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The church is the mission: integrating the IMC with the WCC.


This article discusses the reasons for the integration of the International Missionary Council with the World Council of Churches and evaluates the outcome of integration and the role of the International Review of Mission/s in this process. It focuses particularly on the role played by a key figure in this process, Lesslie Newbigin, the last general secretary of the IMC and the first director of world mission and evangelism in the WCC


At the third assembly (1961) of the WCC in New Delhi, the International Missionary Council (IMC) was integrated with the World Council of Churches (WCC), which was not only an event but also a process. From the inception of the WCC there were forces within both councils which drew them from being only associated to being more closely related. Uniting a council that was focused on mission with one focused on the church was the fitting organisational embodiment of more fundamental theological convictions. (1) Here we present the reasons for integration and evaluate the outcome and the role the International Review of Mission/s (IRM) in this process.

By the middle of the 20th century, the Protestant missionary movement viewed changing world events as a tide turning against Christian mission. However, the hostility against the Protestant missionary movement, and the resultant introspection, led to a more adequate definition and foundation of mission.

Protestant missions, which had emerged from the West, were losing confidence not only in their own validity, but more fundamentally in the enduring validity of the gospel. The turmoil in the supposed "Christian West" undermined confidence in Christianity and their authority to propagate it. Mission organisations felt this most critically in terms of dwindling finances and declining numbers of missionaries. Missions had grown complacent from the benevolence furnished by colonialism. But now, especially in the showcase mission field of China, hostile forces were thwarting the advance of traditional missions. These factors led mission leaders to seek stronger theological foundations for mission. They did so, acknowledging the increasing overlap and growing relationship between the IMC and the WCC. Organisational and theological factors demanded that this relationship be clarified.

Factors affecting integration

The possibility of a conservative schism

During the 1950s and 1960s some evangelicals, who "constitute a large part of the membership of WCC churches," (2) were constructively involved with the ecumenical movement. Evangelical resistance to integration was mainly concentrated in North America and Scandinavia. (3) Because of their sheer numbers, the role of conservative evangelicals in the USA was of particular concern. They were described as holding a conservative theology, a concern for purity in the church, a vivid missionary interest and a profound distrust of and refusal to join ecumenical organizations at any level. (4)

Lesslie Newbigin feared that integration could precipitate an evangelical schism--a view shared by others such as Max Warren and Stephen Neill. (5) Discernible trends in the two decades prior to integration suggested that this fear might be realised. Norman Goodall estimated that in 1957, 70 percent of all foreign missionaries were from the USA, a number that had more than doubled since the 1930s. Of those, only 42 percent were related to the National Christian Council of Churches (NCCC-USA); the other 58 percent were with agencies not cooperating with either the IMC or the WCC. (6) While the total number of missionaries from the USA was growing, the proportion of those cooperating with the WCC was dwindling dramatically. (7)

Already perceiving the WCC to be compromised theologically, American conservative evangelicals eschewed ongoing association with the IMC as it moved toward integration with the WCC. Their growing numbers and revenue were interpreted as divine sanction for them to continue with business as usual. This led to a polarization, leaving little room for more moderate evangelicals to maintain the middle ground. The loose, broad-based association the IMC had maintained for decades was fractured, and the relationship between evangelicals and "ecumenicals" became increasingly polarized and antagonistic.

The relationship between the WCC and the IMC

The IMC had associated with the WCC since its inception, as evident in shared leadership and an increasing overlap of operations. At the 1938 conference in Tambaram, the IMC had to face the question of how it would deal with what was emerging as the WCC. While supporting this development, the IMC sought to maintain its separate identity, but shortly after Tambaram, the IMC proposed the formation of a joint committee of the two councils. (8) For the next decade, the relationship between the two councils grew closer. Joint work in study, international affairs and the work of the East Asia Secretariat, (9) "have since become so deeply interwoven as to go beyond what was described in 1948 as the 'inter-relatedness of two autonomous councils.'" (10)

The repeated crossing of cultural barriers, as Newbigin attended central committee meetings, highlighted to him the very different worlds that existed between Geneva and his local parish in south India.
   I have felt acutely conscious of it, every time I have come from
   India to attend Central Committee meetings.... One feels that one
   has moved into a completely different world, and that it is very
   hard to relate the thinking going on in 'ecumenical circles' to the
   ordinary problems of parish ... that one left behind. (11)

