially the two areas JPIC (Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation) and Evangelism show quite strikingly our understanding of mission and its range ... In many respects our anti-Aids program is exemplary. In the meantime, others want to learn from it, because word has got around that it is good. ... An event like the tsunami shows that we are relatively flexible ... The amount of donations for the victims of the tsunami shows great trust. People trust us to be closer and better able to help. This shows that we are a flexible and adaptive organization ... I would like the UEM to look significantly different every ten years and to perceive new dimensions of its mission, that it does not do service by the book. The UEM must be ready to change, to learn and to grow with the challenges. ... I would like to ... invite the churches of the South in particular even more strongly to assume their responsibility for mission and to set their own impulses." (2006)

  • Milena Javersek, VEM-Nord-Süd-Freiwillige (2019-2020)

    »Das Besondere an dem Freiwilligenprogramm der VEM sind für mich die familiäre Atmosphäre, die kritische Auseinandersetzung mit der Rolle des Freiwilligen und das Verantwortungs- und Pflichtbewusstsein, das uns Freiwilligen vermittelt wurde. Außerdem ist für mich der internationale Austausch, den die VEM ermöglicht – sowohl zwischen dem Globalen Süden und dem Globalen Norden wie innerhalb des Globalen Südens  – einer der wichtigsten Bestandteile der VEM. Eine Herausforderung ist dabei meiner Meinung nach, gerade für Nord-Süd-Freiwillige, den Freiwilligendienst als Möglichkeit zu verstehen, die eigenen Vorurteile und die des sozialen Umfeldes zu hinterfragen und rassistische Denkmuster abzubauen. Die VEM sollte dabei weiterhin alles tun, um diese Prozesse zu begleiten und zu unterstützen.« (2021)

  • Julian Kerßenfischer, VEM-Nord-Süd-Freiwilliger (2018-2019)

    »Aus meiner Perspektive als Nord-Süd-Freiwilliger ist das Besondere an der VEM, der rassismuskritische Umgang mit sich und der Kommunikation auf Augenhöhe aller drei Regionen. Insbesondere aber auch das Süd-Nord-Freiwilligenprogramm, das dies widerspiegelt.

    Die Herausforderung, die ich in der Zukunft sehe, ist insbesondere die, die Weiterbildung auf allen Gebieten aufrechtzuerhalten und darauf zu achten, immer aktuell zu bleiben.«

  • Pfarrer Rainer Kiefer, Direktor Evangelische Mission Weltweit (EMW)

    »Es bleibt eine große Herausforderung zusammen mit unseren weltweiten Partnern im Sinne einer ganzheitlichen Mission Menschen zu erreichen und in Wort und Tat Botschafter und Botschafterinnen der Liebe Gottes zu sein.

    Die VEM ist eine internationale Gemeinschaft von Kirchen und hat damit ein neues Kapitel in der Geschichte der weltweiten Mission aufgeschlagen. Es ist für uns alle interessant zu sehen wie sich diese Gemeinschaft weiter entwickelt. Dazu wünsche ich Gottes Segen.

    Die VEM hat sich in den vergangenen Jahren stark in den Perspektivprozess der EMW eingebracht. Gemeinsam entwickeln wir die Evangelische Mission Weltweit zu einem gut funktionierenden Dach- und Fachverband, der für seine Mitglieder und Vereinbarungspartner da ist und das Thema der weltweiten Mission in Deutschland und weltweit stark macht.« (2021)

  • Präses Dr. h.c. Annette Kurschus, Deutschland, EKvW

    »Bis in unser gesellschaftliches und kirchliches Alltagsleben hinein sind heute das Globale und das Lokale dynamisch miteinander verwoben. Spätestens Klimawandel und Corona-Pandemie machen es ›offen-sichtlich‹: Nur gemeinsam können wir in der Einen Welt nachhaltig tragfähige Antworten finden auf Herausforderungen, die unser aller Leben in der Wurzel bestimmen und gefährden. Für uns Kirchen in Deutschland ist hierbei die Transformation der VEM zu einer internationalen Gemeinschaft von Kirchen von besonderer Bedeutung. Denn die Vielfalt der Einen Welt ist längst im Alltag unserer Gesellschaft angekommen. Unsere Geschwister in Afrika und Asien helfen unseren Kirchen in Deutschland, gewohnte Verengungen und Ausgrenzungen von ›wir‹ und ›die anderen‹, von ›so wie wir‹ und ›fremd‹ hinter sich zu lassen. In unseren Gemeinden begeben wir uns stattdessen auf neue Wege gemeinsamen Denkens und Handelns in kultureller Vielfalt und Solidarität. Dies ist wesentlich für unseren kirchlichen Auftrag. So wirken wir als Christ*innen in Deutschland mit an Gottes weltweiter Mission. Gott will, dass alle Menschen seine befreiende Liebe erfahren. Die internationale VEM-Gemeinschaft eröffnet unseren Kirchen und Gemeinden vor Ort besondere Chancen, dies in ökumenischer Partnerschaft zu lernen und einzuüben. Dafür bin ich zutiefst dankbar.« (2021)

