World Council of Churches: Towards a Missionary Ecumenical Movement

The World Council of Churches (WCC) has chosen Africa for the next World Mission Conference, to be held in Arusha, Tanzania, between 8-13 March 2018. One of its goals is the establishment of a missionary ecumenical movement.

After sixty years, Africa will once again host the World Mission Conference, the most important ecumenical event on the theme of evangelisation promoted by the World Council of Churches every ten years. A press release by the interfaith body, headquartered in Geneva (and with which the Catholic Church, while not participating, maintains a strong collaborative relationship) announced that the proposal to hold the conference was approved by the WCC Central Committee at its meeting in Trondheim, Norway. The World Mission Conference is to be held in Tanzania, from 8 to 13 March 2018. The conference theme is ‘Moving in the Spirit: Called to Transforming Discipleship’. The previous conference, which was held in Edinburgh in 2010 – the Scottish city where the first world mission conference took place in 1910 – marked one century of sharing reflections on mission among Christian Churches.

The common awareness of being divided but at the same time united in announcing the Gospel throughout the world paved the way to initiatives which would lead to the creation of the Ecumenical Council of Churches in 1948. The conference convened in 2018 is the first to be held in Africa since 1958, when it was hosted in Ghana. More than 700 delegates from churches worldwide are expected to gather in Arusha for the event hosted by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania.

Dr Jooseop Keum, the Director of the CWME (Commission on World Mission and Evangelism), explained: “We recognize that the African continent is one of the most vibrant regions of world Christianity.

“It is important that the spirit of Africa pervades the conference from planning through to delivery. A significant number of speakers and participants will be from the region.”

“World Mission Conferences have always been an opportunity for churches, mission agencies and practitioners to meet and vision together for the coming years”, Keum noted. “Through the conference we want to launch an ecumenical missionary movement. We see this as a call to work with a wide range of partners from Roman Catholic, Pentecostal and Evangelical churches and movements to meet the challenges of doing mission work today.”

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