Evangelism added to WCC mission statement for the first time

(Photo: WCC / Mark Beach)Dr Kirsteen Kim, vice-moderator of the World Council of Churches' Commission on World Mission and Evangelism, addressing the WCC's main governing body its central committee.The statement titled "Together towards life: Mission and Evangelism in changing landscapes" was prepared by the commission and was presented to the WCC's central committee on August 30, 2012.

BUSAN, South Korea - An evangelist "Goods new for all" declaration is a central theme of a new mission statement presented by a World Council of Churches committee.

The WCC on Tuesday released a revised statement on mission during its 10th Assembly that is running from October 30 to November 8 in Busan, South Korea.

During a press conference a panel explained that the mission statement expresses an evangelistic statement (or "Good news for all"), entitled "Spirit of Pentecost", for the first time in the history of the world churches' body.

"Evangelism is mission activity which makes explicit...the saving grace of God. It seeks to share this good news with all who have not yet heard it and invites them to an experience of life in Christ," explains a draft set out to describe in detail the mission statement.

The Holy Spirit also takes center stage in this mission statement, as opposed to the Kingdom of God language used in the previous statement.

The Commission for World Mission and Evangelism, responsible for the new mission statement, elaborates on the language shift: "Life in the Holy Spirit is the essence of mission, the core of why we do what we do, and how we live our lives."

Leeds Trinity University theology professor, Kirsteen Kim, acknowledged the changed global landscape since the previous mission statement was written in the 1980s.

The previous statement was written before the end of the Cold War, before the invention of the Internet and before 9/11 attacks on September 11, 2001 on the U.S. World Trade Center and on Washington DC.

Controversially, the panel expressed that this new statement recognizes all wisdoms that affirm the value of life come from the Holy Spirit.

The committee appreciates the shift in Christian power to the global South as opposed to the developed Western world. The new mission statement reflects this appreciation in its new language of "mission from margins."

"The oppressed with take on the agency of mission," Bishop Geevarghese Mor Coorilos, from the Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East in India and moderator of the Commission on World Mission and Evangelism, explains.

"For us in Europe it involves becoming the recipients of mission from the margins and recognizing that we don't have all the answers and we no longer occupy the center and learning together with people whom we have marginalized in previous centuries, both learning together in practical action in mission and learning theologically as well," added Kim, who specializes in evangelical theology and world Christianity at her university.

She is co-moderator for the Commission for World Mission and Evangelism at the WCC.

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