Mission - Events

A. Background

Edinburgh 1910 World Mission Conference

From June 14 to 23 1910, Edinburgh (UK) was a host to a World Missionary Conference, which brought together a number of Western Protestant denominations and mission agencies (mostly from North America and North Europe).

It was organised in the spirit of bringing together diverse Christian denominations, and mission agencies for the purpose of defining world mission.

The conference's dual vision could be summed up as 'mission and unity', or 'unity for purpose of mission'. Eight (8) commissions were discussed and reflected on at the Conference, which finally resulted in a document Mission in Humility and Hope.

The Eight Commissions were:

  1. Carrying the Gospel to all the Non-Christian World
  2. The Church in the Mission Field
  3. Education in Relation to the Christianization of National Life
  4. Missionary Message in Relation to the Non-Christian World
  5. The Preparation of Missionaries
  6. The Home Base of Missions
  7. Missions and Governments
  8. Co-operation and the Promotion of Unity

As can be seen from the themes of the commissions, the 1910 Conference was being held in the context of mission enterprise from Europe to the rest, and thus the watchword of the time was: "The Evangelization of the World in This Generation."

There was a sense of obligation and urgency to take the gospel to the ends of the earth. Asia was especially the continent that was viewed as the mission field of the time.

"A call to unity among Protestant missionaries was also a common desire expressed at the Conference, although no common liturgy was celebrated among the delegates while in Edinburgh." However, it was this desire for unity in mission that resulted in the formation of the World Council of Churches (WCC) in 1947. Therefore the WCC traces its beginnings back to the Edinburgh 1910 vision.

Many other achievements in world mission enterprise are associated with Edinburgh 1910 conference, which is held as one of the "defining moments of the Western missionary movement" and thus occupies a very significant place in the life and mission of the Church.

Realitites of Edinburgh 1910

  • Although it was an ecumenical mission gathering, many Christian denominations and mission agencies were not represented.
  • Notable absent groups were the Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Pentecostals and most Evangelical churches and organisations; Africans and South Americans Christians were not present either.

 

B. Edinburgh 2010 Celebration

In 2000, an idea was born to commemorate the 1910 conference. Since 2002, several preparatory meetings were held, and a series of conferences based around the 1910 eight (8) commissions have been organised in Edinburgh as a way of celebrating and preparing for the Edinburgh 2010 celebration.

Edinburgh 2010 General Council

As noted above, one of the weaknesses of the Edinburgh 1910 conference is that, although it was an ecumenical mission gathering, many Christian denominations and mission agencies were not represented. This time around, the Edinburgh 2010 aims to widely represented and inclusive!

Therefore a widely and inclusive organising body (General Council) for the Edinburgh 2010 Conference formally met and was constituted in September 2007.

The General Council, the official organising team for the Edinburgh 2010 conference aims at ensuring that all those who were not represented 100 years ago are present this time around. The composition of the General Council itself includes both those who were present and those not represented at the 1910 conference.[1]

In ensuring widely representation at every level of the process, the speakers on the eight conferences so far held, have come from various denominational backgrounds, and especially those who were not present at the 1910 conference.

There is also an appreciation of the strong Christian presence in the global south and its influence in the Christian world today. It is therefore expected that more than 50% participants at the Edinburgh 2010 will come from the global south.

To underscore this appreciation, the "Edinburgh 2010" conference had initially been expected to take place in South Africa, but this idea was abandoned upon realising that the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization was also planning its congress in South Africa in the same year.

Edinburgh 2010 Theme - Witnessing to Christ Today

The conference is being organised to achieve three aims:

  • Celebrate what God has done and is doing in Christian world mission
  • Repent/Confess past and present mistakes
  • Look to the Future

Date: Wednesday 2 to Sunday 6 June 2010

Participation

The Anglican Communion is a member of the General Council, a body responsible to organise the Edinburgh 2010 Conference.