This made Newbigin aware of the problems inherent in integrating the IMC, which was regionally based and had strong representation from the "younger churches" in contrast to the centralised and Western dominated WCC. There were disparities in theological understanding between the WCC and ordinary church members. The WCC centred in Geneva had a Western agenda at heart, and its historical legacy in the Faith and Order movement was biased towards Western ecclesiological concerns. Theological work was done in the context of the West, and tended to be dominated by this agenda. (12) Despite these disparities, there was a desire on both sides to move from relationships of paternalism and dependency to true partnership. To guard against Western domination and reflect a model for the global church, Newbigin proposed that what was created in Geneva would serve as an ecumenical model for other such study centres in Asia and Africa: "I think it is quite vital that we should take seriously the necessity for more decentralisation in the structure of the integrated Council". (13)

The problem of inter-church aid

The need to clarify the relationship between these two councils became even more pressing with the change in mandate of the division of inter-church aid (DICA) that the WCC had created to respond to the need for post-war reconstruction in continental Europe. Its mandate was to provide temporary emergency aid, although in 1954 the WCC expanded its mandate beyond Europe. This was clarified in 1955, giving the DICA a worldwide and permanent mandate. (14) Thus, at the time when Western mission boards were withdrawing from relationships with and rescinding their support of "younger churches," powerful service agencies were replacing mission boards' involvement with these churches. (15)

New initiatives and resources from the DICA, for the sake of "younger churches," were perceived as a threat by mission boards, and called for the relationship between the DICA and the IMC to be clarified. How were mission agencies to relate to service agencies? What was the best way to express the relationship between the two councils? The impetus for integration was an attempt to resolve this critical issue.

The IMC's solution was encapsulated in Newbigin's 1958 manifesto for integration, "One Body, One Gospel, One World." Regarding organization, his position was that DICA and the IMC should be united into one division of mission within an integrated council. This was supported by the IMC leadership, but overwhelmingly rejected by the central committee of the WCC. (16) The joint committee recommended that Newbigin's paper be published in IRM and Ecumenical Review, as a personal statement to promote wider discussion. (17) However, his concluding argument, on how DICA should relate to DWME (the Division of World Mission and Evangelism) in an integrated council was entirely omitted from publication. In this published paper, Newbigin was required to be much more circumspect than before. (18)

At the time of integration, the organisational decision was made to keep the DICA and the DWME as separate divisions within the integrated council, which failed to deal with the fundamental problem of the relationship between the DICA and the IMC. The central committee of the WCC adopted a more cautious path towards integration, resulting in the WCC incorporating the IMC into its existing structure, but without any substantial transformation of the WCC. (19) Just as missions were going through a major post-colonial re-evaluation, Newbigin argued that the WCC, as the international organ of the church, also needed to be restructured more fully to incorporate mission and wholeheartedly reflect that the church is God's mission to the world. Visser 't Hooft, general secretary of the WCC, argued that similar self-scrutiny "was no less imperative for the WCC", and should begin with the central committee. (20) But Newbigin's proposal was defeated. He viewed the alternative that was accepted as being "in danger of failing altogether to evoke the response which we desire." (21)

After integration, Newbigin persistently reminded the central committee of the need to overhaul the provisional nature of the WCC to "make the whole world council an organ of solidarity between the churches in mission and service." (22) However this did not take place, nor did Newbigin's other request, that the former IMC national councils become formally related to the whole WCC and not merely through the channel of the DWME. The WCC remained a council of churches, marginalising the national councils bequeathed by the IMC. Procrastination over this central issue led to the dissipation of resolve, the inability to effect change, and contributed to the decline of mission concern within the WCC. This was exacerbated by the mushrooming of numerous programmes within the WCC, thus diluting the influence of the DWME, which became one of many departments. From the IMC perspective, leaving the WCC unchanged at the time of integration gave the impression that it was also unchallenged, that the IMC was being absorbed into the WCC.

In retrospect, while serving as first director of the DWME and editor of the IRM, Newbigin expressed how pressing this issue had been: "No other issue loomed as large as this in the discussions leading to the integration of the two councils. It was always apparent that one test of the effectiveness of the integration would be at this point." (23) But in the heat of "ebate on how to structure an integrated council, both the IRM and Ecumenical Review had stifled debate by not going public on these matters; only the leadership of the councils was privy to the severity of the debate.

Changes in mission theology

With Indian independence in 1947 and other countries demanding decolonization, because of their association with domineering cultural and political Western powers, missions were being discredited and needed to be rehabilitated. The church "faces a radically new situation, and nothing will suffice save radical rethinking of the nature of her mission." (24) Besides the scourge of colonialism, other forces were also recognized, such as the resurgence of world religions. (25)

The post-colonial quest to reorganise and restructure missions led to more fundamental questioning of how mission should be redefined. Critical to Newbigin's thinking to avert disaster and steer towards a successful integration was the need to shift discussion from the organisational level to fundamental theological issues. Integration raised questions about the very nature of the church: if the church is the mission, how is that to be expressed, and what changes were needed within the WCC to embody mission?

