|dc.description.abstract||The focus of this study on partnership came out of experiences of living, working and growing up, in a missionary family, in and "between" South Africa and the United States. In the 1980sI was placeda s a pastor in the newly createdr esettlemenat reao f Onverwacht (Botshabelo),i n the then OrangeF ree StateP rovince.T here I encounteredth ousandso f people
who, though indigenous to the region, had been moved or removed through apartheid legislation and dumped onto the open veld with tents and sheets of corrugated iron for shelter. Into this fragile and painfully unequal situation Can1ea steady strean1o f visitors: fan1ily, tourists,
university researchersN, GO fieldworkers,f oreign televisionc rews,e cumenicalc hurchp artners from Germany and the USA, white South African Lutherans and Dutch Reformed groups, to name a few. 'residenta lien," (to usea term from Hauerwasa nd Willimon As an "insider" and "outsider" or a
1989:12),I was able to listen to and observem anyo f thesee xchangesw ithin and between local and visiting groups before, during and after the meetings. I experienced that I did not belong to either "side" and yet I was a part of both. The more I heard and saw the fewer photographs I took
and the more difficulty I had to describe what was happening and not happening in these myriad encounters day after day over ten eventful years. I had the disturbing sense that my "modem Western" education and vocabulary were not able to carry the freight of the deep paradoxes, let
alone solve them. Each year we were both closer and further apart.
At first I tried to ameliorate the situation by assisting the congregation, visitors and partners through providing more background infofll1ation and translations. Later I realized that no matter what information was provided it was always interpreted through each individual's "lenses" or perceptuagl rids. What began to intrigue and trouble me as much as what was happening was what was not being said and not being done by the various interlocutors. Gaps and spaces are very much part and
parcel of the encounter; something not even the newest camera can record. I became very frustrated and critical of the many "new
,utheran partnership programmes funneling into Southern Africa from Europe and the United States. Coming after more than 150 years of mission relationships the question arose, "Have we really met and will we ever meet as equal partners, as all the partnership contracts and agreements proposed?" Increasingly I have been looking for words, models and language to describe and understand what I feel to be extremely important experiences but which I struggle to describe without doing an injustice to the people or that experience. While studying at the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago in 1990 I wrote an essay entitled,
Partnership: Through the Eye of the Needle, in which I tried to express the impossibility of partnership between rich and poor. The moral of the parable (Mark 10: 25) is that the camel can only pass through the eye of the needle ifit is broken into minute particles. It is only through the
complete dismantling of the system of pride and domination (Jesus' death on the cross) and its reconstruction (Jesus' resurrection) that salvation (shalom) is made possible. (I am indebted to my late father-in-law Willie Cilliers (d.1993) for this interpretation). When I returned to South Africa in 1991 I was placed in an urban congregation in Port Elizabeth in a community which had also been displaced and which apartheid legislation had fonnally classified as "coloured." These are people who have been cut off from their European and African roots; who are literally "betwixt and between." I becamei ntrigued, through contactw ith colleaguesin heology,p hilosophy and sociology, in the "postmodem" writings of Levinas, Derrida, Lyotard, Kristeva, Moore, Appiah, Bauman and others who were writing about the spaces within and between \vords, people and worlds.
Derrida speaks of "differance" and Lyotard of the "differend." Bauman writes of the need to rediscover the "arcane art of mismeeting." These new words (neologisms) suggestedw ays of speaking about the paradoxes of partnership and the ambiguity of identity. The title of this study is "Partnership in Mission: Mismeeting in Jesus I Name? II In making use
of the term "mismeeting" (which I first encountered in Bauman 1993: 159) I will argue that all meetings are mismeetings. At first I spoke of "meeting" versus "mis-meeting" but now, in this study will argue that there are not "real encounters" as opposed to "inismeetings." The definition of mismeeting in this study does not mean the absence or failure of a meeting but stresses the asymmetry, open-endedness and complex nature of every meeting. Chapter One examines various missiological as well as historical materials which have taken up the question of partnership and the problematics of the encounter with the "other." This chapter
looks at some of the powerful perceptual "grids" or paradigms inherited from the past and specifically through what is called the "invention" or "covering" of America and Africa. Others have written about the development of the concept of partnership in the IMC and WCC over the
years but the All African Lutheran Conferences are not as well known. Unfortunately even "new" models of partnership stress connection and do not go far enough in acknowledging difference. ChapterT wo examineso r excavatesin anda round( to use Sponheim'st erm 1993:25),the conversation(s)in books,r eportsa nd minutesw hich record the long processo f negotiating and renegotiating relationships between Lutheran partners in the United States, Europe and South Africa. The main focus of this study is on the American Lutheran partners and the Evangelical
LutheranC hurch in SouthernA frica (ELCSA). Partnershipsa reg rowing in sucha way that no structure can really coordinate what is no longer a program but a movement! What kind of movement this is, whether it further entrenches old colonial patterns, re-colonizes or liberates,
bringing a paradigm shift in the way mission is perceived in and carried out by Lutherans in South Africa, is a central question in this chapter.
