FOR the first time in 50 years since the event was last held in Africa, the World Council of Churches convenes another major conference in Arusha within the next two months.
An official statement from the Commission on World Mission and Evangelism (CWME), the Conference organisers, the conference will be convened under the theme, ‘Moving in the Spirit: Called to Transforming Discipleship.”
At least 1000 delegates from churches worldwide are expected to gather for international religious event hosted by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania (ELCT) next March. Top of the agenda will feature deliberations on how religious missions could work in a ‘troubled world’ devilled with ethnic, political and religious conflicts.
To be held in Arusha from March 8th to 13th March, 2018, the conference is going to be the first WCC event to be held in Africa since 1958, when Kwammeh Nkrumah’s Ghana played host.
According to the CWME, the African continent is one of the most vibrant regions of world Christianity and was, therefore, imperative that the spirit of Africa “should pervade the conference from planning through to delivery.”
Significantly, a good numbers of speakers and participants would be drawn from the African region. Dr Jooseup Keum, the CWME director, adds that holding the conference in Africa would also allow participants to learn about African ecumenical mission initiatives.
The first world mission conference was held in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1910. A series of conferences has followed at approximately 10-year intervals. But organisers believe that much has changed in Christian mission work during that 106-year period.
From the early approach to mission that focused on conversion to Christianity, church practice has evolved to focus on work with people living in conflict zones, in regions affected by climate change, and in situations where economic survival is threatened.
“When we see the rise in intolerance and violence in so many parts of the world, it feels as if the world is regressing,” reads part of the WCC statement. “WCC’s mission statement ‘Together towards Life,’ encourages churches to work together to protect life in the face of death and destruction. We want to affirm the dignity of life when peoples’ rights are threatened.”