The paper, produced by the commission’s Working Group on Transforming Discipleship, is an affirmation of the key place that discipleship holds across all levels of ecumenical and denominational church work.
Jennifer Martin, Education in Mission secretary for the Caribbean and North America Council for Mission, United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, explained that the working group has been steadily looking at various aspects of discipleship.
Now, she said, is the time to engage others in exploring what it really means to be a disciple in the world today: “We have to use our voices and we have to use our computers,” she said.
Rev. Dr Peter Cruchley, mission secretary for mission development with the Council for World Mission, acknowledged the deep crisis the world is facing today. “It’s particularly pronounced in the context of COVID, but even without COVID we know we are facing enormous challenges.”
Cruchley, who co-moderated the webinar with Martin, voiced a key question: “Where do you see the hope for us as we develop this?”
H.E. Metropolitan Iosif de Buenos Aires, Metropolitan of Buenos Aires and Exarch of South America, Ecumenical Patriarchate, Buenos Aires, Argentina, spoke of what leads to metanoia.
“We first need to live the transforming reality of God, to have a personal spiritual transformation, in order to proclaim transforming discipleship to the world, that leads to metanoia,” he said.
Necta Montes, general secretary of World Student Christian Federation, and a member of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, reflected that the paper resonates with the life and work of the World Student Christian Federation.
“The World Student Christian Federation, like the churches, is haunted by our colonization,” she said. "Radical and progressive ideas coming from the youth and the students directly confronted the colonialist agenda.”
Dr Mutale Kaunda, from the Pentecostal Assemblies of God Church in Zambia, independent researcher and coordinator of Expat Professional and Business Women International in South Korea, emphasized the need to delve into the meaning of discipleship on its deepest level. She called into question how, in the very formation of disciples, the voices of minorities often go unheard.
“The drivers of discipleship are professors in Bible schools and pastors in parishes,” she said. “There is more that needs to be done.”
Archbishop Mark MacDonald, WCC president, national indigenous bishop, Anglican Church of Canada, offered his feelings and impressions upon listening to the group.
“I will say, in a way—all hands on deck! We are facing a massive and urgent crisis from every aspect of human life. We are waking up to the threat to creation, to the threat of human life, and it is waking up in a kind of stupor, perhaps even a hangover of complicity with colonialism,” he reflected.