The first ecumenical affirmation of mission since
1982, invoking a new understanding of mission and evangelism amidst a
changing world and ecclesial landscape, has been presented to the
Central Committee of the World Council of Churches (WCC).
The statement, titled “Together towards life: Mission
and Evangelism in changing landscapes”, was prepared by the WCC's
Commission on World Mission and Evangelism (CWME). It was presented to
the WCC Central Committee on Thursday, 30 August.
The WCC Central Committee is a governing body
representing the 349 member churches. It is currently meeting at the
Orthodox Academy of Crete in Greece.
The statement draws on insights from Protestant,
Evangelical, Orthodox and Roman Catholic mission theologies, and will be
presented at the WCC 10th Assembly in Busan, Republic of Korea in 2013.
“The significance of the statement lies in its
concept of 'mission from the margins', which emphasizes the universality
of working for all Gods' people, as well as the creation, despite
divisions and divides,” said Dr Agnes Abuom, WCC Executive Committee
member from Kenya.
“The gift of the mission statement is that without
attacking the old paradigm of mission values, it invokes new
understandings which respond well to our different contexts, including
that of migrant churches,” she added.
Reflecting on the statement, the WCC general
secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit said, “After several periods of
mission and understandings of mission accompanying the ecumenical
movement since the 19th century, this perspective is now where we are,
acknowledging and appreciating the reality of the church and the
“We are a fellowship of churches in mission in all
these contexts, and the impulses and the inspiration for our work come
from all the many contexts in which we are doing mission.”
Speaking on the different socio-political contexts in
which churches work, Tveit said mission is “no longer an impulse coming
from (a few) centres in the north. It is really a multi-centred
reality. And my experience is that remarkably strong testimonies, with
great integrity in words and action, are often given when the church
represents a less privileged or even vulnerable position.”
Commenting on the statement, Archbishop Anastasios of
Tirana and Durres, who is the Orthodox primate of Albania and a WCC
president, pointed out the significance of mission in the lives of the
churches. “Mission of the church, and every living member of it, means
the obligation and the necessity to share the gifts which we have each
received from God. This means to proclaim the truth, love and power
revealed by Christ, the crucified and the resurrected one,” he said.
"To share with all
everywhere, by the power of the Holy Spirit, with our presence, silence,
speech, our acts of love, the fulness of life, the longing for justice
and peace all over the world," he added.
Along with the statement, the CWME will also produce
practical mission modules and training curricula. Other resources will
include publications and multimedia, to be shared at the upcoming WCC
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