Presbyterian Mission Agency Recognizes PZDP

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One body in Christ

Mission Around the World March 22, 2018

Zimbabwe and Denver Presbyteries build each other up through partnership

by Douglas Tilton | Mission Crossroads Magazine

The Rev. Tinashe Chemvumi, moderator of the Presbytery of Zimbabwe, and the Rev. Tom Sheffield, former pastor for Denver Presbytery, celebrated Communion together in Harare, in August 2017. (Photo by Janet Guyer)

ZIMBABWE — Is mission a one-way street? Not to people in Denver Presbytery or the Presbytery of Zimbabwe of the Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa (UPCSA). These two presbyteries have been faithful witnesses to the unity of the body of Christ for more than a decade, despite the nearly 10,000 miles between them.

 (Photo by Janet Guyer)

(Photo by Janet Guyer)

This partnership grew out of the commitment of a Denver couple’s desire to assist a school in Zimbabwe. Gradually, local churches began to support those efforts. Denver Presbytery helped to facilitate a discussion to determine how this relationship could honor the gifts of people in both places.

In 2005 the two presbyteries signed a memorandum of understanding, recognizing that “It was God, not us, who called us into partnership. It is a partnership that is grounded in love and respect for one another. We are able to extend God’s love to one another because God first loved us.”

The Rev. Lydia Neshangwe, clerk of the Presbytery of Zimbabwe and convener of its Ecumenical Relations Committee, said the presbyteries’ joint Partnership Committee finds particular value in relationships, diversity and equality. “The result is a relational mutuality that is manifested in our various engagements,” she said.

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Julia Henderson (center, with glasses), a member of 2017 Denver delegation, meets with members of a UPCSA congregation in Zimbabwe. (Photo by Rob Habiger)

Over the years the partnership has provided opportunities for Presbyterians in Zimbabwe and Denver to get to know one another. Delegates travel back and forth regularly, strengthening relationships by exploring what they have in common and how they can support each other through dialogue, prayer and programs. The relationship has enabled Denver clergy to spend a month in Zimbabwe to assist with congregational care, preaching, teaching and other projects, while Zimbabwe pastors have used their long sabbatical in Denver for rejuvenation, study and exchange of experiences and ideas. A mentor program pairs retired pastors from Denver Presbytery with theology students and new pastors in the Presbytery of Zimbabwe, allowing them to pray for each other and share questions, ideas, concerns and goals.

“Serving as a short-term volunteer alongside a pastor in Zimbabwe has enriched my life beyond measure and allowed me to extend my ministry into retirement,” said the Rev. Parker Smith, coordinator of the mentor program for Denver.

Figuring out how to walk together has had its share of challenges. “It has meant some difficult conversations, setting aside assumptions and listening carefully, navigating through different cultural lenses, staying at the table and a commitment to genuine partnership,” wrote the Rev. Janet Schlenker, Denver Presbytery’s former stated clerk.

Yet their faithfulness has yielded remarkable dividends. “It’s fascinating to witness how deep and wide our partnership has taken root in the life of our presbytery,” said Ruth McCollum Huff, co-chair of the Partnership Committee. “The efforts between Denver and Zimbabwe Presbyteries to create a central fund of sustainable business initiatives for the benefit of the Presbytery of Zimbabwe’s pastors and congregations is making headway now, only after the decade-plus relationship and trust-building that we’ve been working on together.”

Rose Musonzah, the former Ecumenical Relations Committee convener, added, “We’ve learned that … there are people who have hidden talents that have been exposed by this partnership. Our partners have actually picked [up] some of the talents that are within us.”

“Like a typical family relationship, we have our challenges as well as successes,” Neshangwe said. “But because we are one family, we support each other through it all.”

Douglas Tilton is Presbyterian World Mission’s regional liaison for Southern Africa and Madagascar.


Support the work of regional liaison Douglas Tilton:

This article will be included in the Summer 2018 issue of Mission Crossroads magazine, which is printed and mailed free to subscribers’ homes three times a year by Presbyterian World Mission.

Click here for link to PMA article.

March for Our Lives and Resource to Address Gun Violence

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Sandy Hook. Orlando. Las Vegas. Sutherland Springs. And Now Parkland. Mass shootings are quickly becoming a deadly pattern in American life, a pattern which we as Presbyterians must faithfully interrupt.  In the midst of this movement moment, we also recognize that students in communities of color have been organizing to stop every day gun violence for decades but often receive little media acclaim. We offer prayers of comfort to grieving families of all of these massacres and acts of everyday violence, and accompany those prayers with a renewed commitment to action.

It is heartening to see the students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School share their broad platform to insist the movement to end gun violence must center Black and Brown students. “People of color in inner-cities and everywhere have been dealing with this for a despicably long time,” said Emma González, a survivor of the Parkland shooting. These young people are inviting the Church into the movement, and we have every reason to join them.

The 219th General Assembly (2010) adopted the resolution, “Gun Violence, Gospel Values: Mobilizing in Response to God’s Call.” That document “Encourage[s] the church at every level… to become informed and active in preventing gun violence, to provide pastoral care for victims of gun violence, and to seek a spiritual response of grief and repentance, grace and courage to resist that violence and celebrate the Lord and Giver of Life.” Learn more about Social Witness Policy and available resources through the PC(USA) here.  

Given this charge, The Office of Public Witness invites you to participate in the March For our Lives in Washington DC or in your own community.

1) Interfaith Prayer Vigil March 23rd at 7-9pm, Washington National Cathedral RSVPs requested on Eventbrite

Facebook event here

2) March 24th Join us as we gather at New York Avenue Presbyterian Church at 11 a.m., 1313 New York Ave NW, and then march together to the noon rally on Pennsylvania Avenue. For more information, contact Karen at Register at

There are a limited number of housing options available for people traveling to DC. Please contact Nora Leccese, to inquire

Harvest Time - Zimbabwe


The Central Fund project, supported through the Partnership of Zimbabwe and Denver Presbyteries, continues to develop sustainable business in support of their pastors and congregations.  They are well into the second season of their greenhouse project and anticipating harvesting cauliflower near the first of April.  Their cattle herd continues to expand, numbering 30 head. Please pray that God may continue to provide direction and energy to these projects.

Here is a photo of cauliflower that will be harvested soon.

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