Pillay, speaking on 24 March, expressed deep appreciation for the book’s contributors. “We are born of the desire to offer a common and redemptive witness to a world wounded by war and colonialism,” he said. “The WCC has lived out this calling during unfolding crises rooted in the injustices, inequalities, and idolatries that war and colonialism have spawned and cultivated amongst us.”
This text invites us to celebrate a spirit of unity, Pillay said. “I am grateful for the book and the communities behind it,” he said. “I challenge us all in the ecumenical movement to go much further in the direction they are pointing.”
Rev. Dr Peter Cruchley, director of the WCC Commission on World Mission and Evangelism, moderated a panel discussion, and also thanked the contributors. “I’m grateful for you naming what is the lived experience of so many—that Europe has not given up its colonialist ways,” he said. “I welcome that and greet that and it’s important for us.”
The discussion served as a reminder that empire was never accepted, Cruchley reflected. “Many of you are the signs and fruits of that,” he said.
Rev. Dr Risto Jukko, director of the Office for Global Mission, Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, who edited the text, offered a presentation of the book’s methodologies and the areas it covers. The first part, he explained, answers two questions through nine regional reports. “What is the understanding of Christians in the Global South mission in today’s world in crisis, and what will it be in the years to come? What hope can the good news of Jesus Christ give to those who are most vulnerable and often wounded through conditions that threaten their existence?”
The second part, Jukko, explained, contains five studies of transnational mission networks.
Dr Marina Ngursangzeli Behera, Oxford Centre for Mission Studies, reiterated that colonialism and racism are still present. “There are legislation, rules, regulations—but they don’t really protect the vulnerable and those who are discriminated,” she said. “It’s sill, in a way, ‘othering” their voices.”
Rev Dr Winelle Kirton-Roberts, church historian, pastor of the Moravian Church, offered a perspective as a reader and a pastor. “i highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the future of Christian mission,” she said. “I generally agree that there is that question of re-colonization reasserting itself.”
But, she added, she also sees some positive advancement toward reconciliation. “Some communities are now doing research on past histories—but there is still a long way to go, and unfortunately the discussions and conversations are coming more from outside.”
Rev. Dr Michael Biehl, from the Association of Protestant Churches and Missions in Germany (EMW), thanked those who attended the book launch and said he hoped the publication would spark future collaboration and reflection. “I think that sometimes we are too strongly into the European churches,” he said. “I would say that I’m so thankful for the study process.”
Ken Ross, missiologist, Church of Scotland, expressed deep concern about colonization not decreasing but actually increasing in the world today, adding that there is “an integration between what’s happening in society and what’s happening in the church.
“Perhaps what eventually found expression in the book might be a model for going forward ecumenically with an agenda for de-colonization.”
Rev. Dr Kuzipa Nalwamba WCC director of Mission, Unity and Ecumenical Formation, thanked the contributors and panelists for taking time to offer critiques and pose questions for going forward. “The last chapter asks the question: what will the next global debate on mission be? In the presentations we have heard, where it will be located? What will be its content?”
In the years to come, concluded Nalwamba, theological education will connect with and attempt answer these very complex questions.