The Rolle statement from the 1951 meeting of the central committee and the consensus it built, became the theological foundation for progress toward integration. Newbigin's draft, "The Calling of the Church to Mission and to Unity," proposed that the theological premise for the church's call to mission and to unity was grounded in the redemptive work of Christ:
   the Church's unity and apostolicity rest upon the whole redeeming
   work of Christ--past, present and future.... [Therefore] the
   obligation to take the Gospel to the whole world, and the
   obligation to draw all Christ's people together both rest upon
   Christ's whole work, and are indissolubly connected. (26)

The statement was accepted by the central committee, and the following year at Willingen by the IMC. The basic position was that the church's calling to mission and unity is based on Christ's work, and thus mission and unity are "indissolubly connected." (27) Newbigin recorded that "many of [the statement's] ideas ... helped to create the theological climate for the later integration of the IMC and the WCC." (28)

Although consensus had now been achieved through this statement, strident voices now challenged the church-centric model of mission. The Willingen conference was polarized between the voices of Hans Hoekendijk and Paul Lehmann on the one hand, who sought a shift from a church-centric model of mission "to speak more of God's work in the secular world, in the political, cultural and scientific movements of the time," and on the other hand, the majority of delegates who still adhered to the model established at Tambaram. (29)

The IRM was a crucial vehicle for disseminating Hoekendijk's view that the church was "an illegitimate centre" for mission, which thus was "bound to go astray." (30) Hoekendijk understood the church as a happening or event. "The nature of the Church can be sufficiently [and entirely] defined by its function, i.e. its participation in Christ's apostolic ministry." (31) As apostolic event, the church functioned to establish shalom in the world. (32) The distinction between church and world was blurred; the church was envisaged as "the laboratory, the diakonia of a little group, living in a concrete situation, and serving each other and their environment by reforming the structure of a segment of society." (33)

The ensuing debate between those who held to this model and those who rejected it led to fruitful enquiry on the relationship between the church and the world, and the relationship between salvation and secular history. The process of integration enabled a shift, from reflecting on the reorganisation and rehabilitation of missions, to more fundamental issues of how mission should be redefined. The acceptance of the missio Dei concept, which acknowledged that the church is missionary in its nature, led to exploring how this should be embodied in structures, ranging from the local congregation to the relationship between the IMC and the WCC. Their international union was understood symbolically as saying that "the church is the mission."

The missio Dei concept shifted understandings of the origin and source of mission from human to divine agency. It was therefore more correct to speak of mission, in the singular, reflecting divine agency than in the plural, reflecting human agency. This change was debated in the contents of the IRM, but not reflected in its title. While Newbigin was editor the IRM resisted changing its name, only "dropping the s," to become the International Review of Mission after Newbigin had departed. The change brought the IRM into line with the designation of the division (world mission and evangelism) and with the consensus that mission was to all continents, not just three, moving the concept of mission away from its historical "directedness" from the north to the south. (34)

Potential outcomes of integration

In planning for integration Newhigin accepted Walter Freytag's analysis of the potential outcome for missions. First, missions would "peter out through lack of conviction." The danger here was to abandon mission, as inextricably bound up with and tainted by colonialism, to proclaim that the age of missions was dead, and to turn instead to inter-church aid. The second outcome was that, rather than redefining mission, old paternalistic patterns would be perpetuated in "backward" regions. This could result in an evangelical schism from the IMC, and leave an enfeebled IMC to integrate with the WCC. The third potential outcome was creative re-thinking and re-statement of what mission means in the new context of the world and the church.

Newbigin interpreted the possibility of the first and second outcome occurring together: "an enfeebled missionary movement tacked on to the WCC as an appendage and a reactionary fundamentalist 'IMC Continuing' trying to enlist the support of the western churches." He was aware that the cohesiveness of the IMC constituency was fragile and would be tested by the process of integration, and the "very real danger that the IMC, in the process of trying to integrate with the WCC, will itself disintegrate." (35)

At the time of integration the WCC was rapidly changing both internally and in response to external geo-political forces. It was moving from becoming predominantly (but not exclusively) Protestant: for example, at its third assembly (1961) a large number of Orthodox Churches joined. (36) This New Delhi assembly also signalled the passing of the old generation and the initiation of a new generation of leaders. (37) Other important factors were the rise of secularism, theological tensions within the life of the WCC, and East-West political polarization. (38) For those at the heart of the ecumenical movement this raised the question as to whether the WCC could maintain its cohesion and integrity in spite of these threats. (39) Yet integration imbued the WCC with the resolve to make theological progress on the missionary nature of the church.

