Accompaniment is Relationship
From mission to . . . to mission among
Stephen Nelson, Director for Global Service, visiting with Pastor E. Ngcobo and Mr E Makhoba at Untunjambili, South Africa
Accompaniment describes the way God walks with us, and the way our church therefore walks and works among Christian communities in other countries. Together
we participate in God’s reconciling mission.
The ELCA Global Mission unit defines accompaniment as walking together in solidarity that practices interdependence and mutuality. In this walk, gifts, resources and experiences are shared with mutual advice and admonition to deepen and expand our work within God’s mission.
Accompaniment is both a lens for seeing the world and a way to engage one another in global mission. Through the lens of accompaniment, we see that relationships are at the core of global mission. When a good relationship is nurtured first, companion church bodies can more freely discuss priorities and make decisions. “When we know one another, we can move forward together,” said an African woman pastor during a recent ELCA Global Mission Formation Event.
Relationships between companions aren’t always easy. Relationships take attention and time: time to listen and get to know one another, time to share meals ... time to affirm one another, time to forgive, and time to speak difficult truths in love.
And like committed relationships, they don’t go away. Because North American Lutherans have been active in global mission since 1842, many of the ELCA’s companion church relationships are over a century old! Through good times and bad — civil wars, natural disasters, changes in governments and church leadership, famine — the ELCA and its companions remain committed to one another.
Next: Accompaniment in Practice