Written by Daniel Hazard
A call for Christian mission work to promote "non-aggressive" evangelism, and for traditional denominations to find new ways of working with Pentecostal and charismatic movements has been made by the World Council of Churches general secretary, the Rev. Samuel Kobia.
"It is of particular urgency that mission be understood and practised in a way which does not lead to an increase of hatred and violence," Kobia said, speaking in Edinburgh on April 27 during a 12-day visit to Britain and Ireland. "That's one of the reasons we are involved with the Roman Catholic, Evangelical and Pentecostal churches in searching for a code of conduct on conversion."
Kobia said there needed to be "a better theory and practice of non-aggressive or non-violent form of evangelism or proclamation."
He made his remarks in a speech to a planning conference for the 2010 centennial celebration of the 1910 World Mission Conference in Edinburgh, widely considered as the symbolic starting point of the contemporary ecumenical movement seeking to unify global Christianity.
In a wide ranging review of the movement's failures and successes over the past century Kobia noted that while the number of Christians still stood at roughly one third of the global population, the Christian landscape had changed profoundly. He cited the growth of the neo-charismatic churches in the last 30 years and the way in which the strongholds of Christian spirituality had moved towards the South and East of the globe. Still he said, formal power centres seemed set to remain for a certain time in the North.
"Some of the most dynamic mission movements are to be found among Christian traditions not represented in any of the formal fora that exist," he noted. "We must imagine new forms of meetings and dialogues, to give visibility and credit to the spiritual revolution brought about by the Pentecostal and charismatic movements and churches." Kobia said this was the precondition for starting a fruitful theological dialogue on priorities in mission.
The Geneva-based WCC has 347 member churches, including the United Church of Christ.