Redefining mission: from structure to substance

Integration helped facilitate reflection on the theology of mission. By the middle of the 20th century, key leaders in Protestant missions recognised that the missionary movement was in crisis. Their quest to reorganise and restructure missions focused on how the IMC and WCC should relate, as international symbols of the relationship between mission and church. Throughout this process, the temptation was to become consumed in organisational debate. But the desire to rehabilitate missions led to the more fundamental question of how mission should be redefined.

This theological quest was explored both institutionally and personally. As a consequence of integration, Newhigin made significant advances in his own theology of mission, particularly in the development of his trinitarian mission theology. He considered integration to be not only a reorganisation of mission, but more fundamentally, as requiring a redefinition of mission. He moved from analysing the structure to the substance of mission, which needed to be trinitarian. He realised that there were considerable problems with the church-centric model of mission which had come to the fore at Tambaram. His study papers written in light of the integration were initially critical of the inadequacies of this church-centric model, but limited in what they offered instead. Subsequently he developed a more adequate trinitarian foundation for mission. Not until nearly twenty years later, in his book The Open Secret, did Newbigin reach a trinitarian formulation with which he was content. (40)

Expressing mission ecclesiology

Integration of the IMC with WCC was always understood to mean more than an administrative union, but also as a sign that the church is the mission. Recovering this relationship between mission and the church implied that the prior ecclesiology was defective, incomplete or distorted. This theological breakthrough coincided with the time when the process of secularization was reaching its zenith. "The collapse of colonialism, global westernization, resurgent secularism, and a revolutionary optimism provided a volatile mix that made ... [the 1960s] 'volcanic.'" (41)

Issues raised by secularization affected the outcome of integration and raised key questions. One projected outcome of secularization was the formation of a unified world civilization. As a fitting response to this, integration sought to establish a "worldwide Christian fellowship committed to the task of mission to the whole world." (42) Traditionally missions had come from the West, but in recovering missionary ecclesiology it was recognized that "the home base is everywhere." (43) Wherever the church is, it is in the "mission field," and must therefore be oriented towards the world. (44)

These concerns were explicitly addressed at the first DWME conference (1963), under the theme, "mission in six continents." With this, the West as a neglected mission field came into focus, and not only the three other continents. With it also came the admission that the church had to move from redundant structures inherited from Christendom which did not express the missionary nature of the church. Issues of secularism dominated the proceedings. To this end, a WCC study on the missionary structure of the congregation dealt with secularization and proposed more appropriate church structures. (45) A central concern for Newbigin, then director of the DWME, was how each church was to be God's agent for mission and to change accordingly: "every congregation is itself an agent of mission." (46)

The united council was an inspirational sign to the worldwide church, prompting ongoing reflection on how adequately to embody this theological conviction. This led to a call for "bold experiments," especially at local and regional levels, to overcome the past institutional polarization and dichotomy that had existed between mission and church.

The CWME within the WCC

As early as 1963, Newbigin was assured that administratively the integration of the two councils had been successful. (47) The IMC had responded to criticism from "younger church" leaders to move beyond colonial models of mission. Yet the West continued to dominate WCC offices, funding and agenda. With its critics less prevalent or vocal, Western church life continued largely unscathed and unreformed. The need to restructure mission was not initially matched with a corresponding recognition that the church itself needed to change. (48) The integration of the IMC was accepted without an analogous reformation of the structure of the WCC, thus perpetuating the dichotomy between how theology is conceived and embodied.

The pressure to make such changes were absent because the regionalised ethos of the IMC limited its ability to impact what were the centralised tendency of the WCC. This was compounded by Newbigin's own admission:
   I have to confess that my own leadership as the first director of
   the new Division was defective. I was concerned about maintaining
   the continuity of relationships centred in the London and New York
   office of the IMC. Consequently for several years the staff of the
   new Division was divided and the presence in Geneva was not strong
   enough to make the needed impact there. (49)

With the expanding ecclesiastical membership of the WCC, one consequence of integration was to broaden the number and variety of churches involved in the missiological discussion. The IMC had been confined to Protestants, but now the Orthodox churches were included, as well as various independent churches. (50) Also, after Vatican II the Roman Catholic Church became more involved in these discussions. During the tenure of subsequent CWME directors, it was taken for granted that theological understandings of mission and unity belonged together. The question of integration was never re-opened, but instead attention was focused on how the WCC could be mobilised in the direction of mission in the world. (51)