  • Pfarrer Bernd Müller, Deutschland, Ratsmitglied der VEM (seit 2016), Internationale kirchliche Partnerschaften EKKW und EKHN

    »Im Blick auf die ungerechten Wirtschaftsverhältnisse, den Klimawandel, den weltweiten Rassismus, Diskriminierung von bestimmten gesellschaftlichen Gruppen oder Ethnien müssen wir als Christen zum Sprachrohr von Nächstenliebe und Solidarität werden und in unseren eigenen Handlungsbereichen nachhaltig zu Veränderungen beitragen. Die VEM versteht sich als weltweite Gemeinschaft von Kirchen und kann nach 25-jähriger Erfahrung internationalisierter Strukturen und Netzwerke lebendiges Beispiel sein für die Überwindung postkolonialer Denkmuster! Alle Tätigkeitsbereiche müssen sich immer nach einer Zustimmung und Realisierbarkeit in den Regionen Afrika, Asien und Deutschland ausstrecken und die Herausforderungen aller Mitgliedskirchen einbeziehen.

    Eine überzeugende Durchmischung des ›Staff‹ im Blick auf Gender-Balance und Internationalisierung in der Geschäftsstelle sowie eine engmaschige Vernetzung und Kooperation der drei Regionalbüros. Leitungsgremien, die international besetzt sind und multilateral agieren. Die VEM nimmt in ihren fünf  Schwerpunkten (Advocacy, Evangelisation, Entwicklung, Partnerschaften und internationale Diakonie) aktuelle Herausforderungen der theologischen Diskurse, der Praxis und der gesellschaftlichen Brennpunkte (Black Lives Matter; Fremdenhass und interreligiöse Friedensbemühungen u. a.) wahr und sucht aus dezidiert christlicher Verantwortung sprachfähige Antworten und Aktionen. Das Jugend-Netzwerk der internationalen VEM ist überzeugendes Beispiel für innovative Ansätze dafür, was es bedeutet, aktiv an der Mission Gottes in unserer Welt teilzunehmen.« (2021)

  • Dr. h.c. Peter Sandner (1927-2017), Direktor der VEM 1974-1990, Exekutiv-Sekretär im United in Mission-Komitee (1991-1996)

    »…Denn der treibende Gedanke hinter unserer Vision von United in Mission war ja nicht der Wunsch nach einer anderen Struktur, sondern nach einem anderen Geist der Beziehungen und der Zusammenarbeit in der gemeinsamen Mission, nämlich in gleichberechtigter Gemeinschaft, jeder mit seinen Gaben. Das alte paternalistische Verhältnis von älteren und jüngeren, von gebenden und empfangenden Kirchen hatte sich auf beiden Seiten tief im Unterbewusstsein eingenistet, passte aber nicht mehr in unser Verständnis von Mission und Ökumene. Wir mussten alle umdenken. Das war eine geistliche, keine organisatorische Frage. …

    Da auch das ganze Vermögen der VEM und die Finanzhoheit auf das neue, gemeinsame Werk übertragen werden sollte, bedeutete dies nun wirklich ein ›transfer of power‹, also eine Übertragung von Macht. Der Sitz sollte aber Wuppertal bleiben und auf dringenden Rat der Rechtsexperten auch der Rechtsmantel der königlichen Stiftung, dieses historische Kuriosum in unsere neue ökumenische Gemeinschaft zu übernehmen. Aber ohne sie wäre die Rechtsmachfolge verloren gegangen und wir hätten einen eingetragenen Verein gründen müssen, mit vielen Nachteilen gegenüber der ererbten Rechtsform. So blieb also ›die Kabinettsorder des Königs Friedrich Wilhelm III. vom 24. Juni 1829‹ Teil unserer Satzung und diese Worte wurde in viele Sprachen unserer Gemeinschaft übersetzt! …

