The Conference on World Mission and Evangelism (CWME) - held in Arusha, Tanzania 8-13 March - officially closed with a “sending service” during which participants reflected on their call to discipleship and the significance of such a call in transforming mission in a world of pain, dislocation and turmoil.
In a closing sermon, Rev. Dr Collin Cowan of the Council for World Mission said, if discipleship is context-laden, then we are always being called to a life of contrast, from one pattern of living to another, always going against the grain as a deliberate choice.
“Jesus pushed boundaries, confronted power, challenged systems of corruption and taught his disciples to go against the grain of cultural norms and practices,” he said. “Jesus was consistently challenging the disciples to appreciate that if they would be impactful and fruitful in a chaotic world, blemished by conflict, controversies and contempt, they needed to open up themselves to change their way of thinking and behaving in every situation.”
The theme of the CWME was “Moving in the Spirit: Called to Transforming Discipleship.” A tradition of the International Mission Council and the World Council of Churches Commission on World Mission and Evangelism, mission conferences are held roughly every decade.
During the sending service, Cowan urged conference participants to embark on a lifelong journey of unlearning and relearning. “As we walk with Jesus and his first disciples we will see that there is much to learn about discipleship with Jesus; it is indeed a journey of partnership with lots of tripping up but never giving up, always trusting the teacher to shed more light and truth,” he said. “Integral to the call to discipleship is the mandate to join Jesus on an extraordinary mission to transform chaos into harmony and to work in partnership with others to preserve the meaning and dignity of all of humanity and God’s creation.”
The ecumenical conference was attended by more than 1,000 representatives from Protestant, Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Evangelical, Pentecostal, and African-instituted churches. From “warshas,” or workshops, to the “sokoni,” or marketplace, the event was wrapped in the spirit of African rhythms, music, and art.
“Arusha Call to Discipleship” issued (WCC press release of 13 March 2018)