This week in PCUSA Mission:
Zimbabwe and Denver Presbyteries
Build Each Other Up
Is mission a one-way street? Not to people in Denver Presbytery or the Presbytery of Zimbabwe of the Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa (UPCSA). These two presbyteries have been faithful witnesses to the unity of the body of Christ for more than a decade, despite the nearly 10,000 miles between them.
This partnership grew out of the commitment of a Denver couple’s desire to assist a school in Zimbabwe. Gradually, local churches began to support those efforts. Denver Presbytery helped to facilitate a discussion to determine how this relationship could honor the gifts of people in both places.
In 2005 the two presbyteries signed a memorandum of understanding, recognizing that “It was God, not us, who called us into partnership. It is a partnership that is grounded in love and respect for one another. We are able to extend God’s love to one another because God first loved us.”
The Rev. Lydia Neshangwe, clerk of the Presbytery of Zimbabwe and convener of its Ecumenical Relations Committee, said the presbyteries’ joint Partnership Committee finds particular value in relationships, diversity and equality. “The result is a relational mutuality that is manifested in our various engagements,” she said.
Over the years, the partnership has provided opportunities for Presbyterians in Zimbabwe and Denver to get to know one another. Delegates travel back and forth regularly, strengthening relationships by exploring what they have in common and how they can support each other through dialogue, prayer and programs. The relationship has enabled Denver clergy to spend a month in Zimbabwe to assist with congregational care, preaching, teaching and other projects, while Zimbabwe pastors have used their long sabbatical in Denver for rejuvenation, study and exchange of experiences and ideas. A mentor program pairs retired pastors
from Denver Presbytery with theology students and new pastors in the Presbytery of Zimbabwe, allowing them to pray for each other and share questions, ideas, concerns and goals.