The launch of a comprehensive textbook on mission marks an important moment in the life of the Commission for World Mission and Evangelism of the World Council of Churches.
The book, designed for use in theological seminaries, is the first to offer a comprehensive overview of church mission work since the World Missionary Conference held in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1910.
“The book is a significant contribution to studies of contemporary missiology,” says Dr Kenneth Ross of the Church of Scotland, who served as one of the editors.
Ross made his remarks at the book launch held on Friday during meetings of the WCC Central Committee in Trondheim, Norway. Ross, who has served as a missionary in Malawi, is currently an Honorary Fellow at the University of Edinburgh.
Ecumenical Missiology: Changing Landscapes and New Conceptions of Mission, co-published by WCC and Regnum Publishers, marks the final volume in Regnum’s 35-book series on mission and is intended as a tool for teaching missiology.
The 575-page volume begins with a history of mission in the ecumenical movement over the past 100 years and an exploration of key concepts in contemporary missiology. It concludes with a section focused on the new ecumenical mission statement Together towards Life.
CWME Director Rev. Dr Jooseop Keum, presented a copy of the text to WCC Central Committee member Yang-en Cheng, professor of Church History at Taiwan Theological College and Seminary. Keum explained that this was a symbolic act to emphasize that the book is for use in classes in ecumenical mission formation.
Kyriaki Avtzi, responsible for the WCC programme on evangelism, edited chapters on “hot” issues such as proselytism, evangelism in multi-faith contexts and the intersection between gospel and culture.
“The question before us on these issues is how to highlight the good news of the Gospel for today? What does this imply?” Avtzi said.
The Orthodox lay theologian adds that discipleship is emerging as an important lens for conceiving evangelism in contemporary missiology.
“We still are unpacking what discipleship means in evangelism where lay people are often dominant,” she notes.
Keum, who is one of the mission textbook’s editors, told the capacity crowd gathered for the launch that a consultation at Cuba’s Matanzas Theological Seminary in September will prepare a syllabus and course outlines to accompany the textbook. The Korean theologian also noted that work is underway to prepare a handbook on Together towards Life for use in congregations.
The textbook on mission is expected serve as reference material for the next world mission conference that is to be held in March 2018 in Arusha, Tanzania. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania will host the conference.
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