As the new chairperson of the Home Missions Board, it’s an incredible privilege to have a front row seat at all that God is doing among EFC-MAYM’s home missionaries in our own home mission fields! The Home Missions Board has the great responsibility and privilege of overseeing, equipping, encouraging and supporting church planters and church planting projects across mid-America. Did you know that there are currently 9 church planting projects in development across Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and even St. Paul, MN?? Several of these projects are nearing full church status, a couple are very early in their development, and several others are mid-way through the development process. Each of these projects is reaching new people that were not being reached by an established Friends Church.
You probably know that missions, both at home and abroad, takes imagination and experimentation. It requires the missionary to listen and learn from those they are called to reach, and to package the gospel in ways (usually new and different) that can be understood by the host culture. This is in the DNA of the church. For the sake of the gospel, Paul was very keen to use “The Internet” of the day: the impressive new Roman road system which stretched from Scotland to Egypt, to plant churches in areas that had never been reached before. While some leaders and churches see new strategies and technologies as a threat, Paul saw opportunities. The missionaries among us see opportunities.
One of the reasons I took on the HMB Chair position is because I love supporting the forging of new paths for the gospel, unconventional methods and approaches, and innovation. Even though risk and failure are inherent when forging new paths, there is also excitement, an intense reliance on the Holy Spirit, and huge successes as new people come to the Lord and are discipled through these new projects.
Just think about it: just as each and every one of us was once a baby in our mother’s womb, so each and every one of our established churches in EFC-MAYM was once a mission point. God designed living organisms (including the church) to reproduce. Like people, some churches live a long life, some a shorter one, but God’s beautiful design to carry the gospel on to new generations and new contexts is reproduction. And just as adults help to care and nurture their young, so adult churches get to do the same with the young churches in our family of Friends. What a responsibility and a privilege!
In Acts 1:8, just before he ascended into heaven, Jesus says to his disciples, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” This is a call to reproduce! As the Holy Spirit comes, you WILL receive power and will witness in your own town, in the surrounding area, across cultural differences, and even to the end of the earth! Wow! That’s pretty exciting, but its also pretty overwhelming! Notice Jesus doesn’t say to choose one: either be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, or to the ends of the earth. NO! He says to engage in all of them!
In this time and in this region of Mid-America, we too must reproduce to carry on the gospel to new generations and new contexts, both individually and corporately, in our own towns and the surrounding areas, across cultural differences, AND to the end of the earth.
So as we move into our 150th anniversary year, your Home Missions Board has a challenge for you!
How can you engage in new ways with your Jerusalem? Judea? Samaria? AND to the end of the Earth?
As a Board, we are preparing to bring you opportunities for new mission engagement. We are building board teams to function in a variety of areas to provide robust support for those among us who are called to start new works in new home mission fields. And we are preparing videos, articles, and other media to raise awareness among our established churches about the baby churches on the ground in Mid-America.
Each month of the sesquicentennial, from July 2021 – July 2022, you will receive a short video highlighting one of our Home Missions projects, along with a variety of opportunities to engage. Our hope is that these videos will be shared with all of our congregations on a Sunday morning and that you will share them in your networks and on your social media channels. We will also be posting regularly on social media, and we will make it easy for you to share! Ultimately, we hope and pray that you will seek earnestly, both individually and corporately, how the Lord might lead you to engage in mission in new ways as we celebrate our rich 150-year history as a Yearly Meeting.
Are you in?
-Carrie Corliss, Home Missions Board Chair