After the 1970s the tide turned and the global significance of the WCC began to recede. Factors accounting for this include the mushrooming of many NGOs concerned with development and human rights, the growth of global church fellowships which could bypass the WCC, and the dramatically declining funding of the WCC. (52) The impact of the CWME as a division of the WCC was also diluted by the emergence of numerous small units within the WCC, each with a commission and budget, and each appealing directly to the churches, such as the programme to combat racism. (53) The size of the WCC shrank, but so too did the CWME. "[T]here has been a certain diminishing influence [of mission] from 1961 [un]til now". (54) The CWME "has been constantly reduced in its importance in the WCC due to financial and restructuring factors." (55) This was the result of a change in ethos which understood "traditional items like mission and Faith & Order as belonging to the old past." (56)

Evangelical / ecumenical schism and theological polarization

The integration of mission and unity in 1961 inaugurated many other ecumenical developments, but the 1960s "ended up in a most violent polarization." (57) Conservative evangelicals started a world missionary movement with a polemical relationship with the WCC. Ironically, although evangel and oikoumene are inextricably linked together, those working for mission became estranged from those pursuing unity. In 1950 the central committee clearly understood the terms to be inseparable: "[ecumenical] is properly used to describe everything that relates to the whole task of the whole Church to bring the Gospel to the whole world". Therefore no person or group could properly claim to be ecumenical without being evangelical, or vice-versa. (58)

The 1968 assembly of the WCC at Uppsala led to further polarization. The contentious report on the study of the missionary structure of the congregation provoked the most heated debate of the entire assembly. (59) Although many across a wide spectrum of Christian belief expressed their disapproval, the report was adopted by the assembly. (60) Bosch notes that this missiology then became the "received view" in WCC circles, in which the "distinction between church and world has, for all intents and purposes, been dropped completely." (61)

By the time of Lausanne (1974), despite its more conciliatory nature, John Stott was still aware of "the wide gap of confidence and credibility which exists today between ecumenical leaders and evangelicals, between Geneva and Lausanne." (62) This was exemplified in the numerous studies published around this time, contrasting the two streams of mission theology. Most, written by evangelicals, were critical of perceived erroneous tendencies within the WCC. (63) Further evidence of continued polarization was the hosting of separate mission conferences, giving the impression of ongoing competitiveness and unresolved differences. Thus in 1980, CWME (Melbourne) and Lausanne (Pattaya) held conferences within five weeks of each other. The Roman Catholic missiologist Thomas Stransky saw this schism as "the most ominous and depressing negative sign on the mission horizon of the next decade," which would institutionalise differences and force many to "take artificial sides." (64)

At least within Western churches, this polarization led to an ongoing schism between evangelical and ecumenical Christians that dominated the latter part of the 20th century. (65) The theological impetus for integration was the belief that the church is called both to mission and unity. But the outcome of integration was an ecumenical/ evangelical polarization in which the call to mission has been heard "on both sides--as a call not to unity but to separation." (66) Integration sought to solve the theological problem of relating mission to the church. But what evolved was bitter and protracted missiological confrontation between Geneva and Lausanne--much of it published in the IRM. (67)

Yet changes were afoot. At Lausanne, Latin American leaders such as Rene Padilla and Samuel Escobar brought a much needed social correction to an evangelicalism overly distorted by Western assumptions. (68) And in spite of the institutionalization of missiological differences, efforts at reconciliation were evident. Notable leaders, such as Newbigin, Stott, David Bosch, Emilio Castro and Bishop Mortimer Arias were able to bridge the gap between the two sides. Castro (69) held together an insistence on mission as proclamation with his Latin American concerns for social justice. (70) Arias, in his address to the WCC meeting at Nairobi (1975) demonstrated a desire for reconciliation by drawing "equally on the Lausanne Congress and the Roman Catholic Synod of Bishops." (71) He stressed that evangelism was an "essential, primary, normal, permanent and costly" task of the churches, which was warmly welcomed by evangelicals such as Stott. (72)

A further significant step in helping to heal the rift was the publication of the ecumenical affirmation on mission and evangelism, (73) which became a kind of catechism that many churches adopted as their own position. (74) One consequence was the collaboration between the CWME and Lausanne on evangelism, producing a common text, the Stuttgart Declaration (1987). (75)

Jacques Matthey reflects that after a period of pronounced polarization, the WCC and the Lausanne movement both are now more moderate. (76) His personal efforts, as a secretary of the CWME, have also helped to build bridges with evangelicals in the Lausanne movement and the World Evangelical Alliance.

