Talking about Companionship

We set off early in the morning at 6am. We have breakfast a little later at a small rest area on the beach. We are on our way to the GPID synod meeting in Lalundu.

The synod takes place once a year, receives the reports of the various committees, approves the budget and, if necessary, elects new members to the church board. It is a tradition that a different congregation always hosts the synod. This year, the congregation in Lalundu hosted the event. It is a small town southwest of Palu and is located in the middle of huge palm oil plantations that stretch for miles inland. The majority of the population in the region are Muslims. Christians make up around 17 percent of the population, followed by Hindus with around 3 percent. As the delegates of the synod are accommodated privately during the three synod days, some are also hosted by Muslim families. Traditionally, there is a great deal of hospitality and interfaith dialog among the religious communities in this region. The journey to Lalundu takes around 4 hours and is partly on unpaved roads.

In my contribution to the synod, I talk about the changes in the understanding of our relationships as churches, the development of the ems after 50 years into an international community and the search for an adequate term for our inter-church partnerships. I share our vision in ems of a world without hunger or poverty, without war or violence, in which all people can live a self-determined and dignified life and that we encourage respectful conduct towards one another – regardless of culture and religion. Perhaps instead of „partnership“ we also need to look for a new term for our togetherness in an inclusive and equal relationship. I would like to speak of a „companionship“ (Weggemeinschaft) in which members bear each other’s burdens, learn together and journey together in joy and sorrow.

In the afternoon we drive on and try to reach a village community that has a loose connection to the GPID. In a project, the people are trained in sustainable land management as an alternative to palm oil plantations. Slow-growing tree species are planted and the harvest of mangoes, dorian fruit, cocoa and avocados is intended to secure the village community’s income. The project was developed together with the GPID and is financially supported by ems international solidarity. Unfortunately, we were unable to reach the village due to the onset of rain. We would have had to drive through a river that might have been impassable on the way back. But we got the chance to talk to some representatives and the pastor of the village nearby.

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