WCC Delegates Visit Cape Town 2010

From left to right, front row: Rev. Dr S. Douglas Birdsall, Dr Kirsteen Kim (CWME vice-moderator), Rev. Dr Jooseop Keum (CWME secretary); back row: Ruth Foley (Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance), Fofo Lerefolo, Kyriaki Avtzi (Conference of European Churches), John Baxter-Brown, Bishop Ivan Manuel Abrahams (presiding bishop of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa and WCC Executive Committee member), Fr Prof. Ioan Sauca (director of the WCC's Ecumenical Institute in Bossey). (Photo: Albert Yau/Lausanne Movement)

A nine-member delegation from the World Council of Churches (WCC) is among those participating in the Lausanne Movement's third conference on world evangelization being held in Cape Town South Africa.

The group, most of them a part of the WCC's Commission of World Mission and Evangelism (CWME), are joining over 4,000 participants at the nine-day conference which is centered around the theme of reconciliation.

The Rev. Dr. S. Dougllas Birdsall, executive chairman of the Lausanne Movement, referred to reconciliation as "our focus, our calling and our passion."

"It is this reconciling gospel that brings us together," Birdsall said during the event's opening.

In an interview with WCC media, moderator of the CWME Metropolitan Geevarghese Mor Coorilos said that in a historical context that requires greater unity among Christians, the participation of the WCC in this event will go a long way toward bridging the gap between evangelicals and the ecumenical movement, "a distinction that we need to overcome".

"It is particularly reassuring to listen to the voices for justice and reconciliation," Mor Coorilos said, adding that he prays that the spirit of unity in the congress, which was also demonstrated at the centennial celebration of the 1910 World Mission Conference earlier this year in Edinburgh, could be sustained for a long time.

The Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the WCC, told the Ecumenical Press earlier in the week that he believes evangelicals and ecumenicals have come closer since the last Lausanne conference in 1989 in Manila and that the evangelical community has expressed more support for traditionally ecumenical concerns such as creation care and working for justice, peace, and human rights.

"It's a shared commitment much more than before, and I've seen strong expressions of that," Tveit said.

Lausanne Movement International Director Lindsay Brown said following a seminar on the arts that the goal of the Cape Town conference is to "challenge the global church afresh to communicate the good news of Jesus Christ and all His teaching, both in every area of the world geographically, and in every sphere of society, including the world of ideas."

"Our problem is that most Christians are too narrow in their focus- we have a strong theology of redemption but a weak theology of creation," Brown added. "When we talk about creation, often we talk about evolution and creation. But the biblical doctrine of creation, and the God of all of creation, the lordship of Christ over every area of life, is something that needs to be expanded."

The Cape Town 2010 conference has been hailed as one of the "most diverse gathering(s) ever" by its organizers and has delegates from nearly 200 countries participating. The event is the third hosted by the Lausanne Movement which held its initial gathering of 2,300 Christians in Switzerland in 1974.

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