Printer Friendly


After the 9th Assembly of the World Council of Churches (WCC) in Porto Alegre in 2006, the Commission on World Mission and Evangelism decided to engage in a process of developing a new WCC affirmation on mission and evangelism, working toward the WCC's 10th assembly in Busan, Republic of Korea, in 2013. Since the integration of the International Missionary Council (IMC) and WCC in New Delhi, 1961, there has been only one official WCC position on mission and evangelism, which was approved by the central committee in 1982, Mission and Evangelism: An Ecumenical Affirmation.

The new affirmation is not a revision of the 1982 document but is intended to bring new issues and convictions to the next WCC assembly in 2013, since the context of mission and evangelism has changed significantly during the last three decades. As the 1982 Affirmation was one of the most influential mission texts not only in the ecumenical circle but also within the worldwide missional movement during the last century, the new affirmation aims to provide new concepts and directions of mission for WCC member churches and affiliated mission bodies and seeks an appeal that is even wider than the WCC.

The four working groups of the Commission on World Mission and Evangelism (CWME) and three WCC mission-related networks were engaged in a study process for a number of years until 2010 on the following themes:

* CWME Working Group on Transformative Spirituality and Mission on two themes: "pneumatological foundations of mission" and, "mission, creation and spirituality"

* CWME Working Group on Ecclesiology and Mission on "missional church and unity between church and mission"

* CWME Working Group on Evangelism and Unity on the issues of "authentic evangelism, dialogue and prophecy"

* CWME Working Group on Health and Healing on "healing and wholeness for all"

* WCC Network of Just and Inclusive Communities on "mission from the margins"

* The Ecumenical Network for Multicultural Ministry and Mission (ENFORMM) on "migration and multicultural churches"

* The Oikotree Movement on "economic globalization and eco-justice."

In 2011, each of the seven working groups formed their drafting groups and produced eight study reports, which were collected by the CWME drafting committee, to feed into the new ecumenical affirmation. Since July 2011, the committee has worked on the draft of the new WCC ecumenical affirmation on mission and evangelism which will be presented to the CWME Pre-Assembly Mission Event, 22-27 March 2012, in Manila, the Philippines.

Originally, CWME had planned to organize a WCC World Mission Conference (WMC) between the Porto Alegre and Busan assemblies, in keeping with the WMC tradition established since Edinburgh 1910. However, the CWME Executive Group revised the original proposal because a number of affiliated mission bodies and the WCC Executive Committee expressed their concerns about holding two big mission conferences during this one period i.e., Edinburgh 2010 and a WMC. Therefore, the CWME Executive Group came up with an alternative proposal to organize a CWME preassembly mission event in 2012 which would be smaller than a regular WMC yet could contribute to the 2013 Busan assembly. While Edinburgh 2010 sought to develop broader collaboration in mission, the Manila mission event is highly important for the preparation of the Busan assembly through the work on the new WCC ecumenical affirmation on mission and evangelism.

This issue of IRM publishes the outcome of the whole coordinated process: the final draft of the new ecumenical affirmation on mission and evangelism, Together toward Life." Mission and Evangelism in Changing Landscapes, and eight inputs from the above-mentioned seven groups. As the coordinators of each of the seven groups introduce their respective study reports, I would like to focus on key issues of the new ecumenical affirmation. The affirmation begins with ten important missiological questions that CWME believes are the most significant and urgent today. There follow four main chapters and the conclusion, with ten ecumenical affirmations on mission and evangelism. To help your reading, I would like to highlight the following distinctive perspectives on this document.

First, the new ecumenical affirmation focuses on the mission of the Holy Spirit (missio Spiritus) as its theological framework within the trinitarian understanding of mission (missio Dei). This with the intention to embrace dynamism, transformation and diversity as the main concepts of mission in changing landscapes today.

Second, the statement affirms that the goal of mission is affirming Life in all its fullness. As God's mission is life-giving mission, it attempts constantly to discern how we can together participate in missio Spiritus through our common witness. Particularly, the new affirmation aims at developing further the so-called "San Antonio Position" (1) by introducing "wisdoms for life."

