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Conference on World Mission and Evangelism a “meeting point" between different faiths

Conference on World Mission and Evangelism a “meeting point" between different faiths

Dr Agnes Abuom. Photo: Peter Williams/WCC

02 February 2018

Dr Agnes Abuom, from the Anglican Church of Kenya, is the moderator of the World Council of Churches (WCC) Central Committee. She is also author of the foreword for the WCC Conference on World Mission and Evangelism (CWME) Resource Book. Below, Dr Abuom is featured in an interview that touches upon the historical significance and theme of the CWME, which will occur in Arusha, Tanzania on 8-13 March.

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about the history of the CWME?

Dr Abuom: Did you know that religious demographic research reveals that Africa and the rest of the global South represent the epicentre of Christianity? Africa first hosted the Conference on World Mission and Evangelism 60 years ago at Achimota, Ghana, in 1958. Ghana gained independence a year before the conference. Most African states then were negotiating their independence from colonial rule. Thus, as the African church was being weaned by the missions and missionary enterprises, the continent was experiencing a glimpse of hope amidst wounds, divisions, dislocation of communities, and unjust socio-economic and political structures.

Q: Why do you believe that the 2018 CWME is so historically significant?

Dr Abuom: The venue provides space to engage with the current realities of African stories of pain, anger, and celebration, including the challenges of ecumenical mission today. Previous conferences have addressed pertinent issues of the time, ranging from race relations, peace, and partnership to healing and reconciliation. Africa must once again revisit the drawing board of the faith in Christ and ask whether the type of discipleship expressed is empowering, transforming lives of people across the globe, or whether it continues to subjugate some.

Q: Why hold the conference in Africa?

Dr Abuom: The location is a reminder of the meeting point between the different faiths on the African continent: Christianity, Islam, and African traditional religions. It is a location that brings to life the spirit of resistance and the story of a vision for an alternative world, characterized by economic and political systems that are earth- and human-friendly, embellished by life-giving values and spiritualities. In addition to leadership, Africa’s unique contributions remain to share the experiences and stories of “ubuntu” or “utu” that affirm the image of God in every person, irrespective of gender, class, and race; as well as to share and invite others to the culture of humane hospitality.

Q: What do you see as our challenges?

Dr Abuom: When we affirm that we as agents are called by Christ in the midst of high and low profile conflicts; human trafficking and forced migration; racism and xenophobia including abject poverty, then we are challenged to re-imagine and re-conceptualize the nature of the call and notion of discipleship in order to change the narrative for a better Africa, one that is anchored in peace, tranquility, dignity and equity.

Q: Can you reflect a bit on the theme of the Arusha conference, “Moving in the Spirit: Called to Transforming Discipleship?

Dr Abuom: This theme captures the continuing aspiration of many for authentic freedom and liberation in Africa and the world at large. Transforming discipleship is pivotal in reviving the concept and practice of being servants who propagate the good news of life-nurturing, life-enhancing, and life-sustaining processes, systems, and structures. Transforming discipleship in the 21st century is therefore about being invited to tell your story and invite others to listen, hear, and mutually act on their stories of spirituality, their stories of struggle for justice and human dignity.

Learn more about the Conference on World Mission and Evangelism