Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

The Scripture of Their Lives: Stories of Mission Companions Today

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

The Scripture of Their Lives: Stories of Mission Companions Today

Article excerpt

The Scripture of Their Lives: Stories of Mission Companions Today. Edited by Jane Butterfield. Harrisburg, Pa.: Morehouse Publishing, 2006. xvii + 122 pp. $10.00 (paper).

Since the early 1970s the Episcopal Church USA has been more likely to send money to "far-away parts" than to send missionaries for extended periods. This has been changing in recent years as the Anglican and Global Relations unit of the national church offices supports 100 mission companions on renewable terms of service, with the numbers slated to grow further. These new missionaries work in varied fields of activity, with some serving in traditional religious roles while others serve as medical practitioners or in education. Still others serve in non-traditional mission roles in community building and resource development. In short, missionaries from the church today are a new transnational breed, meeting new global challenges.

The editor of this collection of mission stories, Jane Butterfield, was herself (with her husband Titus Presler) a missionary serving in Zimbabwe in the early 1980s. From 1999 to 2005, she was the Mission Personnel Officer for the Office of Anglican and Global Relations. She is well placed to edit this publication in light of several important missionary policy documents in the Episcopal Church that have sought to redefine the role of the missionary in the twenty-first century. She notes, for example, the various missiological principles that have emerged over the last twenty years in the Anglican Communion that have grown out of the "Partners in Mission" movement and "the idea of mutual responsibility and interdependence (M.R.I.) in the Body of Christ." These principles "have been formative in the companion diocese movement and in the numerous and energetic short-term mission trips through which thousands of Episcopalians have become active in crosscultural, global mission over the last twenty years" (p. xvi-xvii).

Today the principles of missionary sending and receiving have moved from the traditional paternalistic mission stance towards a partnership model based on equality and respect, as well as a "companionship" model based on mutual recognition of sender-receiver needs. These principles found extensive articulation in Titus Presler's contribution to the New Church's Teaching Series, Horizons in Mission (2001), and in the Vision Statement of the Standing Commission on World Mission prepared for the 2003 General Convention (Companions in Transformation: The Episcopal Church's World Mission in a New Century). …

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