    In der deutschen kirchlichen Öffentlichkeit gab es ein geteiltes Echo. Einige sprachen von einem ›Meilenstein in der Missionsgeschichte‹: eine alte deutsche Missionsgesellschaft sei ›konsequent den Weg von einem nationalen Werk zu einer gemeinsamen Einrichtung aller Partnerkirchen gegangen‹. ›Ohne Netz und doppelten Boden gaben die deutschen Kirchen ihre alleinigen Ansprüche am Eigentum und an der Entscheidungsgewalt der VEM auf…‹ Bei anderen gab es dagegen ungläubige Überraschung und viel Skepsis. Man fragte: Warum so plötzlich und so radikal? Wie kann das denn gut gehen? – Ja, es war ein Wagnis! Eine Garantie gibt es nicht – nur die Hoffnung und das Vertrauen auf den, der seine Jünger (gemeinsam) in die Welt gesandt hatte.« (2007)

  • Marion Unger, Deutschland, Ratsmitglied der VEM (seit 2016), nebenamtliches Mitglied der Leitung der EKiR (2005-2021)

    »Die VEM ist wie ein Netz aus vielen lebendigen und äußerst vielfältigen Maschen. Die Liebe zueinander hält es zusammen. Sie bewirkt, dass wir Schwestern und Brüder auf drei Erdteilen in der Verschiedenartigkeit ihrer Frömmigkeit wahrnehmen und anerkennen. Die VEM ist auch ein Netz zum Menschenfischen. Wer sich hineinbegibt, fühlt sich getragen und wenn nötig aufgefangen. In Afrika und Asien ist es aus feineren Maschen gewebt. Hier gehört die VEM selbstverständlich zum Leben der Gemeinden dazu. In Deutschland sind die Maschen weiter geworden. Viele evangelische Christen hier wissen nicht, welche Schätze sich mit diesem Netz einfangen lassen. Es wäre schön, wenn sich das Geflecht auf Europa ausbreiten würde und wir Geschwister aus europäischen Partnerkirchen und -institutionen ins Boot holen könnten.« (2021)

  • Schwester Ursula Wörmann, ehemalige Leiterin der Schwesterngemeinschaft und ehemalige Referentin für Frauen, Jugend und Kinder der VEM (1978-2002)

    »Das Besondere an der VEM ist die internationale, partizipatorische Gemeinschaft der Mitgliedskirchen in Afrika, Asien und Deutschland, getragen durch das Gebet und den Einsatz für Gerechtigkeit und Frieden sowie gemeinsame diakonische Aufgaben. Sie fördert junge Menschen u. a. durch das Freiwilligenprogramm und das Netzwerk Junge Erwachsene.

    Es war ein langer, gewachsener Prozess gegenseitigen Nehmens und Gebens, ein ökumenischer Lernprozess angesichts spiritueller, kultureller und konkreter Herausforderungen. In den letzten Jahren fand auch die Öffnung für den interreligiösen Dialog statt.

    Gemeinsame Herausforderungen für die Zukunft sind aus meiner Sicht die Intensivierung der Jugendprogramme wie des Freiwilligenprogramms und des Netzwerks Junge Erwachsene sowie des interreligiösen Dialogprogramms und die Stärkung der Solidarität der Mitgliedskirchen durch gemeinsame Projekte (United Action) und gemeinsame Programme im Bereich der Emanzipation von Frauen, Advocacy und Diakonie.« (2021)

    »Immer wieder haben wir Frauen der VEM dieses Thema [HIV/Aids] aufgegriffen. Bereits auf der ersten Frauenkonferenz der VEM in Ramatea 1993 hatten wir Empfehlungen formuliert. Aber für mich war es doch recht interessant, wie das Thema HIV/Aids immer wieder konsequent tabuisiert wurde.« (2005)

  • »Vision« der Women’s Working Group 2004:

    »… Die VEM-Kirchen sollten Vorbilder für Geschlechtergerechtigkeit in unseren nach wie vor patriarchalischen Gesellschaften sein, in denen die Beziehungen durch Über- und Unterordnung bestimmt sind, durch Dominanz und Kontrolle. …« (2004)

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