East Congo – Angela Overstreet, Director of Missional Engagement
9:00am Monday, June 13 – Annual Conference Presentation
Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
My name is Angela Overstreet. I serve as the Director of Missional Engagement for the Tennessee Conference.
I believe in a vibrant church. A church that believes that our neighbors are in neighborhoods around the globe.
If you will remember, at the 2013 Annual Conference, Bishop McAlilly challenged our annual conference and the Memphis Annual conference to raise $87,000 to build a bishop’s residence (1) and conference offices for Bishop Gabriel Unda in the East Congo Annual Conference. Now Bishop McAlilly, in partnership with Bishop Unda, is asking the Nashville Episcopal area to support the construction of a women’s center in the East Congo. The center will be not only for those women who have suffered physical and sexual violence in the war in the Congo, but for all women. In Bishop Unda’s words, “women are the most vulnerable and dependent in our communities. But at the same time the burden of families lies on their shoulders. Our intention”, says Bishop Unda, “is to have a center where women can receive some training on small trades to be self-supporting. The land will be next to the bishop’s residence and conference office. We will have a large piece of land where women can do other activities.”
Two summers ago in August of 2014, a team travelled to the East Congo Annual Conference, at the invitation of Bishop Unda. In Randy Cooper’s words (pastor at First UMC in Martin) “I haven’t missed a single day of praying for the people I met on that pilgrimage. I now look at the world differently.”
Bishop McAlilly believes the time has come to make another journey to the land where Bishop Unda lives and serves. In support of Bishop McAlilly’s East Congo Initiative, and with the encouragement of John Collett and Joe Geary, Randy Cooper will lead a Nashville Area mission team to the East Congo Annual Conference in July of 2017.
As many as twenty persons from across the Nashville Episcopal Area will travel to East Congo. We will meet United Methodist Christians and talk with them. For a few days, we will work alongside women, men and young people to help construct the women’s center. We will travel to a few communities blessed by a United Methodist presence. When our travels are over, we will return to our churches and districts to spread the good news of all that God is doing there.
Since 2013, Martin First in the Memphis Conference has been the leader in the Nashville Episcopal Area for the East Congo Annual Conference. Martin First, has raised much needed funding, build three churches and provided scholarships for education. If we increase the number of churches who commit to this work, we will be able to multiply our support of our brothers and sisters in that land of beauty and poverty, a land of both suffering and hope.
The mission is open to clergy and laity. Our prayer is that some young adults will be a part of the team. Scholarships will be available for young adults who are eighteen or older. Please speak with John Collett, Joe Geary, Randy Cooper or myself if you wish to know more.
And before I leave you today, I want to most importantly share the “WHY” we go. We do not go to bring God there, we go where God is already so that we may join Him in His work there.