From the 10th to 14th September 2012 Micah Network gathered together in the town of Thun, Switzerland to learn and share around the overarching theme Integral Mission and the Community: local church, local change, global impact.
TearFund Schweiz (Switzerland) were our hosts and were present to meet us on arrival and guide us to our accommodation, overseeing the transfers, transports, meals and onsite services. We are especially grateful for all who gave their time, love and service to us, often working beyond their roles to cover the needs.
In the Community
The theme, Integral Mission and the Community was an important one for us to live out in the way we organised this event. From the start of the planning process we engaged with the community of Thun, the local authorities and even the national authorities. Marc Jost from Interaction and the Swiss Evangelical Alliance worked with us to set up meetings with local churches, MPs and other Swiss events, so as to create platforms for us to share our vision and passion for integral mission within the Swiss context. We invited our speakers to arrive early to take part in these meetings and a number of us stayed on to speak in churches within the country on the following weekend. Of particular note, we wanted to involve the community and were thrilled to see many homes opened to host participants throughout the week (just over 90 homes). This had a significant impact giving participants opportunities to learn more about the Swiss culture and the Swiss hosts the opportunity to learn about other cultures and share in mission objectives. It also helped greatly reduce accommodations costs for all. A special note of thanks to hosts and to the Hans Jutzi, who was the mobiliser and supporter of this initiative.
Local organisations, such as the organisation for people with hearing difficulties got involved in hand-making flags from all the countries were we have members (85) and decorating the hall we ate in. They then further served us by assisting with the meals, washing up and keeping us all well cared for – wow, what a special blessing this was. Throughout the week we benefited from the gifts and ministries within the local community. Susanna Rychiger who runs the 24-7 House of Prayer for Switzerland, arranged a prayer space for us and covered the week with prayer. Andy and Jenny Flannagan shared an evening of music and helped lead our worship on Thursday. Volunteers helped guide us between locations.
We had interpretation of the sessions going on in 4 languages: English, French, Spanish and Russian. This is a really skilled and exhausting job and done by folk who truly expressed their commitment to mission in this service.
We were blessed with a diverse worship team from Uruguay, USA and Zambia (Luis Alfredo Díaz, Tracy Howe Wispelwey and Siseho Minyoi).
We facilitated a bookshop throughout the week and a special thanks to all who managed this. A number of books are still available for sale and this list will be made available for members to purchase from the Secretariat, along with the Micah Network devotional CD called Retreat (preview) – a series of 6 devotions developed to use with home groups, staff devotional or personally. The devotions are composed of dramas, music by Andy Flannagan, and Biblical reflections and are highly recommended to all in our Network.
Staff and Board
The Micah Network regional coordinators, Sundar Daniel and Ruth Alvarado (Ben Akpera could not make it as his visa was denied), worked tirelessly throughout the week serving is various roles – a special thanks to their amazing effort.
The Micah Network Board and their spouses could also be found constantly serving and being present to assist as needed.
Rev Dino L Touthang, Chair of our Board, stepped down and handed over the Chair to Cannon Isaac Jaffer Anguyo (picture)
Sessions and Speakers
Our speakers and presenters coming from around the world shared challenging and inspiring perspectives. Their sessions and material will be available on our web site in the coming days – do draw on this and share with others.
A special thanks goes to Johannes Günthardt, the CEO of TearFund CH, who not only served as host, but could often be found doing the late night driving to ensure people got to their accommodation.
We had 412 people register to attend, acknowledging that many more would have loved to attend but could not for various reasons. Of the 412 who registered to attend 87 withdrew. The reasons for withdrawal are important to note:
• 67 withdrew because of visa denials or delays (note a number of people here also stated that finances were a struggle too)
• 9 people withdrew because of health issues or family related health issues.
• 7 people withdrew specifically because of financial difficulties to raise the airfare.
• A number of people (some included in the above) also stated that they had other commitments.
In total we had 325 people attending the Consultation, not including volunteers and hosts who managed to attend some of the sessions.
Conclusions and Outcomes
Our desire was to focus on ensuring grass root impact was at the heart of our discussions and commitments. The sessions were designed to address this. We also wanted to reflect back over the impact we had had to date on promoting and applying integral mission in our lives, through our organisations and our churches. Learn and affirm what we need to do and prioritise now. To guide our thoughts we drew from the four characteristics of an integral church, outlined in René Padilla’s chapter in the Local Church, Agent of Transformation, and captured in his opening address. Daily devotional reflections further evolved these characteristics.
A drafting team were put together to capture the daily learning from the sessions and to prayerfully draft a document that would help to guide us Beyond Thun. We did not want to write another Declaration or Statement, rather we wanted to create a reflective commitment which we could all together and individually read and affirm, embedding questions to challenge, inspire and promote us to continue to strive for all that God calls us to in applying an integral mission approach.
Interestingly Thun (or spelt Tun) in German means to do, to act or the way we conduct ourselves.
As you download and read and act on this affirmation we have developed together, our prayer and hope is that you and your church and your organisation will be inspired to act on the outcomes it solicits. Do let us know!
Thank you to all who came and shared in this week – we look forward to continuing the journey together.
We turn our attention to strengthening our Network and planning together with you all national and regional conversations and consultations to continue to promote and equip for integral mission.
The next Global Consultation will be in 2015. See you there!