The ongoing relevance of integration for today

Fifty years after integrating the two world councils, the organisational problems have passed, but the underlying impetus to develop an adequate theological relationship between mission and the church remains. Newbigin called for bold experimenting in how missionary ecclesiology should be expressed, but became silent on how the missional church should be structured. For example, this was not addressed in his manifesto which gave birth to the gospel and culture movement. (77) It focused instead on how, intellectually, to engage with a syncretised, "pagan" culture. (78) The question of how this was to be structurally embodied has only recently again come to the fore, and has been taken up most clearly in the "missional church" conversation, which acknowledges its theological indebtedness to Newbigin. (79) Perhaps this is the most enduring legacy of integration, the theological conviction that mission and unity belong together, and the continual quest for how to embody that adequately.

(1) This of course is a caricature, as both councils had overlapping concerns.

(2) N Goodall, "'Evangelicals' and WCC-IMC," IRM 47, no. 186 (1958), p. 211.

(3) Ibid., p. 210, 213. For the Scandinavia response to integration see K. Nissen, "Integration in Nordic Missions," in Missions from the North: Nordic Missionary Council, 50 Years, ed. Carl F. Hallencreutz, Johannes Aagaard, and Nils Bloch-Hoell. Universitetsforlaget, Oslo (1974); K Nissen, "Mission and Unity: A Look at the Integration of the IMC and the WCC," IRM 63 (1974).

(4) E.L. Smith, "The Conservative Evangelicals and the WCC," Ecuraenical Review 15, no. 2 (1963), p. 182.

(5) T.E. Yates, Christian Mission in the Twentieth Century, CUP, Cambridge (1994), pp. 155-6.

(6) Goodall estimated there to be 35,000 non-Roman Catholic missionaries, of which nearly 24,000 are from the USA and 6,500 (16%) are British. Goodall, "Evangelicals," p. 214. C.f. Smith, "Conservative Evangelicals," p. 182.

(7) Primarily as a reflection of the general malaise and decline in the Western church, but also due to the belief that indigenous local churches should be free to run their own affairs. Decline continued such that by 1969 only 28% of American Protestant missionaries were related to the NCCC-USA, further dropping to only 14% by 1975. R.D. Winter, "Ghana: Preparation for Marriage," IRM 67, no. 267 (1978), p. 349.

(8) Van Dusen, Minutes of the Assembly of the IMC, Ghana: December 28th, 1957 to January 8th, 1958, IMC, London (1958), p. 126.

(9) The East Asia Christian Conference (EACC) first met in Bangkok in 1949 and was constituted in Kuala Lumpur in 1959.

(10) Visscr 't Hooft, WCC Central Committee Minutes (hereafter, CCM), 1956, p. 110.

(11) Newhigin to Visser 't Hooft, 29/11/1958, School of Oriental and African Studies Archives (hereafter as SOAS): IMC, 26-11-25/2.

(12) For example, despite the international impact of the formation of the Church of South India discussion on united churches, this was kept off the agenda of the 1952 Faith and Order conference in Lurid. JEL Newbigin, Unfinished Agenda: An Autobiography. Eerdmans, Grand Rapids (1985), p. 139.

(13) Ibid.

(14) CCM, 1955, 31, 33. For an introduction to the history of the DICA see: G Murray, "Joint Service as an Instrument of Renewal," in The Ecumenical Advance, Vol. 2, 1948-1968, ed. Harold E. Fey, WCC, Geneva (1986).

(15) However, at least initially, service agencies were not replicating past paternalistic relationships. The withdrawal of Western mission agencies was to honour the requests of post-colonial "younger churches", and in part due to financial duress.

(16) Significant for the outcome of the discussion at the joint committee was a volte-face by Leslie Cooke, the director of the DICA, who, in 1956 had backed the idea of a single division. Cooke "Reflections concerning the relationship between ICA and Mission and their organisational expression in the integrated council of the WCC after 1961," 13/8/1958, Birmingham University Library Archives (hereafter as BUL): DA29/2/9/31, p. 4.

(17) Ibid, p. 10-12.

(18) JEL Newbigin, One Body, One Gospel, One World: The Christian Mission Today, IMC, London and New York (1958), pp. 38ff.

