Matthew and Marsena Cunningham find themselves at the center of a strategic opportunity to serve the Lord for the completion of the Great Commission in our generation.
The world’s population is moving to cities. Today, 54% of the world lives in cities which cover only one percent of the world’s geographic area. It is estimated that 60% of people will live in cities by the year 2030 and 70% by the year 2050. Almost three million people move to cities every week.
Cities are at the heart of the world’s economies – 50% of the world’s wealth is based in cities. Cities are the birthplace of culture, ideas, and influence. As such, cities must be an integral part of our strategy to fulfill the Great Commission.
Global Connections, a growing network of over 300 UK churches and agencies with a passion for mission, agrees. In its article The Importance of Urban Mission, the challenge and importance of reaching cities is outlined: “To change a city takes a self-sustaining, naturally growing movement of ministries and networks around a core of new church multiplication, so that the number of gospel-shaped Christians in a city becomes so large that Christian influence on the civic and social life of the city — and on the very culture — is recognisable and acknowledged.”1
Recognizing the importance of cities in the fulfillment of the Great Commission, Church of God World Missions is pursuing a strategy to reach 13 strategic cities around the world. In many ways, their strategy echoes the pattern outlined in the Global Connections article.
The Church of God World Missions strategy for cities, called Send The Light To The Cities, includes establishing a ministry training center in each city. Each training center will include a collegiate study abroad program which will provide an ongoing influx of Christian workers to be involved in planting a “birthing church” in its city. As this birthing church grows into maturity, it will in turn plant additional churches in the city and its surroundings, and eventually throughout its country and even beyond through immigration and tourism.
One of these 13 strategic cities is the capital of Scotland, the city of Edinburgh.
The Church of Scotland is in decline. The tradition of non-church-attendance is three generations old now (the average Scottish citizen’s grandparents didn’t attend church). And yet, Edinburgh is home to 4 major universities and 30,000 college students. These young people in their twenties are ripe for revival!
Matthew and Marsena have been lead pastors for 22 years, spending the last 10 years as lead pastors of West Monroe Church of God in West Monroe, Louisiana. Why would they give up a successful, long-term ministry to move to a city on the other side of the world?
It began when their middle daughter chose London as the location of a required study abroad semester in college. As part of her studies in London, she was sent to Edinburgh for two weeks. Knowing that her father had an ancestral tie to Scotland (she saw lots of evidence of Cunningham’s in the history of Edinburgh!), she decided to surprise her father with a trip to Edinburgh for Christmas in 2018. On that trip, he began to fall in love with the people of Edinburgh. Through a variety of God-ordained circumstances, both Matthew and Marsena sensed God’s call to give their lives for those in Edinburgh who have yet to be introduced to Jesus.
Matthew says, “Some say we’re crazy — I say we’re obedient.”2
Matthew and Marsena will be the project coordinators for the “Send the Light to the Cities” project in Edinburgh.
Their first ministry project will be to establish the ministry training center that will facilitate the planting of the birthing church in Edinburgh. While on several preparatory trips, they have been able to begin building relationships with existing churches in Scotland and have also established an operations center at the project’s first church plant in the town of Rosyth (just on the edge of Edinburgh).
Their target date to move to Scotland full-time is August 10, 2020. They are currently speaking in churches to raise prayer and financial support for their ministry.
How You Can Join The Project Edinburgh Team
If you’ve read our pillar articles (which can be reached through the tabs at the top of this website), you know that our conviction is that all believers should be part of a team seeking to reach the unreached. Some will go, some will pray, some will provide financial support, some will provide logistical support.
Project Edinburgh represents a wonderful opportunity for you to be involved in such a team. Here are some ways you can join Matthew and Marsena’s team:
- You can pray for Matthew and Marsena as well as for the needs of the overall Project Edinburgh ministry. You can find information to inform your prayers at the Project Edinburgh Facebook page and at the Cunningham’s website.
- You can support Matthew and Marsena financially by contributing at their online giving page, by texting the keyword “Scotland” followed by the dollar amount to 843-21 to receive a link to register (example: Scotland $100), or by contacting Matthew and Marsena directly via their website or the Project Edinburgh Facebook page.
- If you are a pastor or missions leader in your church, you can invite them to speak at your church.
- You can consider physically going to Edinburgh as an intern to work in the ministry training center or as part of a short-term mission team focused on prayer walking, street evangelism, children’s ministries, etc. Contact Matthew and Marsena for more information.
1 “The Importance of Urban Mission.” Global Connections. www.globalconnections.org.uk/mission-issues/publications/sphere/urban-mission.
2 Cunningham, Matthew, guest. “#017 Matthew and Marsena Cunningham, Founders of Project Edinburgh, Missionaries to Scotland.” More Than A Conversation, 21 January 2020. www.spreaker.com/user/6716747/callaghan1