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'Glocal' gatherings give new twist to mission

Accompaniment theme prevails

Last May, St. Luke Lutheran Church, Park Ridge, Ill., hosted a Glocal Mission Gathering. That's not a typo. "Glocal" is what author Lewis Carroll called a "portmanteau word" — two words smashed together to give both a new twist. As in: "Mission is both global and local; therefore, mission is glocal."

The event's theme was accompaniment — the idea of mission as an Emmaus journey of partners and a conversation among equals.

Keynoter Rafael Malpica Padilla, executive director of ELCA Global Mission, offered his take on the story of Jonah and the theological implications of the animated movie Happy Feet. The question before us, he said, is "how do we engage the other?" Too often, he said, we draw lines between ourselves and people who are different, but "mission happens when we can see God's face in the face of the other. God's mission is to restore community. The mission of the congregation is to restore community among ourselves."

Dick Spreitzer chose to attend the
Dick Spreitzer chose to attend the Glocal Mission Gathering in Park Ridge, Ill., to help his congregation change the way it does things.

Another keynoter, Sunitha Mortha, ELCA director for global formation, warned against underestimating the cultural context of mission, globally and locally. In other words, allow for the culture — beliefs and assumptions — of all parties in a conversation. If culture is an iceberg, "belief is part of what is under water," she said. According to Wikipedia, that's roughly 90 percent of an iceberg.


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