Back in May, I wrote two posts about the razing of Itipini, the shantytown community in South Africa that I used to work in (and which I wrote a book about.)
I haven’t been good about keeping this blog updated with news from Itipini, in part because the destruction of Itipini filled me with such mixed emotion, I barely knew how to begin writing about it.
But some things have become clear in the intervening months. African Medical Mission, the NGO that ran the Itipini Community Project, has announced that it is ending its work there and beginning the process of winding down its work. Jenny McConnachie, the Episcopal missionary who worked in Itipini, is stepping away from the work.
I managed to get my thoughts in order to write about that for the Episcopal News Service:
There is a sense in the church, at times, that the era of long-term overseas mission is behind us; that people who devoted their lives to the church around the world belong only to the history books. We speak now primarily of short-term trips and companion diocese relationships. These are important elements of the church’s role in God’s mission.
At the same time, however, Jenny—and the other long-term missionaries like her around the world—embody our church’s commitment to taking our role in the global body of Christ. Their work with our sisters and brothers around the world is a concrete step towards realizing the unity for which Jesus prayed among his followers. People like Jenny—who shun the spotlight and never imagine their work has any significance beyond its local context—are some of the most important representatives of the Episcopal Church around the world. Their long-term commitments allow them to develop deep relationships and accomplish much.