Colleges, institutions and individuals are encouraged and invited to participate in the Edinburgh 2010 process and in the actual event through the followings ways:

  • by either hosting or contributing articles and publications to the nine(9)study themes[2]
  • the final event in 2010 - attend or/and pay for participants who cannot otherwise afford to attend the conference.[3]
  • Other events being organised in other parts of the global related to Edinburgh 2010, such as the Lausanne Congress, taking place from 16-25 October 2010 in Cape Town South Africa.

Edinburgh 2010 Secretariat

The Edinburgh 2010 Secretariat in based at New College, Edinburgh University, under the leadership of the Edinburgh 2010 International Director, Dr. Daryl Balia.

Notes:

  • Expression of interest to participate or request for further information about the study themes can be sent to the Edinburgh 2010 Director, Dr. Daryl Balia at: D.Balia@ed.ac.uk
  • Information about the Anglican Communion membership at the Edinburgh 2010 General Council can be directed to the Anglican Communion Mission and Evangelism Research/Project Officer, John Kafwanka, at: john.kafwanka@aco.org
  • Edinburgh 2010 website: http://www.edinburgh2010.org/

 

Appendix I: General Council

Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization

World Alliance of Reformed Churches

  • Lutheran World Federation
  • World Evangelical Alliance, and World Evangelical Alliance Mission Commission
  • Council for World Mission/CEVAA/United Evangelical Mission
  • International Association for Mission Studies
  • Seventh Day Adventist
  • Anglican Communion
  • Pontifical Council of the Roman Catholic Church - Ecumenical Representative´┐Ż
  • Pentecostal
  • World Methodist Council
  • World Baptist Alliance
  • Churches Together in Britain & Ireland
  • Latin American Theological Fraternity
  • Orthodox Churches
  • World Council of Churches
  • African Independent Churches
  • World Student Christian Federation
  • Church of Scotland

 

Appendix II: The 2010 Mission Study Themes

1. Foundations for mission

The task will be to explore how a Trinitarian understanding of God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit relates to the theory and practice of mission; how the confession that God has a missionary identity impacts Christian witness; how a discernment of the Trinitarian God's inner relationships and love impacts ecclesiology, community life and society. The meaning of salvation will be considered in its biblical witness and in relation to freedom from every form of slavery in every context and culture. The interfaces between the Trinity, mission, salvation and the interpretation of scripture (hermeneutics) will have to be explored.

2. Christian mission among other faiths

This study track will investigate ways of witnessing to Christ while acknowledging the religious and cultural plurality of a world experiencing a resurgence of religious belief and an escalation of conflict. It will explore the theological meaning of religious plurality reflecting on how it bears on Christian soteriology and missiology and address questions of conversion, proselytism, dialogue and encounter.  It will explore issues such as religious fundamentalism, persecution, 'secret' and 'churchless' believers and the continuing growth of many different forms of religious conviction. Studies undertaken under this theme will as much as possible be conducted together with or in consultation with representatives of other faiths. 

3. Mission and postmodernities

Work under this theme will concern issues raised by the new phenomena of postmodernity in its various forms in North and South and its significance for mission. This will involve an investigation of 21st century thought structures, religious beliefs and practices as well as ethical principles in a world of information technology. It will also require consideration of the influence of post-colonialism, economic structures, internationalism and engagement (or disengagement) with institutions and particularly with institutional religion. People involved in this study will discern commonalities and particularities in postmodern developments in different regions of the world. 

4. Mission and power

The task will be to discern how mission is practised in a world shaped by various forms of power: spiritual, political, military, financial and international; raising issues of culture change, human rights, ecological sustainability and inequalities in the production, distribution and consumption of resources. This track will consider tensions and asymmetries resulting from the exercise of power and how these affect the sharing and communication of the Gospel message and life. It will assess the function of both power and weakness in our understanding and practice of Christian mission.  

