An interview with David & Shelley Stokes
Our Mission links with the Church Mission Society in Argentia.
What called you to Argentina?
We served in this part of Argentina from 1993-1999, living in a Wichi speaking community called Misión Chaqueña. David was involved in leadership training among the 80 or so Anglican churches across the Diocese. Shelley sometimes travelled with David but mainly looked after our two young children and got involved in the local church and community.
After returning to England, David trained for ordination and served his curacy in Salisbury. At the end of that time the Lord opened up the way for us to return to serve in Argentina in 2010 (this time without our children), and we have been based since then in Juárez, which is a relatively central location for visiting the now more than 140 indigenous churches.
What can we be expecting in this season from your mission in Argentina?
We believe we should be preparing to return to England at the end of 2020. We would then spend the first six months of 2021 visiting supporters and link churches on behalf of CMS before retiring just before David’s 68th birthday. We wait to see what the Lord has in store for us beyond then with anticipation!
The Diocese is going through a big transition as national leadership comes to the forefront and the role of mission partners decreases. Several years back, indigenous assistant bishops were consecrated, and the present Diocesan bishop Nick Drayson expects to retire in several years’ time.
The main area David has been involved in has been the coordination of leadership training. So, the challenge for the next year is to see how to hand over this work in a way that is sustainable in the longer term.
A parallel challenge for the indigenous church leadership is to rethink its approach to new ordinations after a moratorium of several years, and see where the present training system needs resetting.
Shelley has been helping with the development of AMARE (Mothers’ Union in South America). Again, the challenge is to help the work of AMARE to be locally sustainable.
May the Lord be at the centre of all the conversations and steps taken in the next year here, and may our role help prepare for what comes next. May the Lord enable us to leave well!