(19) Visser 't Hooft understood integration as a process in three stages: first, bringing the ecumenical movements of churches and missions together under one roof; second, laying the foundation for common strategic thinking on mission; and third, coordinating and unifying the work of missions with that of inter-church aid. Stage one would be achieved by integration in 1961. Only after that could there then be progression to the subsequent stages. Visser 't Hooft to Newbigin, 22/7/1958, World Council of Churches Archives (hereafter as WCC): 27.0015.

(20) CCM, 1958, p. 17.

(21) Newbigin, "The Organization of the Church, Mission to the World," June 1958, BUL: DA29/2/9/2, p. 16.

(22) Newbigin to Visser 't Hooft, 11/10/1963, WCC: 421.050.

(23) Emphasis added, JEL Newbigin, "Developments During 1962: An Editorial Survey," IRM 52 (1963), p. 6.

(24) GH Anderson, The Theology of the Christian Mission, SCM Press, London (1961), pp. xii-xiii.

(25) JEL Newbigin, "The Summons to Christian Mission Today," IRM 48, no. 190 (1959), p. 177.

(26) Central Committee, WCC, "The Calling of the Church to Mission and to Unity," Ecumenical Review 4, no. 1 (1951), p. 69.

(27) JEL Newbigin, "A Statement on the Missionary Calling of the Church," in Missions under the Cross, ed. Norman Goodall, Edinburgh House (1953), pp. 193-4.

(28) Newbigin, Unfinished Agenda, p. 133.

(29) Ibid., p. 138.

(30) Emphasis in original, JC Hoekendijk, "The Church in Missionary Thinking," IRM 41 (1952), p. 332.

(31) Ibid., p. 334.

(32) JC Hoekendijk, The Church Inside Out, SCM Press, London (1967), pp. 19-20. This is a reprint of an earlier article, JC Hoekendijk, "The Call to Evangelism," IRM 39 (1950), pp. 162-175.

(33) Hoekendijk, The Church Inside Out, p. 29.

(34) W.H. Crane, "Dropping the S," IRM 58, no. 230 (1969), pp. 141-144.

(35) Newbigin to DT Niles, 26/5/1958, WCC: DT Niles letters, #39-41.

(36) At the first assembly (1948) various Orthodox Churches joined, including the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the autonomous churches of Finland, Cyprus, Greece, and the Oriental Orthodox of Ethiopia and South India. More joined at the second assembly (1954). Martin Conway to Laing, email, 06/09/2008.

(37) WA Visser 't Hooft, Memoirs, SCM, London (1973), pp. 309-310. This was Visser 't Hooft's last assembly as general secretary.

(38) This of course became internalised within the WCC. E.g. the nomination of a candidate to a particular committee by the Russian Orthodox Church was apparently influenced by Russia's political interests in the Middle East. Newbigin, Unfinished Agenda, p. 192.

(39) Visser 't Hooft, Memoirs, p. 309.

(40) JEL Newbigin, The Open Secret: Sketches for a Missionary Theology, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids (1978), Newbigin, Unfinished Agenda, p. 199. It can be concluded that Newbigin's trinitarian theology of mission arose as a result of his engagement on the issues raised by integration. He does not attribute any other sources influencing the development of his theology on this issue. For further discussion see Mark Laing, From Crisis to Creation: Lesslie Newbigin and the Reinvention of Christian Mission, Wipf & Stock, Eugene (201l), chapter 7.

(41) MW Goheen, As the Father Has Sent Me, I Am Sending You: J.E. Lesslie Newbigin's Missionary Ecclesiology, Boekencentrum, Zoetermeer 2000), p. 66. For a good introduction to the changing context of ecumenism see: Martin E Marty, "The Global Context of Ecumenism 1968-2000," in A History of the Ecumenical Movement. Volume 3, 1968-2000, ed. John H. Y Briggs, Mercy Amba Oduyoye, and George Tsestis, WCC, Geneva (2004).

(42) Newbigin, "Summons to Mission," p. 186.

(43) Newbigin, One Body, pp. 25, 27.

(44) JEL Newbigin, "Mission to Six Continents," in The Ecumenical Advance: A History of the Ecumenical Movement, Vol. 2, 1948-1968, ed. Harold E. Fey, SPCK, London (1970), p. 193.

(45) WCC, The Church for Others and The Church for the World: A Quest for Structures for Missionary Congregations, WCC, Geneva (1967).

(46) Emphasis added, Newbigin to Wieser, 18/12/1975, WCC: 421, 301.

(47) Newbigin detailed the impact of integration upon various programmes. JEL Newbigin, "Director's Report," in Minutes of the Second Meeting of the CWME, Mexico City, December 8th-19th, 1963, ed. WCC (London, New York: The Commission, 1963), p. 76.