5. Forms of missionary engagement

Work on this theme will have to start by recognising and considering the huge variety of groups, organisations, trends, methods and new expressions of church life involved in mission today. The task will then involve seeking to discern where initiative lies in today's missionary movement. It will be forward looking in assessing patterns, initiatives and developments as they emerge and consider their implications for the future. It will treat issues of mission and evangelisation strategy, diversity and cooperation and identify problems of conflict and misuse of resources. 

6. Theological education and formation

The need is to examine the connection between the catechetical and missional mandates of the Church, consider how to strengthen the missional aspects of the training and formation of every church member, as well as the ordained and lay leaders. Included in the study will be educational methodologies, theological curricula, character development, spiritual formation and the contemporary context. People involved in this theme will further examine the relation between academy and society, clergy and laity, local and global issues, resources, relevance and gifts. 

7. Christian communities in contemporary contexts

The task is to examine the variety of Christian communities as they draw on different traditions and engage with specific contexts. It will take cognisance of such issues as urbanisation, immigrant communities, migrant workers, affluence, poverty and virtual worlds. It will note underlying forms of Christian expression including such concepts as world view, language, customs, traditions, inculturation, transformation, etc. It will examine ways in which churches can become holistic healing and reconciling communities, expressing both the welcoming and the transforming character of Christ's Gospel. It will explore what is involved in deep-level conversion.
8.    Mission and unity - ecclesiology and mission
The 1910 Edinburgh Conference is considered the starting point of the contemporary ecumenical movement, due to its insistence on the importance of unity and cooperation in worldwide mission. Today, there is a need to revisit the intimate relationship as well as underlying tensions between a focus on mission and a focus on church unity. This track will deal with various interpretations of  the link between ecclesiology and mission in theological and practical terms. Interface with the work on the history of mission and ecumenism in the last century (in particular as to the evaluation of "integration" in 1961) will be key for this area.

9.  Mission spirituality and authentic discipleship

Approaching mission spirituality will request to articulate a motivation and dynamic for mission that is rooted in God's trinitarian identity and led by the vision of God's kingdom. The study will deal with both individual and community forms of spirituality, drawing on the experience of the early church, of Christians from all ages, of new Christian movements, as well as  of the many new churches in the South. It will seek to understand mission in relation to such concepts as new creation, spiritual gifts, renewal, reconstruction, identity, holistic witness and service, but also suffering and martyrdom. It will explore the role of the Spirit and of the Church as signs and portents of the goal of all endeavour in the glory of God.  

Appendix III: Transversal themes

It was recognised that a number of "transversals" will need to be developed, i.e. important themes which will run like a thread across all "2010 mission themes". Several of these, such as Women and mission, Reconciliation and healing, or Bible and mission, may well be followed up by specially constituted groups to ensure that they take effect. This means that the distinction between the
above-mentioned "2010 mission themes" and the "tranversals" is somewhat artificial. Most mentioned themes are overlapping. For the time being the distinction is kept, but flexibility will be needed, as the processes move on. The following "transversals" have been identified:

  • Women and mission
  • Youth and mission
  • Reconciliation and healing
  • Bible and mission, mission in the Bible
  • Contextualization, inculturation (gospel and cultures) and dialogue of worldviews
  • Subaltern voices
  • Ecological perspectives

The kind of critical analysis which would be offered by each transversal is exemplified by the following proposal in regard to Women and mission:

Women and mission
Women and mission is envisaged as a specific group that will observe the process of each of the study tracks with the brief of (a) ensuring that women's perspectives and issues are properly represented (b) effecting coordination among the individual studies on these issues and (c) dealing with issues of women and mission that do not find place elsewhere.

1. See Appendix I for the list of member organisations represented at the Edinburgh General Council

2. See Appendix II & III for the Edinburgh 2010 study themes.

3. Invitations to the Edinburgh 2010 conference participants will be sent to all members of the General Council, with guidelines to ensure wide participation of young people, women, and global South participation. In our case invitation swill be sent to the Anglican Communion office.