The Story of Covenant Transformation


Carol Kreamer

6/21/2010

With a new Bishop and with the changing times in Mozambique, we share a new and exciting vision for the church in Mozambique and how we are transforming the Mozambique Initiative church covenant partnership program to be in support of the new vision. This was not done as a one-sided decision. This at the request of the church in Mozambique and done in close collaboration between Missouri and Mozambique and is the biggest transformation of church-to-church partnerships since their inception in 1998. Read more to learn the new vision and the transformation…

Here is that new vision, in Bishop Nhanala’s words…

  • A Church equipped with a holistic ministry to communities
  • A spiritually renewed Church for the edification of the Kingdom of God
  • A Church with competent leadership for Christ
  • A Church which is transparent and responsible at all levels
  • A Church which is self-sustainable

But concerning love of the brethren you have no need to have any one write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another; and indeed you do love all the brethren throughout Macedonia.
1 Thessalonians 4:9 RSV

In 1998 church covenant partnerships began in all love and compassion. Even with very little ability to correspond, the partnerships endured. But with a new vision in Mozambique, we have undergone a transformation.

At the 2010 Missouri Annual Conference session the Mozambique Initiative announced new initiatives within the covenant program in two areas:

  • The goal of competent leadership
  • And the goal of self-sustainability for the Church

Bishop Nhanala says that currently the church relies 80 to 90% on outside aid to support itself - that has to change.

Missouri leadership teamIn our first meeting with Bishop Nhanala in March 2009, we heard her say – with every ministry we always need to have a vision of what the “end-game” will look like. We began pursuing the “end-game” for covenant partnership. We took a Missouri leadership team of 11 persons to Mozambique in August 2009 and began discussions.

As an outcome of joint committee meetings (over free SKYPE) including both Mozambique and Missouri since August 2009, the Mozambique Initiative strategy is to encourage self-sustainability, rather than to aid and abet dependency, and to encourage a vigorous program of leadership training, building capacities to grow strong, healthy churches - to do the work of the church well, and to manage projects.

There are two new options for the use of church covenant funds in Mozambique.

The basic financial strategy is to redirect efforts and funds in ways that encourage the church’s strength and discourage dependency. And that is extending the possible uses of the funds in two ways.

Strategy number one is this: Encourage self-sustainability. The transformation of the Covenants opens new possibilities for using covenant funds. Congregations in Mozambique work together in community. So, the church there has a goal of profit-generating projects at the congregational level. The Covenant funds may be used to finance these Profit-generating projects.

Zavala chicken houseAn example is seen at Zavala UMC. Zavala UMC has begun a Poultry Project. Structures were built to raise chicks, 300 baby chicks were purchased, vaccine for their health and feed supplies were purchased, and the grown chickens will be sold for meat. The process will be repeated, using profits to support the church.

Chongoene Source of life is a project that provides for orphans in the area near Bunguane, Mozambique. After constructing a hen house, they raised 100 hens for sale and mortality rate was quite low. They report on the project regularly. With the profit, the plan is to purchase 300 baby chicks, including layers, so that they can supply eggs to the orphans and the families who care for them, and also selling eggs to the community. The cycle will continue with the profits used to support the Chongoene Source of Life project.

Morrumbene Central DS Andre Arnaldo Vilanculos recently reported on the district pig project. Two sows recently delivered 10 piglets, increasing the herd to 37 pigs. They will be raised and sold with profit going to the district.

corn grinder projectMatingane UMC in Massinga has several projects going on. One is a corn-grinding project. They are also raising ducks to sell and benefit the church. And they have a tree project and a pig project that is not pictured here. They are bound and determined to be self-sufficient!

Even at Ricatla and Cambine seminary, the students are learning how to start self-sufficiency projects. One student at Ricatla Ecumenical seminary has a turkey project. 

GondolaNow to strategy two for extended use of covenant funds - capacity building leadership training. This is through a program of grants for intensive training of lay leadership. A congregation would apply for training for, say, a lay leader or lay evangelist and receive a grant for tuition to fund the training. Part of this effort is the development of the Gondola Training Center facility and program in the Sofala district. Gondola is now a priority project of the UMC in Mozambique. Two Missouri mission teams will work on the center this year, and others are expected to go in the future.

Previously, church covenants were only for pastoral support - that is, salary grants, and other pastoral support such as parsonages, furnishings and transportation.
Pastoral support remains part of the program and we cannot underestimate the impact it has had during the past 10 years.

Rev. DS Vasco Vasconcelos Zitha recently wrote in a letter, “I am particularly happy that the period of our covenant relationship has yielded fruitful results with the support of our pastors and DS’s, improvement of our living conditions, new chapel built, transportation, to name but a few. This is all possible because we agreed to live in unity as Good Samaritans.”

But at the request of the church in Mozambique, there is a change. Of those covenant funds available, the maximum salary grant will gradually reduce, year by year.
The church must therefore plan to make up for those reductions either through church growth or profits from projects. Gradually, as the program works out, the church will become able to pay its pastor.

Here is what you as a congregation, group or individual in a covenant relationship need to do about this.

  • First keep on going in your relationship
  • Communicate with your partner
  • Be in mutual prayer with them
  • Keep on contributing to the covenant
  • There is no change in dollar amount of support – keep sending it!

The new piece is this…
As your partner plans and engages in projects or training, be encouraging, keep up on how it’s going. And, by all means, the first step is to review the changes in the covenants. The second step is to let us know if any funds currently in the covenant accounts in Mozambique (originally solicited for pastor support) may be used for self-sufficiency projects and capacity-building if needed. Email Carol Kreamer to register your approval.

MI invites those congregations not in a covenant to also review this, and prayerfully consider a covenant. We have new purpose, new energy, new strategy and renewed unity with Mozambican partners.

If you are not currently a partner, you can join in this new effort toward self-sustainability! We are currently in need of about 14 church covenants and will accept contributions toward these sustainability projects.

To become a covenant partner you can complete the covenant commitment and send it to the Mozambique Initiative (P O Box 754, Eureka, MO 63025) or make an online commitment at www.moumethodist.org/mi/partnership. You will be assigned a partner and sent a package of information to get started.

You can help us to assist the church in Mozambique in moving from dependency to sustainability, enabling congregations to support their pastors as a first step through expanding the ways covenant funds may be used.

But concerning love of the brethren you have no need to have any one write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another; and indeed you do love all the brethren throughout Macedonia. But we exhort you, brethren, to do so more and more, to aspire to live quietly, to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we charged you; so that you may command the respect of outsiders, and be dependent on nobody.
1 Thessalonians 4:9-12 RSV

Please share your thoughts, especially if you are a current covenant partner. Has your congregation ever endured a transformation? What do you think about Bishop Nhanala’s vision and this transformation?