Mission - Resources - Guidelines

Guidelines for Partnership Visits in the Anglican Communion

From Towards Dynamic Mission: Renewing the Church for Mission

Mission Issues and Strategy Advisory Group II MISAG II) 1993

Introduction

'The responsibility for mission in any place belongs primarily to the Church in that place. However, the universality of the gospel and the oneness of god's mission mean also that this mission must be shared in each and every place with fellow-Christians from each and every part of the world with their distinctive insights and contributions'. (ACC-2 Dublin)

One of the ways of entering into `mutual responsibility and interdependence in the Body of Christ' is to visit another region of the world for the purpose of being exposed to the life, work, faith and witness of the Church and the people of the area. Such Partnership Visits are occurring with increasing frequency throughout the Anglican Communion and are known by different names in different parts of the Anglican Communion, eg Exposure Tours, Group Partnership Visits, Experience Programmes etc. These Guidelines are offered to assist dioceses, organizations and agencies around the world as they plan either to send a group to or receive a group from another part of the Communion. They may be equally as helpful to individuals planning such visits.

Principles of Group Exposure Visits

  1. Planning
    1. The overall purpose of Partnership Visits is to assist in the transformation of the participants, and through them, the transformation of the Christian communities to which they belong. Specific goals and objectives for each visit should be clearly stated and agreed upon by both the receiving and the sending communities.
    2. The visit should be in response to an invitation by the receiving Church, organization or agency. In cases where the sending group seeds out the invitation, this should be done with sensitivity so that the receiving organization is able without embarrassment to say `no', or to suggest a more convenient time. Every partner has the right to refuse a request without fear of loss of funding or severing of ties.
    3. The sending and receiving groups should have agreed upon the purposes, terms and duration of the visit, as well as on the size and composition of the visiting delegation. Changes should be made only at the agreement of both partners.
    4. The visiting group should have competent leaders who have demonstrated experience in the type of situations into which the group will be taken, as well as any necessary language skills.
    5. A detailed budget should be prepared in advance, outlining fully all expected costs as well as the sources of income needed for the trip. The funding should be secured before the trip is undertaken. Thought should be given as to how the experiences and reflections of the travellers might be truly heard by the sending community and integrated into its Christian life.
    6. The participants should have agreed to be available for educational/interpretive work after their return, and to submit a report to their local diocese, organization or agency, as well as to their host group.
    7. In most cases, the detailed itinerary should be planned by the host group, but this should be done in consultation with the leaders of the visiting group.

  2. Selection of Participants
    1. The sending diocese, organization or agency should develop a set of criteria for the selection of participants based on the following:
      1. experience related to the purpose of the visit;
      2. financial considerations - are participants required to raise money to cover their own expenses and have they demonstrated their ability to do so?
      3. considerations of age representation, gender representation, clergy/lay representation, geographical representation, other factors of representation relevant to the purposes of the visit.
      4. health and medical factors;
      5. the possible leadership potential which might be developed through such an exposure experience;
      6. the willingness of applicants to be available for educational work within their home area after their return.

    2. In most cases, an open invitation for applicants should be issued, to give a fair chance to all.
    3. The selection of participants should be made well ahead of the departure time, and a list of participants, with brief biographical data, should be sent to the host group.

  3. Orientation and Preparation
    1. The group should develop learning objectives related to the purposes of the visit. Individuals should develop additional personal learning goals.
    2. Participants should be given or directed to general reading on the geographical area, climate, terrain, diet to be encountered, as well as information on the culture and society to be visited.
    3. As much information as possible should be provided about the particular Church, diocese, organization or agency to be visited. The host group should be prepared to provide this. Particular attention should be given in preparing participants to be sensitive to the local culture.
    4. Participants should be advised concerning necessary inoculations, visas, passports and other travel requirements, as well as medical, travel and life insurance.
    5. There should be planning for the follow-up work so that participants can collect and note particular stories, photos, artifacts, etc. to help with the educational task at home.
    6. A full briefing session should be provided by the host group as soon as the participants arrive at their destination.

  4. The Visit
    1. The itinerary should reflect the agreed-upon purposes of the visit.
    2. Adequate rest time should be given immediately after arrival, and periodically throughout the visit.
    3. Time should be scheduled daily for individual and group reflection on the day's experiences, and a daily diary or report kept.
    4. Changes in the itinerary should be made only after consultation between the leaders of both the host and the visiting groups.

  5. Follow-up
    1. A debriefing session should occur before the group leaves the country or immediately upon return.
    2. Some follow-up educational events should be planned in advance of the trip.
    3. A follow-up meeting 4-6 months after the visit may be appropriate.

  6. The balance between short-term group visits and long-term exchanges of individuals
    'Attention to Group Partnership Visits which are very short-term, usually 10 to 30 days, should not direct energy and resources away from longer-term exchanges of volunteers, usually 12 to 24 months, or from the sending and receiving of longer term mission partners. Those who return to their own country after a long period with a partner church are a great asset. It is important that the Churches in the North increase their commitment to inviting such partners from the South.'