It was humbling and also encouraging to watch over 450 people arrive at the South American Mission Societies (SAMS) annual gathering in Craigavon Civic Centre, especially as the snow and freezing temperatures added complications to driving conditions.
The SAMS Ireland ‘Friday Night Live’ event aspires to inform, encourage and challenge individuals and churches regarding mission within an overseas context and also here at home. Bishop Ken Good welcomed everyone and from the outset created a prayerful attitude which remained a central theme.
Prayer is not so much an act as it is an attitude – an attitude of dependency, dependency upon God.
Summer 2008 teams from Armagh, Down & Dromore, Connor and Clogher Dioceses updated people through interviews and multi-media presentations. Two girls from Barcelona sang and performed a traditional Catalonian dance. The Bishop elect of Paraguay and his wife were interviewed, sharing the opportunities, challenges and practical implications which they face as they take on their new roles in March 2009. The keynote speaker this year was Rev. Dr. Maurice Elliott, his stimulating address helped to put mission in the wider context of worship.
Various projects were highlighted during the evening and at one point the Red Box Project from Argentina was focussed upon. Images from a power point presentation fused as a pianist from Argentina played the haunting tune ‘Don’t Cry for me Argentina’. Everyone present had the opportunity to pray as three significant images appeared Naomi Francey (Down & Dromore), Megan Johnston (Connor) and Helen King (Down & Dromore) who are all on gap years with the Red Box Project. ‘Friday Night Live’ isn’t a performance; it’s an opportunity for people to meet together and wrestle with what God is doing and wants to do through an Anglican mission agency.
An update on the SAMS fusion programme was another significant part in the evening. The fusion initiative offers placements to people from overseas within a parish setting in Ireland. It also seeks to link local churches in Ireland with short, medium or long-term projects overseas. Participants from Argentina, Chile and Uruguay are presently working in Connor, Down & Dromore and Derry & Raphoe. It was encouraging listening to fusion volunteers how they have benefited from their time here in Ireland and also it was uplifting to hear from local Rectors how they have benefited from having young men and women from South American working within their parishes.
The evening ended with a multi-media animation of a modern day parable, and as parables do, they leave you slightly uncomfortable and with something to apply! To all who attended and to all who pray for the work of SAMS we deeply appreciate and value your partnership.