Metropolitan Dr Geevarghese Coorilos, the moderator of the WCC Commission on World Mission and Evangelism. Photo: Albin Hillert/WCC

Metropolitan Dr Geevarghese Coorilos, the moderator of the WCC Commission on World Mission and Evangelism. Photo: Albin Hillert/WCC

In reports at the Conference on World Mission and Evangelism - being held in Arusha, Tanzania from 8-13 March - representatives from the World Council of Churches (WCC) offered their insights on the historic occasion and reflected on how mission is changing in today’s societies.

The moderator of the WCC Commission on World Mission and Evangelism (CWME), Metropolitan Dr Mor Geevarghese Coorilos, spoke on mission as “turning the world upside down.”

The early disciples of Christ were branded as subversives that turned the world upside down, he noted. “Discipleship, for the early disciples of Christ then, meant confronting the hegemonic empires and announcing the arrival of a new dispensation, the reign of Christ.”

Today, he said, discipleship is about challenging idolatries which try to replace God’s sovereignty with human power and money. “The ecumenical movement as a mission movement should resist empires of our times,” he said. “However, many a time during the past two decades of my engagement, I felt that some of our ecumenical institutions themselves are not free from the value orientations of the modern-day empires.”

Mission as turning the world upside down is also about reversing existing mission paradigms, he continued. “The purpose of mission here is not simply to move people from the margins to the centre but also to challenge those systems and people who tend to remain at the centre by keeping people on the margins,” he said. “This has implications for our churches, mission bodies and ecumenical institutions too.”

Rev. Dr Jooseop Keum, director of the Commission on World Mission and Evangelism offered highlights of CWME work over the past decade. He also noted we are facing a sharp challenge to define the vision and relevance of the ecumenical movement within the changing ecclesial and global landscapes of today. “First, mission can play a prophetic role in bringing together unity and justice discourses in the ecumenical movement,” he said. “Mission provides a holistic approach that helps to affirm the integrity of the ecumenical movement because of the way in which it connects people and contexts.”

Second, he reflected, mission can play a creative role in the midst of the dilemma between movement and institution by bringing new visions of movement. “However, over time the institution can lose the vision for the movement and fall into the temptation to only serve its self-interest,” he said. “In such a situation mission can provide the bridge between movements and institutions through missiological imagination and action.”

Finally, he concluded, mission has a distinctive role between the church and development agencies within the WCC. “Our forebears had an ambitious plan to challenge and transform churches to become missionary congregations, recognising the role of the church as the primary agent of mission,” he said. “In spite of this ambitious project we must ask, ‘Where is the location of mission in the WCC today?’ ”

Both Coorilos and Keum also offered further reflections on the theme of the conference, “Moving in the Spirit: Called to Transforming Discipleship.”

CWME Moderator's Address, Metropolitan Geevarghese Coorilos

Report of the CWME Director Jooseop Keum: From Athens to Arusha

Download free photos from the CWME and accompanying events (password: WCC)

Learn more about the Conference on World Mission and Evangelism