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Where and when the Holy Spirit comes

10 May 2005

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About 700 representatives from churches and mission bodies from all over the world were advised to recognize that the presence of the Holy Spirit is not to be claimed by themselves, but acknowledged by their neighbours.

The 9-16 May Conference on World Mission and Evangelism (CWME) opened this morning in Athens with two thematic presentations on the general theme "Come Holy Spirit, Heal and Reconcile".

The two complementary presentations were linked to the speakers' own traditions - more theological for the Presbyterian lecturer, Dr Kirsteen Kim from the UK, more narrative for the Pentecostal missionary, Dr Wonsuk Ma from South Korea. While Kim focused on the question of discernment of the Holy Spirit's presence and action, Ma mainly presented Pentecostal experiences through the history of the past 100 years.

Both Pentecostals and "historic" churches have much to learn from each other about their different views and traditions on this theme, Ma said. "As a 'new kid on the block,' Pentecostals have much to learn from the historic churches with their rich histories and traditions. At the same time, the rise of a new movement, particularly of the renewal type such as this, itself serves as God's reminder to his people of his missionary mandate to the world."

Recalling theological educator Stanley Samartha's words, Kim reminded participants that "the claim that the Spirit is with us is not ours to make; it is for our neighbours to recognize". This discernment is "a matter for ecumenical debate" she said, and "it requires wide horizons and humility".

Delegates to the World Council of Churches CWME conference from Orthodox, Protestant, Anglican, Roman Catholic, Evangelical and Pentecostal churches or mission bodies are called to this humility, so as to recognize the presence and action of the Holy Spirit in all of them.

The full text of both presentations is available on the conference website at: Speeches