What happens in partnerships?
Partnership groups continually exchange on the situation in their home countries and churches, and make mutual visits. That way they learn about their differing culture and spirituality.
As partners they pray for each other and engage in mutual advocacy. That includes raising awareness of development policy, mounting solidarity actions and lobbying.
Groups with such links celebrate Partnership Sunday together, interpret the same Bible passages or organize events on a topic that appeals to them. They look beyond their own ‘horizon’ to Christians and people of other faiths worldwide. Their experience flows back into the congregations in Germany and the partner country. Groups also frequently carry out projects, e.g. building churches, supporting educational programmes for young people or plans to stabilise their partner’s income.
Why become active in partnerships?
People enter into partnerships because they enrich their own lives. For example, they find out about the everyday problems of people in Cameroon. How they can live in the countryside without electricity and running water, in an environment with a high unemployment rate, how extended families are organised, when and how they pray. From partners in Nigeria they hear how Christians live in a Muslim setting. Partners in India are models of how Christian communities get involved in a country with extreme social divisions between poor and rich. The participants from the international partner churches likewise appreciate the personal contact and exchange. For them, personal encounters are ways of expanding their awareness and getting to know another way of life. At the same time partners expect financial support or the implementation of projects.
EMS and BMDZ
Many partnerships develop from contacts arising from time spent abroad by mission society staff or from meetings between Christians in an international ecumenical context. Often there was already an institutional link in the local church context, mostly within a church district. With institutional support, partnership agreements are signed that place relations on a long-term basis.
Advice, accompaniment and networking
EMS and BMDZ support partnerships by accompanying their activities. Advice on individual questions and country-specific information enhance the competence of the group members. For networking, BMDZ and EMS offer partnership seminars and a forum for exchange among the groups. EMS and BMDZ understand partnerships as a basis for carrying the concern “Living as a worldwide church” into German public awareness.