Vatican delegates reflect on WCC’s new mission statement
In a consultation held in Switzerland, members of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (PCPCU) pointed out “inspirations” as well as “challenges” in the new mission statement issued by the World Council of Churches (WCC) last year.
The consultation from February 17 to 20 at the Ecumenical Institute in Bossey, Switzerland was organised by the WCC Commission on World Mission and Evangelism (CWME).
The statement, titled “Together towards life: Mission and evangelism in changing landscapes”, prepared by the CWME, seeks renewed understanding and practice of mission and evangelism amidst the changing global realities.
“This statement is a ‘vision’, an invitation to dream together, to walk ‘together towards life’ for both humanity and the whole of God’s creation,” said Fr Richard Nnyombi from the Missionaries of Africa.
He said the statement provides churches with values. However, the concrete means to achieve these values, he added, need to be worked out by local congregations.
Nnyombi called the focus of the statement on “common witness” in mission a “realistic appeal in today’s context of changing landscapes”. This focus, he said, “corresponds very well with the proposed shift to ‘mission from the margins’ and its objective of transforming unjust power structures.”
He added that the statement reminds churches that interfaith dialogue is an integral part of Christian mission. “The statement invites us to make the ‘other’ a partner and not an ‘object’ of mission,” said Nnyombi.
Sister Nzenzili Lucie Mboma, from the Service of Documentation and Study on Global Mission (SEDOS), appreciated the concept of “Holy Trinity as a source of mission” in the statement, something she said can also be found in Catholic missiological thinking.
“To safeguard human life and the life of the planet, we hope that the CWME will foresee means to deepen the themes introduced in the statement,” said Mboma.
Another challenge she pointed out in her response to the statement was the “formation of today’s evangelisers”.
“If the CWME could devise some study guidelines, it would be useful to all of us,” she added.
The Rev. Dr Jooseop Keum, the CWME secretary, stated that for a strong implementation of the statement, study and policy guidelines are being developed.
He said, “These publications will be produced in the course of this year. They will be made available to the local congregations and mission groups, national mission boards and global mission bodies, missiology students and missionary trainees.”
The presentations were followed by discussions, facilitated by Dr Annemarie C. Mayer, a Roman Catholic theologian working as a member of WCC staff.
The new mission statement draws on insights from Protestant, Evangelical, Orthodox and Roman Catholic mission theology and will be presented at the WCC’s 10th Assembly in Busan, Republic of Korea, to be held from October 30 to November 8 2013.