How Did It Begin?

In February 1978 at Montreat, NC, a consultation “One Mission Under God” marked a major turning point in the life of the PCUSA. This consultation, made up of persons from all over PCUSA, our missionaries and ecumenical partners in countries where we have served, formed a report which was accepted by the 118th General Assembly. The report carved the direction of our overseas and domestic mission for the future. 

Essentially, we agreed to take our emerging sense of partnership and allow it to mature and flower under the concept of “Mutuality” in Mission. We agreed that we would learn to receive as well as give, which means identifying our needs and weaknesses. We agreed that “Mission” must be done on the agenda of the partner, so that we do not decide what we will do to, but will listen to our partner’s needs and hopes and respond accordingly.

In this report are six claim areas. They are Proclamation, Compassion, Justice, Reconciliation, Partnership and Education. In subsequent General Assemblies, Mission Directions have been adopted. These directions embody the philosophy and theology of the Mission of the Mission Consultation Report.

In the fall of 1978, the Suwannee Presbytery (now Presbytery of St. Augustine) Hunger Task Force began to explore and to become involved in an international mission project. The Mission Directions gave impetus to our plans. The possibility of a grant for experimental mission became known to us. The Caribbean Conference of Churches agreed to apply jointly with Suwannee for a grant from the Awareness Task Force to develop a Mutual Mission project.

The grant was approved and $10,000 was received. Two consultations were set up to do the planning. In November 1979, 24 persons from the Caribbean Conference of Churches in Jamaica came to Camp Montgomery to meet with 24 chosen delegates from Suwannee Presbytery and three observers from the Mission Board staff.

In February 1980, our 24 delegates and our three observers traveled to Jamaica. During both gatherings, we spent a total of seven days together getting acquainted, exploring and struggling to hammer out directions, discover needs and resources of one another.

The results are the proposals of the “Hearts and Hands Across the Sea in Mutual Mission” paper. These proposals were adopted for implementation at the May 1980 Presbytery meeting. In July 1980, the project was approved by the Mission Board. Since that time, this presbytery has put a great deal of its Hearts and Hands into Mutual Mission.

This year we are celebrating 35 years of partnership and look forward to seeing how God will move us into the future!