Regional Centers to Get Boost at Interface Meeting
We know weve been delinquent in serving people out there, said Wes Tullis, chairman of the U.S. Centers Mobilization Division, so now were trying to consolidate our services and make them more directly accessible on a regional basis.
Tullis said the Center has wanted for some time to decentralize its activities so mission enthusiasts can get help locally and not always have to write to Pasadena.
Fran Patt, director of the Mid-Atlantic office of the U.S. Center for World Mission, said that the first major steps toward decentralization were taken at the Mobilizers Workshops held this past spring. At the end of the Workshops we did a survey and found that many people were interested in having (a USCWM) office in their area, he said.
But they didnt just register some warm, fuzzy support for the idea of regional offices. These were people who actually signed on the dotted line saying theyd be willing to help make such offices come into existence in their areas.
With that kind of response, said USCWM director, Dr. Ralph Winter, We realized we could in some cases see people do their own thing under whatever name they wish to use, but in other cases, people would prefer to work loosely in an affiliated relationship to the Center in Pasadena. It was this, he said, that led to the birth of the First Annual Regional Centers Interface Meeting.
Scheduled for November 1821 at the U.S. Center, Tullis said the meeting will focus on nuts-and-bolts decisions concerning the realities of establishing and maintaining an affiliated center for world mission.
Bruce Graham, associate director for Regional Centers at the USCWM, said the meeting is not so much for inspiration or persuasion as it is for coordinating and discerning problem areasbasically, how we can move forward.
He hopes it will help aspiring regional center coordinators find answers to the tough practical questions they will all face as they try to set up boards of directors, acquire resale numbers and tax-exempt status, and as they try to manage a mailing list, process orders, etc.
Were moving beyond vision to implementation, said Tullis.
In essence, Graham said, the meeting is where potential coordinators will acquire the information and materials they need to run mini-USCWMs. Were franchising our business out to those we feel are qualified.
Tullis said regional centers objectives are similar to those of the USCWM: to network with existing ministries; to research and recruit mission enthusiasts in each area (the labor force thats already there); to communicate through a regional newsletter, (and) to keep the information flowing among and between these people.
What Does a Center Look Like?
Among the centers around the U. S., the Rocky Mountain Center (RMCWM) in Denver, while young (it was just dedicated October 8) probably comes closest to fulfilling the model Graham has in mind.
Tom Craig, director there, said the RMCWM exists for grassroots cooperation and resource-gathering . . . in order to involve the entire Church in world mission.
Over 20 mission agencies have played a major role in laying the foundation for this effort, he said. Six of these agencies have moved into offices at the Center, and all of us meet at the Center as the monthly Front Range Missions Fellowship.
Besides agencies, An array of churches from the Denver area is actively involved with the Center. . . . We have contact with a couple hundred congregations in this area.
No regional center is typical when it comes to staff. While about ten people work there, Craig is the only USCWM staff person. But, he says, theres plenty of volunteer help. In fact, Ive never worked at anything where lay people have been so involved.
Craig said volunteer committees virtually run the Centers programs: they help with the prayer rallies, the womens meetings, the newsletters . . . , everything.
The committees were formed at the Regional Mobilizers Workshop, butand the awe is apparent in his voice as he says ittheyre still meeting on a monthly basis. They see the need, believe in meeting it, and so theyre still moving forward. . . .
Among the Centers goals for the next 12 months:
1. To help send 25 summer/short-term outreaches from the Denver area.
2. To involve 25 churches in the U.S. Centers Year of Vision program.
3. To multiply Perspectives courses in the Rocky Mountain area so that there are five courses being held each quarter by the fall of 1989.
4. To have at least 30 churches involved in the monthly Fellowship of Missions-Minded Women.
5. To involve five (5) churches in adopting unreached peoples in the coming year.
6. To sponsor quarterly Prayer Rallies.
Craig says that despite all thats happening at the Rocky Mountain Center, he still has plenty to learn. And so hes looking forward to the Regional Centers Interface meeting: not only to share what hes learned, but to learn from others.
Said Graham: I hope a lot of people come with that attitude. Thats why were holding this meeting.
If youd like to see a regional center in your area, write to Wes Tullis, Chairman, USCWM Mobilization Division, 1605 Elizabeth Street, Pasadena, CA 91104. Or call (818) 398-2200.