The first part of chapter two focuses on the period prior to 1975, (the year in which ELCSA was fonned), while the second part looks at relationships, policies and actions since that time. Chapter Three examines ecclesiological and theological models for partnership and includes a short biblical excursus exploring the concept ofmismeeting in the gospel of Mark. The concepts of communion and accompaniment are becoming central to partnership discourse in the Lutheran church around the world over-against the discourse of partnership. ( cf. Buthelezi, page
169 below. While communio/communion has much to commend it as a model for mutual partnership this study argues that lack of attention to difference weakens the concept. In reflecting on the first three chapters, the final chapter proposes that the ambiguity, asymmetry and en-endedness of Christian dialogue and communion with the other, can best be described as mismeeting in Jesus' name, which includes three perspectives: past, present and future. This study questions the frequently stated goal or purpose of partnership as that of overcoming differences.
In 1953 Hennan Schlyter wrote in the final chapter of his book, The History of the Co-operating Lutheran Missions in Natal 1912-1951," The future means that the difference will no longer exist between what has once been Swedish, Norwegian, Gennan and American missions. Thus
an African Lutheran Church of a universal character and solidity will be able to develop ..." (:88 -my emphasis) By contrast Paul Sponheim writes in his book Faith and the Other: A Relational Theology (1993), "... our very life is constituted by relationship: we live in, with, and before the other."
Sponheim speaks of "someone or something meeting us truly from outside -outside our skin, our thinking, our believing, our world" (:v). As Sponheim puts it, "In relationship two come together, but they do not cease to be two (:97). ...We are beings in relationships ...we live on boundaries ...within these relationships connectedness and difference exist ...order and disorder ...in us and between us ...independence and interdependence ...(:97 -my emphasis), In addition to Sponheim's "Relational Theology," chapter four includes reflections on Theo Sundermeier's concept of "konvivenz," Miroslav Volfs concept of "embrace," and David
Lochhead's "theology of dialogue" as extremely useful tools in this excavation process in the field of relationships. In order to gather material for this study visits were made to archives, libraries and mission/church offices at Luther Seminary, St. Paul, the ELCA Churchwide offices and archives in Chicago, as well as Berlin, Heffi1annsburg, Wuppertal, Leiden, Johannesburg, Kimberley and Umpumulo (KwazululNatal). Interviews were conducted and correspondence entered into with a number of former and present mission executives, seminary professors, pastors and expatriate
missionaries. A major difficulty encountered and which shaped the final outcome of this study was that archival material was spread among so many centres and not always readily accessible or properly organized. While most of the material is written in English, a complete survey of
ELCSA's history would require fluency in Zulu, Norwegian, Swedish and Gennan at least. An in-depth survey of all the ELCSA partners and how they affected each other would have to be a matter for further study
Fr. Michael Lapsley has stated that "Every South African has three stories o tell: "What was done to me, what I did and what I didn't do." I believe the same is true for mission and partnership. There needs to be a multiple telling and a multiple listening; an ongoing conversation. We (I) did not personally start this long conversation but we meet and join in somewhere along the way. This study focuses on some of the conversations along the way. The Bockelmans began the introduction to their book An Exercise in Compassion: The Lutheran Church in South Africa (1972) with the following intriguing words, A word about this book: you may find the beginning in the middle. ...There's no law that every book must be read from front to back. The traditional way to tell a story is to begin at the beginning and then step by step go through the events in chronological order. But that's not the way you get acquainted with people. You don't first read about the history of someone you meet and then meet him (sic.). You meet him as he is, in the middle of life, and then through a series of encounters you learn about his background and interesting items about his life :7). Some people refuse to read a review of a book or movie before reading or seeing it for the first time. The same can be said about receiving "orientation" before going to visit or live in another country or culture. Orientation at best makes one aware of the existence of different "grids" or perspectives but should not give recipes and short cuts to know and understand others. There is no "easy" entry or exit point, no clear or clean beginning or ending to life or any relationship. There is no neutral,o bjective or universalv antagep oint which can guaranteea correcto runambiguousp erspectiveo f a relationship,h istory or people. But that doesn ot stopu s from telling and listening to each others' stories and attending to differences and connections. This studyp resentsv arious excavationsi n partnershipr elations which illustrate that Christian Mission can be better understood in part as the story of mismeeting in Jesus' Name. As we meet for the first time, in the present; it becomes evident that we have already met and,
yet still have to meet||en_US