(48) Hoekendijk's early pleas (from 1952) were being heeded however by the Uppsala assembly (1968).

(49) JEL Newbigin, "Integration--Some Personal Reflections 1981," IRM 70, no. 280 (1981), p. 250.

(50) E Castro, "Editorial," IRM 70, no. 280 (1981), p. 238.

(51) Castro, interview with Laing, 10/9/2008.

(52) Martin Conway estimated that, before the change in tax legislation introduced by Chancellor Kohl, as much as 80% of total WCC funding was coming from the German churches. This source of funding decreased dramatically with changes to German tax law. Conway, interview, 17/8/2008.

(53) Castro recalled that sixteen or seventeen units emerged, Castro, interview, 10/9/2008.

(54) Jacques Matthey, interview with Laing, 20/8/2008.

(55) Ibid.

(56) Ibid.

(57) J Aagaard, "Trends in Missinlogical Thinking During the Sixties," IRM 62, no. 245 (1973).

(58) JA Mackay, "What the Ecumenical Movement Can Learn from Conservative Evangelicals," Christianity Today 10 (1966): 20.C.f. JEL Newbigin, "Cross-Currents in Ecumenical and Evangelical Understandings of Mission," IBMR 6, no. 4 (1982), p. 146.

(59) Conway, interview, 17/8/2008.

(60) WCC, New Delhi to Uppsala 1961-1968: Report of the Central Committee to the 4th Assembly of the WCC, WCC, Geneva (1968), pp. 66-71.

(61) DJ Bosch, Transforming Mission, p. 383.

(62) JRW Stott, "Response to Bishop Mortimer Arias," IRM 65, no. 257 (1976), p. 33.

(63) For example: RC Bassham, Mission Theology: 1948-1975 Years of Worldwide Creative Tension Ecumenical, Evangelical, and Roman Catholic, William Carey Library, Pasadena (1979); D.J. Bosch, Witness to the World: The Christian Mission in Theological Perspective, Marshall Morgan & Scott, London (1980); A.F. Glasser and D.A. McGavran, Contemporary Theologies of Mission, Baker, Grand Rapids (1983); R.E. Hedlund, Roots of the Great Debate in Mission, Evangelical Literature Service for Church Growth Research Centre, Madras (1981); H.T. Hoekstra, The World Council of Churches and the Demise of Evangelism, Tyndale House, Wheaton (1979).

(64) TF Stransky, "Mission Power in the 1980s," IRM 69, no. 273 (1980), p. 48.

(65) W Richebacher, "Missio Dei: The Basis of Mission Theology or a Wrong Path?" IRM 92, no. 367 (2003), pp, 593-4.

(66) JEL Newbigin, "The Call to Mission--a Call to Unity?" in The Church Crossing Frontiers, Peter Beyerhaus and Carl F Hallencreutz (eds), Gleerup, Lund (1969), p. 257.

(67) E.g. The debate over the "The Frankfurt Declaration," P Beyerhaus, "Mission and Humanization," IRM 60, no. 237 (1971), pp. 11-24.

(68) For a study on this theme see J Thomas, From Lausanne to Manila: Evangelical Social Thought, ISPCK, New Delhi (2003).

(69) Castro was director of CWME from 1973-83, and general secretary of the WCC 1985-1992.

(70) Castro, telephone interview with Laing, 10/9/2008, Yates, Christian Mission, 219.

(71) Ibid.

(72) M Arias, "That the World May Believe," IRM 65, no. 257 (1976): 13-26, Stott, "Response to Arias," pp. 30-34.

(73) "Mission and Evangelism: An Ecumenical Affirmation," IRM 71, no. 284 (1982), pp. 427-457.

(74) Castro interview, 10/9/2008.

(75) Ibid.

(76) Matthey, interview, 20/8/2008.

(77) JEL Newbigin, The Other Side of 1984: Questions for the Churches, WCC, Geneva (1983).

(78) G.R. Hunsberger, Bearing the Witness of the Spirit: Lesslie Newbigin's Theology of Cultural Plurality, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids (1998), pp. 4-8.

(79) E.g. D.L. Guder, ed., Missional Church: A Vision for the Sending of the Church in North America, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids (1998), pp. 3-7.

Mark Laing taught missiology at Union Biblical Seminary, Pune, for several years. This article is based on his doctoral thesis, a revised form of which is being published as From Crisis to Creation: Lesslie Newbigin and the Reinvention of Christian Mission, by Wipf & Stock.
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Author:Laing, Mark
Publication:International Review of Mission
Date:Nov 1, 2011
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