[World Council of Churches] With more than 200 participants from around the globe, an event of the World Council of Churches (WCC) Commission on World Mission and Evangelism (CWME) starts today in Manila, the Philippines. Its aim is to seek renewed thinking on mission and evangelism, developing a draft of the WCC statement on mission and evangelism that succeeds a statement of thirty years ago.
Hosted by the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP), the event will continue from 22 March to 27 March, focusing on the theme “Together towards life: mission and evangelism in changing landscapes”. Participants will analyze a draft of the statement on mission and evangelism to be presented at the WCC 10th Assembly in Busan, Korea in 2013.
On the opening day, church leaders stressed the values of embracing dynamism, transformation and diversity as part of the statement on mission and evangelism.
“This new document offers us an opportunity to challenge the global church to move out further into the deep end of mission and evangelism to engage the life-denying realities that are enslaving people,” said the Rev. Dr Roderick Hewitt, a minister of the United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands and former moderator of the Council for World Mission.
“The future authenticity of the church’s mission will be realized when the church goes beyond itself and helps people who are hurting others, themselves and the environment,” stated Hewitt in his keynote speech.
The WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit said that the statement on mission and evangelism will contribute greatly to the WCC Assembly theme “God of Life, lead us to justice and peace”.
“The church has a mission to recognize and empower the marginalized as subjects of mission and not as objects only. Those on the boundaries are the frontiers in mission who can provide a vantage point for a new mission thinking that generates creative alternatives,” said Tveit in his opening address.
The Rev. Jennifer Leath, member of the WCC Joint Consultative Group with Pentecostal Churches and of ECHOS, the WCC commission on youth in the ecumenical movement, offered theological reflections at the opening ceremony.
“In this season of social protests and political upheavals throughout the world, it is essential to discern the voice of Jesus with respect to our pursuit for justice,” said Leath.
She went on to say that it is “the mission to love God with all of our heart, soul and mind – and to love our neighbours as ourselves.”
Fr Rex Reyes, general secretary of the NCCP, brought in the realities of the Asian churches and particularly of the Philippines in the context of mission and evangelism in his opening speech.
“The proclamation of God’s peace and justice strikes at the core of Christian mission in the Philippines and in other parts of the world,” said Reyes.
“The proclamation of abundant life in Christ is imperative to mission in Asia, where realities that cause human misery deny the same. However, amidst these grim realities lie stories of hope from communities rising to the political and economic challenges,” added Reyes.