Third, creation and spirituality are the heart of mission. In this statement God's mission is understood beyond anthropocentric goals. God's mission is not only for the salvation of humanity alone but includes the earth and the whole creation. Spirituality is a key element that reconnects humanity with God, creation and neighbours. Furthermore, it inspires and energizes mission as transformation. Therefore, the cosmic dimension of mission and unity is emphasized in this document.

Fourth, the new affirmation is an ecumenical conviction. It articulates diverse understandings of mission that exist in different traditions and contexts and comprehensively addresses them through an ecumenical convergence. Compared to the 1982 text, in addition to Protestant thinking about mission, Orthodox, Pentecostal and Roman Catholic mission understandings are strongly reinforced. The new landscapes of world Christianity are highlighted with the concepts of mission from the margins, issues of migration and economic globalization.

Fifth, the new statement strongly affirms a renewed commitment to evangelism in humility and respect. Sharing the good news of Jesus Christ is an ultimate concern of mission. In every generation and every context, it is life-saving news to the whole world. The text examines how to communicate the gospel in an individualized, secularized and materialized contemporary world.

Lastly, the relation between church and mission is revisited. When IMC united with WCC in 1961, there was missiological recognition of the church as a primary agent of mission. IMC, a mission body, intended to renew the church as missionary church through integration with the council of churches. Celebrating the 50th anniversary of this historic integration, CWME renewed its commitment to the ongoing efforts of transforming the church to become truly missional.

I regret that at the Manila event space in which the participants will discuss comprehensively the new mission affirmation is limited. Therefore, the editor has decided to devote this issue of IRM as an opportunity for participation in this process of the wider readership and would like to invite your comments, suggestions for further improvements, and criticism on the new affirmation. CWME will try its best to incorporate your opinion, if you send it through email:

As secretary of the Commission, I would like to express my deep appreciation to the CWME commissioners and the numerous missiologists and practitioners who contributed to this grand study process. My particular thanks go to Dr Kirsteen Kim, chair of the CWME overall drafting committee, and Dr Puleng LenkaBula, who was the main editor during the first half of the process. Unfortunately, because of illness, Puleng could not complete this process and Kirsteen as the chair worked enormously for the construction of the final draft. This missiological discernment process owes a great deal to the efforts and leadership of the following colleagues, who coordinated the seven groups: Prof. Maria Aranzazu Aguado, Rev. Dr Peter Cruchley-Jones, Rev. Dr Deenabandhu Manchala, Dr Manoj Kurian, Dr Beate Jakob, Dr Katalina Tahaafe-Williams, Mr John Baxter-Brown, Rev. Dr Seong-won Park, and Prof. Annemarie Mayer. Last but not least, I am grateful for the leadership and commitment of the CWME officers, Metropolitan Dr Geevarghese Mor Coorilos (moderator), Dr Kirsteen Kim (vice-moderator) and the secretary for their excellent leadership and tireless energy, especially for their crucial editorial work during the last stage.

The International Review of Mission marked a century of work in mission studies with a public celebration, held on 9 December 2011 at the Philip Potter Library of the World Council of Churches, launching its centenary issue. Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, WCC general secretary, spoke of the impressive longevity of IRM, which at 100 years still maintains its relevance and brings vitality to the ongoing discussions and discernment about mission and evangelism. Metropolitan Dr Geevarghese Mor Coorilos, CWME moderator said, "IRM, over the last 100 years, has influenced thousands of missiologists, mission bodies and churches through its profound discussion of missiological issues. Even at the age of 100, IRM continues to provide us with inspiration and challenge." IRM will continue its ceaseless journey into another century of ecumenical missiology to discern together what God's mission is today and tomorrow!

(1) "We cannot point to any other way of salvation than Jesus Christ; at the same time we cannot set limits to the saving power of God." Section I Report, [section] 26, Frederick R. Wilson, ed., The San Antonio Report, Geneva, WCC, 1990, p.32.
COPYRIGHT 2012 World Council of Churches
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2012 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Keum, Jooseop
Publication:International Review of Mission
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Apr 1, 2012
Previous Article:Editorial.
Next Article:Together toward Life Mission and Evangelism in Changing Landscapes.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2018 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters