From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
PRESBYTERIANS JOIN GLOBAL CONSULTATION ON
05 May 1996 15:18:58
95208 PRESBYTERIANS JOIN GLOBAL CONSULTATION ON
By Julian Shipp
LOUISVILLE, Ky.--Powered by a vision of the gospel of Jesus Christ reaching
all people by the year 2000, delegates to the Global Consultation on World
Evangelism (GCOWE) gathered in Seoul, Korea, May 17-26 to develop
strategies toward that goal.
Among the more than 30 Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) participants who
attended the consultation both officially and unofficially were the Rev.
Jeff Ritchie, associate for international evangelism in the Worldwide
Ministries Division (WMD); the Rev. Walter J. Ungerer, member of the
General Assembly Council; and the Rev. Harold Kurtz, executive director of
Presbyterian Frontier Fellowship.
"The purpose for the conference was to get as many Christians who are
actively involved in this evangelization momentum in one place to celebrate
what has been done [in the past] and to plan for what still needs to be
done," Ritchie said. "It was a mid-decade assessment and recommitment to
the cause of [evangelism]."
Ritchie said the conference attracted more than 4,000 people,
two-thirds of whom were from countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America,
nations that contributed the majority of the consultation's funding.
According to plenary session officials, there were more countries
represented at the conference than at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul.
"I believe I attended one of the largest gatherings of sales personnel
in the world," Ungerer said. "I do not mean this facetiously. Participants
from more than 187 countries were filled with enthusiasm in the truest
sense ... of that word. They were sold on Jesus Christ and their commitment
to share the gospel with every known tongue and people's group by the year
2000 was overwhelming. They put my commitment to shame."
Luis Bush of Argentina, international director of the AD2000 & Beyond
Movement that organized GCOWE '95, said there were probably delegates from
more countries of the world at the consultation than at any other event in
Guided by the group's statement of purpose, Bush said, participants
sought to encourage, motivate and network men and women church leaders by
inspiring them with the vision of reaching the unreached by the year 2000
through consultations, prayer efforts and communication materials.
"The expected result is the establishment of a mission-minded church
planting movement within every significantly large ethnolinguistic people
by AD 2000," Bush said. "So that every person might have a valid
opportunity to experience the love, truth and saving power of Jesus Christ
in fellowship with other believers."
Through the power of prayer, Ritchie and Ungerer said, meetings at
each level took a dramatic turn from their intended agendas as participants
spontaneously sought to reconcile past divisions. Japanese knelt before
Koreans, Arab Christians embraced Jewish Christians and Russian Orthodox
Christians apologized to evangelicals and pentecostals of the former Soviet
Ritchie said he will never forget the moment he witnessed the gospel
penetrate a gathering of Christians representing unevangelized areas of the
"I attended a meeting of Christians who were representing countries
that were primarily Muslim from the Central, Middle East and Asian part of
the world [and] who hadn't had much of a Christian witness five years
before [this conference]," Ritchie said. "It was a foretaste of the
scriptural allusion to the fact that all of the tribes will stand before
the throne of grace and God. It was a little bit of heaven right here on
Additionally, Ungerer said he was astounded by the role of women at
this conference, primarily because they represented more than 28 percent of
the delegation and were from Third World countries.
"The women were articulate, committed and in a very loving way told
the men there, We want to be partners with you in ministry,'" Ungerer
said. "These women were first and foremost concerned with bearing witness
to who they were as Christian women in their cultures through Jesus Christ,
and their justice issues took second place."
At the end of the meeting, delegates adopted the GCOWE '95
Declaration, which declares a primary, but not exclusive, focus on the
"10/40 Window," an imaginary rectangle stretching from 10 to 40 degrees
north of the equator from West Africa to East Asia, where the greatest
concentration of unevangelized people reside. That event, called "Pray
Through the Window II," will be held in October.
Ritchie said WMD will submit two items for action stemming from the
conference to the General Assembly Council meeting in July. The proposals
affirm the denomination's commitment to worldwide evangelism and encourage
Presbyterians to participate in October's prayer event.
"I hope we have opportunity to speak to the General Assembly Council,"
Ungerer said. "And I hope we have an opportunity to speak at the General
"There's a momentum going forward that will not be stopped because God
is in it," Ritchie said. "God is completing the task of world
evangelization through the various people of the world, through suffering,
in spite of suffering, through technology and sometimes in spite of
GCOWE '95 marked a radical shift from the days of
American/European-only missions, according to Bush. He said the
consultation became a "rite of passage," since Western missionaries took
notes as African, Asian and Latin American leaders presented their
successful methodology, confirming that they had become full partners in
the task of world evangelism.
As proof of its commitment to this task, the AD2000 & Beyond Movement
intends to dissolve on Dec. 31, 2001. With its international headquarters
in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the movement includes regional affiliates
throughout the world and includes denominations, mission societies and
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 PCUSA.NEWS@pcusa.org Web page: http://www.pcusa.org
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