(Published in Independent News on Monday July 20th, 2015)
Vanuatu Churches “Serving Together” a New Phenomenon through the VCPP.
|Student at Kayemback Village.
© ABM/Jessica Sexton 2015
For the first time since Vanuatu’s Independence in 1980, the churches in Vanuatu have come together through the VCPP to work together in serving their people in communities. The VCPP as a development program commenced its journey in late 2009-2010 with six (6) churches in Vanuatu and the umbrella church organisation the Vanuatu Christian Council (VCC) forming the partnership group. The 6 churches in the partnership group include the Anglican Church of Melanesia (ACOM), the Apostolic Church of Vanuatu (ACV), the Assemblies of God Vanuatu (AOGV), the Churches of Christ Conference in Vanuatu (CCCV), the Presbyterian Church of Vanuatu (PCV) and the Seventh - day Adventist (SDA) Church. The 6 partner churches and VCC work in partnership with ANGO (Australian Non-Governmental Organisation) partners – the Act for Peace (AFP), Adventist Development & Relief Agency (ADRA), Anglican Board of Mission (ABM), Baptist World Aid now Transformation Aid International (TAI) & Uniting World to implement the church partnership program.
Vanuatu Churches Learning Together in Development: The first 3-4 years of the church partnership program was very much a learning ‘on-the-job’ process for the churches in Vanuatu doing development together across denominational communities, building trust, strengthening relationships and maintaining church networks across the partnership group. Before VCPP this phenomena of learning and serving together in development work does not exist, as each denomination serves its individual church communities and mainly the focus is in spiritual strengthening, rather than development work. Hence the concept of ‘development’ work was also new to the churches prior to VCPP. The recent disaster experience caused by cyclone Pam has reinforced the importance of churches working together more, not only in times of national emergencies but also through other development work in general to reach the most ’needy’ people in Vanuatu. The Christian principles of showing compassion and inclusiveness are inherent to church work in providing services to the needy. Lessons learnt through the Cyclone Pam aftermath experiences is that churches must work together more now than ever before to reach the needy through the existing strong church networks.
VCPP funded by Australian AID: The main donor funding for the church partnership program is from the Australian Government. Through VCPP it was also the first time that the Australian Government has donated funds directly to the Churches in Vanuatu. The Vanuatu churches wholeheartedly and thankfully acknowledge the Australian Government for this most needed assistance given to the Vanuatu Churches through the VCPP. Also for providing an opportunity for the partner churches to not only “learn to do development” work together but also for the opportunity to demonstrate the positive alternative to channel development funds through faith-based or church organisations like the VCPP.
Vanuatu Church Partnership Program Current Projects Sept, 2014 – 30 June 2016.
The five (5) main project activities by VCPP are in the health and education sectors and disaster risk resilience (DRR) as follows: