of poverty into playgrounds for the privileged. Indeed, it is
not unusual for youth to make a strong push for systemic
change upon their return, committing to lifelong advocacy.
Indeed, participants in Emmanuel United’s trip raised
funds for a toilet and bath facility for its partner congregation
in Zambia, and Crescent United raised $US30,000 to help its
partners—landless “campesino” peasants—purchase land.
Despite their differences, all advocacy projects are marked
by a commitment to living in relationship. That means listening to the partner’s expressed needs and only acting with
Listening is integral to the principle of mutuality, which
again is at the heart of these initiatives. Increased mutuality was a key recommendation resulting in the People in
Partnership program. In part, it means preparing to receive
global partners here in Canada, as Emmanuel United did
with its “reverse pilgrimage” with Zambia that saw members
of the Chipembi congregation welcomed to Ottawa.
But mutuality can take many forms. The Rev. Keith
Reynolds of Southampton-Mount Hope Pastoral Charge,
Ontario, (whose church is twinned with a Methodist church
in Colombia), puts it this way: “Mutuality is about relationship, and how people give and receive in a relationship is different. Part of the beauty of discovery of a global partnership
in relationship is not only the cultural differences of how we
give and how we receive, but the many things we share in
common as a people of faith.”
Julie McGonegal is a writer and editor in Barrie, Ontario.
demise of those initiatives, we have lost engagement in work
that can’t be done at the congregational level.”
As an example, Hudson cites the behind-the-scenes peace
work that The United Church of Canada facilitated between
South Korea and North Korea. “That’s not the work that a con-
gregation could ever do; that’s work that a national denomi-
nation working in consultation with the World Council of
Churches and international partners can effect.”
As much as Hudson mourns bygone days, she also applauds
the People in Partnership program for satisfying a hunger to
The Rev. Maya Landell, Minister at Innerkip-Eastwood
Pastoral Charge in Ontario, knows the impact direct connections can have. Landell has taken several delegations of teens
on exposure trips to visit church partners in Cuba. The trips
have generated rich conversations about power, politics, and
“The teens engage in deep learning about our common
commitments to being a church in the world,” Landell
explains. “They gain a sense of world awareness; a sense of
what it means to be the other, the guest.”
Youth who are irrevocably changed upon return is some- thing church leaders witness time and again. Jeannie
Page, Chair of the Global Partners Committee at Emmanuel
United Church in Ottawa, saw this change in her own son.
When Ben realized that the local school at the mission station of the Chipembi United Church in Zambia had no books,
he returned to Canada to form the non-profit Literacy for
Africa, fundraising for books for schools.
Jean MacDonald, a member of Crescent United Church in
Surrey, British Columbia, recalls a young person who accompanied the church’s 2005 delegation to the Tierra Nueva community in El Salvador. The teen changed her original career
plan of becoming a fashion designer, opting instead to study
environmental studies and political science. After working
with a permaculture organization in Central America, she
returned to Canada and joined Right Play, a non-profit
that takes play programs to children living in poverty. Now
she has opened an office of Right to Play in Vancouver. “This
is a young woman whose life was completely turned around
as a result of her experience,” MacDonald says.
These stories debunk to the myth of “voluntourism”—the
idea that current overseas missions turn Third World pockets
The new program responds to the
finding that people today are less
able to participate in overseas
mission than in the past.
Bob McClure as a United Church medical missionary
in India. He later became Moderator.