As the Finnish Mission Council celebrated its centenary on 12 October in Tampere, Finland, the Lutheran Archbishop of Finland, Dr Tapio Luoma, celebrated the witness in mission of the earlier missionaries and generations. Luoma also urged every generation to find answers to the question of how to live fully as a disciple of Jesus and fulfil his commission.
“In mission, we find ourselves as giving and receiving; as teachers we find ourselves as pupils,” said Luoma. “The message is and will be the same: the answer to people is only the risen Christ. Faith is always the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
As a sign of showing their commitment to the Great Commission, hundreds of young people took off their shoes in a reflection of Isaiah 52.
The Finnish Mission Council was founded in 1919 and today has 30 member organisations from many churches. Recently, the Finnish Mission Council decided to reapply for affiliated member status of the World Council of Churches (WCC) Commission on World Mission and Evangelism.
In conjunction with the celebrations, the Finnish Mission Council organised a three-day conference on Common Mission with several talks and workshops on the challenges for mission at home and abroad. The conference was organised by the Finnish Mission Council and supported by the Finnish Ecumenical Council, Finnish Evangelical Alliance and the Free Churches’ Council.
Dr Rosalee Velloso Ewell, representing the World Evangelical Alliance and United Bible Societies, spoke on power, prejudice and partnership and the unexpected growth of the churches outside of the western world. “Unity for the sake of unity is meaningless,” she said. “The Bible shows that it is our witness and our calling.”
The director of the Finnish Lutheran Church Office for Global Mission, Rev. Dr Jaakko Rusama asked if Christians truly had one message when the Christian world is divided into more than 40,000 different churches and Christian communities. “Is Christ visibly divided though He is one?” asked Rusama.
The director of the WCC Commission on World Mission and Evangelism, Rev. Dr Risto Jukko, spoke on the contribution of Finnish mission to global mission. He reflected that Finnish mission has not suffered from colonialism as the country has not had colonies in different parts of the world. “Right from the beginning women were well represented among the first missionaries,” said Jukko. “Missionaries also had many different professions: doctors, nurses and teachers, not only pastors.”
Workshop topics included digital media, ecumenism in mission, the impact of mission, emerging churches, global mega trends, new generations, unreached and persecuted people, inter-religious dialogue, work with Muslims, evangelism and discipleship, and Kairos training for mission.