Many thanks for your commitment to Mission 21

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Johannes Blum receives a farewell gift from Youth Ambassador Fighter Kembi Kabongo (center) and Youth Ambassador Abiud Kahungu Dikasa from the DR Congo. Blum has completed numerous assignments in the DR Congo and considers the country to be his second home.

The Mission 21 Synod was held online this year under the motto "Sharing Power in a Decolonized World". It was marked by farewells and change: Prof. Dr. med. Johannes Blum stepped down after eight years as President of the Board of Mission 21. Rita Famos, President of the Council of the Swiss Protestant Reformed Church, and Marcel Tanner, former Director of the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, also paid tribute to his work in words of farewell. The delegates elected six new board members - the election for the new presidency will take place by written ballot by the end of July 2024.

Johannes Blum has shaped the work of Mission 21 for 13 years. Elected in 2011, he was elected Vice President just one year later and President in 2015. Director Jochen Kirsch paid tribute to his work: "Johannes Blum cultivated a calm, prudent leadership style, mastered the art of empathetic listening and maintained a healthy modesty. Last but not least, it was his openness and deep appreciation for the concerns and contributions of our international partners that contributed to the good of Mission 21 as a whole."

Under the strategic leadership of Johannes Blum, Mission 21 has developed into a work based on Christian values that is active as an international learning community and in international development cooperation, with a focus on the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN Agenda 2030.

Appreciation by prominent guests

Board members Andrea Trümpy and Bärbel Schäfer also stepped down, and their work was also warmly thanked. Johannes Blum, the retiring President, was appointed Honorary President by the delegates in recognition of his loyal service and longstanding commitment to Mission 21.

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Rita Famos, President of the Swiss Protestant Reformed Church (EKS).

At a farewell ceremony on Sunday after the Synod's closing service in Basel Minster - led by Minster priest Lukas Kundert - high-profile guests also expressed their appreciation for the departing Board members, in particular the President, and also for the work of Mission 21: Rita Famos, President of the Council of the Swiss Protestant Reformed Church and Marcel Tanner, former Director of the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, as well as Jean-Luc Blondel, President of the French-speaking Swiss mission organization DM, Dieter Heidtmann, Secretary General of the Evangelical Mission in Solidarity (EMS, Stuttgart), and Karl F. Appl, President of the Basel Mission, the largest and oldest supporting organization of Mission 21.

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Marcel Tanner, Director Emeritus of the Swiss TPH Institute and President of the Swiss Academy of Sciences.

New Board members - new procedure for presidential election

The board was expanded and strengthened with the election of six new members: Barbara Becker, Evelyn Borer, Sandro Bugmann, Christoph Knoch, Anders Stokholm and Marianne Wagner are now involved in this body on a voluntary basis for Mission 21. The synod, which met online, also approved a revision of the statutes that will allow elections to be held electronically in future. This decision is a sign that Mission 21 is aiming for greater internationalization of its leadership.

However, the upcoming election to the Executive Committee will once again be conducted by written ballot. The candidates for the Executive Committee are the current Board members Claudia Hoffmann and Roland Plattner as co-presidents and Evelyn Borer, President of the Synodal Council of the Swiss Protestant Reformed Church, as a new member. The election results will be announced at the end of July. Until the handover of office, Gerhard Bütschi-Hassler will lead the Board as executive member.

Sharing Power in a Decolonized World

In terms of content, the Synod's motto was "Sharing Power in a Decolonized World". During the two days of the synod, Thursday, June 27 and Friday, June 28, around 40 delegates from four continents discussed and deliberated online. In addition to statutory business and strategic decisions, the specific situations and concerns of people in the partner countries were particularly important topics, especially peacebuilding and gender equality.

As part of the Synod, the joint Youth Summit and alumni reunion event also took place on Saturday, June 29. The international youth ambassadors, who are on an encounter trip in Switzerland from June 21 to July 7, exchanged ideas with former Mission 21 employees and provided first-hand information from their contexts.

Text and photos: Christoph Rácz

► Appreciation of Johannes Blum's presidency by Director Jochen Kirsch (PDF)

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Mission 21
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