Recently, the World Council of Churches is making plans to hold the 13th World Mission and Evangelism Conference. The event will be held May of this year in Athens, Greece. Delegations representing churches from all continents and regions in the world are expected to attend the gathering. According to WCC sources, the conference planning team stated about 500 people are expected to attend the gathering.
Considerations for holding a conference there resulted from a previous invitation made by the church of Greece. The themes of this year gathering will focus on cultural identity issues in a rapidly changing world, healing and reconciling ministries in a violent world, seeking alternative communities in a globalized world, and creating a church with a mission and evangelism emphasis.
Previously, the WCC has addressed issues concerning rapidly changing cultural identity in at the Salvador Conference in Brazil 1996. This time WCC website sources say, the conference will discuss how rapidly changing cultural identities ultimately impact the youth, who are growing up in an increasingly secularized society. In addition, the conference will discuss how such factor affects current efforts to reach the youth.
As for discussions on healing ministries, the conference will delve into detail what is the basic Christian understanding of a healing ministry and what it means for a church to be a ‘healing community.’ Also, for this section of discussion, the conference participants will look into how the HIV/AIDS epidemic is having an adverse affect on the role of the church worldwide. WCC sources say that some churches have offered hope for communities deeply affected by the epidemic, while other churches find themselves to be part of the problem.
The conference will also address current communities alternative to the globalized world. On the WCC website, several alternative communities were listed including Christian-based communities, monastic communities, healing communities, indigenous people society, post-denominational ecclesial communities, and communities linked to Urban Rural Mission networks.
Lastly, the conference will cover discussions on ways for the Christian community worldwide to recover a new sense of urgency to be a “central missionary witness for reconciliation.” In addition, the conference will draft ways from which a church can redirect its purpose and direction to a more missiological point of view. Also, the conference hopes to come up with ways to reaffirm, in theory at least, the importance of evangelism as part of ‘ecumenical approach to missions.'
The first Conference of World Mission and Evangelism started in 1910 in Edinburgh, Scotland. The conference attracted over 17,000 participants including delegations from 17 developing-nations. Since then, the WCC has hosted 12 more conferences in countries such as Israel, India, Mexico, Thailand, Australia, and the United States.