With the steering committee of the study process meeting in Geneva, representatives from all world regions joined online.
The International Missionary Council was founded in October 1921 at Lake Mohonk, USA, to foster missionary cooperation and mission in unity. The WCC Commission on World Mission and Evangelism is the historical successor of the International Missionary Council.
The WCC celebrated this legacy and heritage of 100 years with the three-day conference.
A global International Missionary Council study process started in January 2021 and will run to June 2022, with some 15 study centers and their networks in all eight WCC regions of the world.
The outcome of the study process will be published and released as part of the WCC 11th Assembly in Karlsruhe, Germany in September 2022.
Prof. Kenneth Ross, University of Edinburgh, a member of the steering committee, said that the International Missionary Council centenary conference was a triumph of both technology and theology. “Bringing together 15 study centers spread across all eight WCC regions in a virtual space, it has offered a profound examination of the meaning of ecumenical mission across the past century,” he said. “Now the study process turns to the future and we can expect to hear much more about polyphonic Christianity, relationships, humility, identity, discipleship, spirituality, cultural integrity, cooperation, margins, justice, reconciliation, hospitality…and the grace of God.”
Another steering committee member, Dr Marina Ngursangzeli Behera, Oxford Centre for Mission Studies, said she was impressed by the richness of the contributions from the study centers. “We made it a point to start our journey around the globe so that we could bring the stories from the margins such as the Maoris in New Zealand, the Mizo and other tribal Christian communities in Northeast India, or the overlooked or neglected Latin America contexts,” she said. “These presentations place in proper perspective the vision and subsequent accomplishments and contributions of the founding members of the International Missionary Council which we have also been reminded of during the conference."
Rev. Dr Risto Jukko, director, WCC Commission on World Mission and Evangelism, said that the International Missionary Council Centenary Conference was a milestone in the history of the ecumenical mission movement. “It has become clear that the importance of the founding meeting of the International Missionary Council in Lake Mohonk in 1921 must not be underestimated,” he said. “Even if the International Missionary Council was at the beginning a mainly Western attempt, it was successful in bringing together various Christian churches, councils and mission bodies from all over the world.”
The 18-month-long International Missionary Council study process now, 100 years later, is witnessing to global Christianity, born out of mission, added Jukko, who is chairing the steering committee. “The study process that continues attempts to look at the fundamental role of the International Missionary Council and its historical successor since the 1961 WCC assembly, the WCC Commission on World Mission and Evangelism, in various contexts around the world,” he said. “The study process hopes to be able to channel some of the main insights about world mission and evangelism to the next WCC assembly in Germany in 2022.”