Aside from coronavirus responses, there were some major landmarks that point to the fruit of the long haul in mission.
A 50-year land rights battle in Argentina came to a climax as an international court found in favour of indigenous people against the government, who were ordered to make reparations.
In May, Sudan passed a landmark law against FGM – a personal triumph for mission partner Ann-Marie Wilson just 10 years after founding her anti-FGM charity 28 Too Many, who were closely involved in the development of the new law. For Ann-Marie it closed a circle as it was in Sudan that she first became aware of the vast problem of FGM.
Another 10-year landmark was the birthday of the Pioneer course, which has trained over 500 people since September 2010.
The Pioneer team seamlessly moved the training online during lockdown and we saw increased participation in individual modules because of this. September 2020 saw the highest ever intake at our Oxford centre, as well as the launch of the Northern Centre for Mission in partnership with Carlisle Diocese . January 2021 will mark the start of training at the fifth regional hub delivering the CMS Certificate in pioneer mission – in St Albans diocese.
We also launched a season of thinking about mission as Imagination in Action, inspired by a book by two leaders of CMS’s pioneer training Cathy Ross and Jonny Baker – they had delved back into the writings – including CMS newsletters – of our former general secretary John V Taylor.
Imagining Mission has already fuelled the imaginations of many – and 2021 will begin for us with a webinar series with Jonny Baker and guests sharing their tips and practices for putting imagination into action in the cause of God’s mission.
It is safe to say hope has always been present in our year – we have always been able to see God at work, stirring hearts, reaching out. As we drew to the end we were able to introduce new mission partners and new local partners, reminding us that our God is always at work, always doing a new thing, no matter what the circumstances.
We hope many of you have been able to use our Advent resource Hope Up Close – and have really felt the reality of that title, however your year has been.
Like many of us, some of our people in mission have been frantically busy, caught up in front-line responses. Also like many of us, some of them have been caught in lockdowns, plans frustrated, with an enforced pause to stop and reflect.
In whatever place you find yourself, we hope you can pray with us the CMS community prayer, composed by Bishop Simon Barrington Ward, another former leader of CMS, who was among those we lost this year.
We are deeply grateful for your ongoing support as we move into 2021, more determined than ever to live out this prayer.
Lord, as you have entered into our life and death
and in all the world you call us into your death and risen life,
forgive us our sins;
and draw us we pray,
by the power and encouragement of your Spirit,
into an exchange of gifts and needs,
joys and sorrows,
strength and weakness
with your people everywhere;
that with them we may have grace to break through every barrier,
to make disciples of all peoples
and to share your love with everyone
for your glory’s sake.