Sunday, July 22, 2012
‘Twinning today and winning tomorrow’
Church Twinning – A Unique Way for Congregations to Link with an Overseas Church
By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries
DECATUR, GA (ANS) -- When my wife Norma and I began ASSIST Ministries more than 24 years ago, one of our first projects was what we called a “Sister Church Program,” which was a way that a Western church could link-hands with an overseas church so they would learn from each other.
One of our first linkings was with Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, California, which we twinned with a church in Cuba and soon a team from the church traveled there, not only to bring moral and spiritual support, but also to be blessed by the wonderful Cuban believers.
Shortly afterwards, several other Calvary Chapels signed up and sent teams to Cuba and one of them even started Calvary Chapel of Havana. Soon, Cuban pastors were also visiting their sister churches in Southern California, and long-standing friendships were begun.
Our sister organization, ASSIST Canada, also joined in and they concentrated on Nicaragua and were regularly sending teams of Canadian Christians to that Central American country, and some of them helped build churches there as well as providing support for indigenous ministries.
Unfortunately, eventually the US side of the work began to peter out when, in some cases, pastors changed and the new leader decided to not continue with the linking.
He says, “The purpose of Church Twinning is to encourage congregations though separate by culture and distance, to 'assist' each other with the building of the church as a whole. He says he bases this on the commission by Jesus when he sent the disciples out two by two, according to Mark 6: 7 which says, ‘And he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits.’” (King James Bible.)
Some time ago, Billie Cheney Speed of the Atlanta Journal Constitution wrote an article about the program called: “‘Twin’ churches joining hands around world to share a faith.”
In it, Speed wrote, “The Rev. Sidney R. Holston of Decatur, Georgia, believes that the concept of ‘twinning’ in which an American church joins with a church of another country to exchange ideas and resources, could help solve some of the world's problems.”
“For example, if each church in the United States had acquired a twin church in Africa a decade ago, the crisis facing that part of the world might not exist today, Holston said.”
He was quoted as saying, “We would have been aware of the hunger and the political problems. And perhaps we could have done something to help the people before all this reached extreme proportions.”
The story continued, “Holston is president of Church Twinning International as of the early 1980’s.... If he had his way, he would twin every church in the United States with a church in the Third World.
“While he is convinced that twinning promotes a link between churches through confession of a common faith in Jesus Christ, he also sees it as an opportunity for two groups of people with entirely different cultural backgrounds to get to know each other better. ‘And one could even say that such unity could aid in fostering better international relations,’ he said.
“The church twinning concept was introduced to Holston by Andrew Crakye Denteh Ghana in September 1981 and then to Dr. G. Murray Branch, pastor of Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church of Montgomery, Alabama in October 1981.”
The story went on to say that Holston, and Branch “accepted the idea and decided to help the minister from Ghana, visiting the United States at the time, implement it.”
“While the focus now seems to be on Africa, Holston stressed that church twinning is needed in other parts of the world.”
“He noted that while the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Church is a twin to the Feden Church of Ghana, the Trinity Presbyterian Church in Decatur is in a twinning ministry with three churches in Jamaica.” In July 1988, Dexter Church Family twinned with Calvary Methodist Church family in Accra, Ghana West Africa.
“The Reverend John E. Talford, pastor of the Trinity Presbyterian Church for 17-20 years, said his congregations of 750 members are working with two churches in the Montego Bay area and another in the Sommerton community.
“Last summer, he and a team of his members went to their twin churches in Jamaica and conducted a week of evangelism services.
“‘During that time we had an opportunity to meet with the people, spend time in their homes and observe their needs’, he said.”
“‘It is a beautiful island but it is poverty-stricken,’ he said. ‘And we returned with a desire to do something to help the people there.”
“It was decided that members of the Presbyterian Trinity Church, along with others who might want to lend their skills, would return to Jamaica to participate in one to two week workshops.”
“Talford said cosmetologists, nurses, clerical workers, child care, storytellers; people who can conduct Bible schools and others who want to help may join the team.
“‘It is an exciting ministry because it gives us an opportunity to participate their culture, share their beliefs, look at their strengths and accept their participation,’ Talford said.”
Sadly, since the story was written, Dr. Branch and Rev. Talford are deceased.
Now Holston would like to introduce courses in American and Canadian seminaries so that students can learn about church twinning and the first course began at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, Georgia.
The summer of 2010 saw the Interdenominational Theological Center present this new study course titled “The Introduction and Principles of Church Twinning” by ITC Professor Dr. Marsha Snulligan Haney, Rev. Dr. Arthur Carson, Jr., pastor at Springfield Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia and a member of the ITC New Study Course Program and Committee, and Rev. Dr. Sidney Holston co-founder Church Twinning International, Inc.
This course was incorporated into the “Introduction to Missiology” which is a required course, and additionally the class was introduced to increase cultural awareness and spiritual growth.
“It combines economic interest and creates innovative programs and projects that further exchange cooperation and fellowship,” says Dr. Holston.
Holston says that his motto is: “Twin 2 Win 4 Ever God's People Around the World.” I couldn't say it better!
For more information on “Church Twinning”, you can contact the Rev. Dr. Sidney R. Holston at firstname.lastname@example.org
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