Since 1982 there has been only one official statement of the World Council of Churches (WCC) on mission and evangelism. Now in 2012 the WCC's Commission on World Mission and Evangelism (CWME) is preparing another statement to invoke new understanding of mission and evangelism amidst changing world and ecclesial scenarios.
The statement, titled “Together towards life: Mission and Evangelism in Changing Landscapes”, will be presented at the WCC 10th Assembly in Busan, Korea in 2013 once it is approved by the WCC Central Committee. This landmark document draws on insights from Protestant, Evangelical, Orthodox and Roman Catholic mission theologies.
The draft of the statement was recently shared at the CWME pre-assembly event taking place in Manila, the Philippines from March 22-27.
“The statement aims to bring new issues and convictions to the upcoming WCC assembly, since the concepts of mission and evangelism have changed significantly during the last three decades,” explained Rev. Dr Jooseop Keum, CWME secretary, at the event in Manila.
The CWME has worked on this statement since the WCC Assembly in Porto Alegre, Brazil in 2006, and the current draft was approved by its executive committee in January of this year.
The International Missionary Conference (IMC) was integrated into the WCC in New Delhi, India in 1961. Subsequently, the WCC developed a statement on its role in mission titled “Mission and Evangelism: An Ecumenical Affirmation.” The new statement will succeed that document, first issued in 1982.
“The statement will not replace the 1982 affirmation on mission and evangelism. It would be another statement, which will seek a broad appeal, even wider than WCC member churches and affiliated mission bodies, so that we can commit ourselves to fullness of life for all,” said Keum.
Some of the themes from the statement discussed at the conference included a theological framework describing the mission of the Holy Spirit (missio Spiritus), embracing dynamism, transformation and diversity in mission. There were reflections on the salvation of humanity and creation together, bringing ecological and environmental concerns into the mission statement. Themes related to health and healing, migration and economic globalization were also addressed.
The participants discussed the concept of renewed commitment to evangelism with humility and respect, examining how to communicate the gospel in today's world. Revisiting the relationship between mission and church remains one of the major themes from the statement being discussed at the event.
--March 22, 2012