The Commission on World Mission and Evangelism (CWME) of the World Council of Churches (WCC) has begun preparing for a next world mission conference, scheduled for the first half of 2005. The conference will focus on churches as reconciling and healing communities. "In a time of globalization, with increasing violence, fragmentation and exclusion, the mission of the church is to receive, celebrate, proclaim and work for the fullness of life in Christ," states the CWME in the final report from its meeting at Techny Towers, Illinois, USA, from 29 August to 5 September.
The 2005 conference will coincide with the midpoint of the Decade to Overcome Violence (DOV), launched by the WCC in 2001. "In this context, the ministry of reconciliation is a concept that needs to be explored in order to renew the practice of mission and evangelism," explains Jacques Matthey, the coordinator of the Mission and Evangelism team.
In search of a new style
According to Matthey, the commission recommended that the conference move away from producing long reports and, rather, build on contributions and draw on experiences from local churches and mission groups worldwide. The conference should provide opportunities to discuss case studies of healing and reconciling communities, and also offer safe spaces for more personal exchanges, informal encounters and prayer. The study aspect will not, however, be neglected, but will be emphasized during the preparatory period.
Evangelicals, Pentecostals and Roman Catholics
For the first time in its history, the commission includes representatives of the Roman Catholic Church, Evangelical and Pentecostal churches and bodies among its voting members. These new opportunities of cooperation will be made visible during the preparatory period, as well as at the conference itself. Steps towards more intentional dialogue and genuine common witness could become significant Christian contributions to overcoming conflicts, the commission said.
The commission proposed a 500-participants' conference so as to allow participation of people involved at the frontiers of mission. It set criteria for a venue, and elected a planning committee of 12 to work on the overall guidelines decided at Techny, and to prepare more detailed proposals for approval by the WCC Central Committee in September 2002.
The CWME is chaired by the Rev. Ruth Bottoms of the Baptist Union of Great Britain, and by the Rev. Dr George Mathew from the Syrian Orthodox Church, India. It will meet again as a full commission in spring 2003.
The World Council of Churches is a fellowship of
churches, now 342, in more than 100 countries in all continents from
virtually all Christian traditions. The Roman Catholic Church is not a
member church but works cooperatively with the WCC. The highest governing
body is the assembly, which meets approximately every seven years. The WCC
was formally inaugurated in 1948 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Its staff is
headed by general secretary Konrad Raiser from the Evangelical Church in