CMMW Team members at the Temple of Praise Church, Liverpool, from left to right, Dr Samuel Cueva, Usha Reifsnider, Israel Olofinjana and Dr Harvey Kwiyani)
(Usha Reifsnider at Global Diaspora Consultation)
The first global consultation of the Global Diaspora Network of the Lausanne Movement was held in Europe and was well attended by approximately 150 participants and expertly hosted by Liverpool Hope University.
The stated purpose for this event was to, ‘To gather leading scholars and practitioners of diaspora missions in Europe in order to explore the transformation of Christianity in Europe over the last century by the Global South.’
Doubtless the presence and participation of Professor Andrew Walls was a highlight for all who attended. Presentations by T.V. Thomas and Sam George refreshed the participants by sharing definitions of diaspora.
Evening visits to diaspora churches revealed more of what is going on ‘on the ground’. The South Indian church experience hosted at Liverpool Hope University was from the Mar Thoma church. The transportation of their tradition to Britain was evident that this was a church to serve the Mar Thoma community.
The Chinese church is located close to Liverpool Cathedral and Chinatown. As a returning missionary British senior lead pastor’s role to serve the Chinese diaspora was deeply significant. The Chinese have been present in England for over 180 years dealing with multiple generation diaspora from a wide variety of Chinese backgrounds is a challenge.
The African church was a multi ethnic multicultural church. Their style of worship was a mixture of British and African reflecting the strongest cultural influence in a church that has constant connection with the ever changing community where it is located.
The presentation of papers brought together a variety of expert voices from diaspora Christian ministry around Europe and beyond. There were thirteen papers in total covering the history of migration in Europe, Jewish diaspora, the idea of conversion among Guajarati South Asians, Ministry to international students, the Chinese diaspora, refugee ministries in Europe, South Korean diaspora, Iranian diaspora ministries in Europe, mission to Muslims in Europe, theological training for migrant pastors in Europe, African Christianity in Europe and Reciprocal theology for diaspora mission.
Discussion groups followed the presentations. The groups discussed what they considered notable points of the paper and where application might be possible. These notes were then reported back to Dr Sam George, Catalyst for Global Diaspora Network with the hope that they will help prepare the paper for a book publication.
Out of all the presenters, the Asian contingent was the strongest bringing a range of knowledge that addressed the broad spectrum of ministry.
The Latin Americans, Africans and Arab voices were present but could have been stronger. Notably there were only two women presenters. Nevertheless, Global Diaspora Network has managed to start an interesting conversation on Diaspora Missiology!