From the Worldwide Faith News archives

WCC Central Committee Members Agree Mission Is Central

Date 04 May 1996 20:38:52


95333 WCC Central Committee Members Agree Mission Is Central 
                    to the Life of the Church 
                      by Jerry L. Van Marter 
GENEVA--"The jamming noise of violent governments and contentious churches 
demands constant messages from World Council of Churches (WCC) member 
churches to foster renewal of mission in word and deed." 
     Those words, by Anna Marie Aagaard of the Evangelical Lutheran Church 
in Denmark, were echoed by countless speakers Sept. 15 as the WCC Central 
Committee turned its attention to mission and evangelism.  The WCC is 
developing a new statement on mission and evangelism that will be presented 
and discussed at a world conference on the subject next year.  The 
statement will be voted on by delegates to the WCC's Eighth Assembly in 
Harare, Zimbabwe, in 1998. 
     "Mission is not an option," Aagaard said.  "We must witness truthfully 
and relevantly to the presence of Jesus Christ in the world."  And such 
witness must possess clarity, she added.  "The way we live and proclaim the 
faith becomes the story that is told, so we must become the embodiment of 
counterviolence and counterconflict.  We cannot be hazy and unclear about 
God's grace and the demands of discipleship." 
     The Rev. Hector Mendez of the Presbyterian Reformed Church in Cuba 
responded that hope is a key element in the church's mission.  "Many people 
in my country are coming back to the ways of God," he said.  "Our mission 
involves hope: to interlink Christian faith with hope so the people may 
restore their lives." 
     The Rev. George Tsetsis, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople 
(Turkey), said Western Christians must pay closer attention to their own 
spiritual well-being.  "Western churches must renew the proclamation of the 
gospel where they are, for the gospel is being abandoned too often by 
     The Rev. Aaron Tolen of the Presbyterian Church of Cameroon, charging 
that some in his country who call themselves Christian practice brutality 
and torture, said mission planners need to ask, "What does it mean to be 
Christian today?  Why are we Christians?  What difference does being a 
Christian mean in real life?" 
     The Rev. Drexel Gomez from the Bahamas agreed that mission and 
evangelism efforts must match word with deed.  "There is a gap between 
proclamation and practice," he said.  "We are bilingual -- speaking a 
different language on Sunday than the rest of the week." 

For more information contact Presbyterian News Service
  Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Louisville, KY 40202
  phone 502-569-5504            fax 502-569-8073  
  E-mail   Web page: 


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