Over 50 participants of the 11th World Council of Churches (WCC) Assembly from all over the world attended a Brunnen Workshop conducted by Council for World Mission (CWM) on 1st September at Mühlburg Room in Leonardo Hotel Karlsruhe.
Opened with the words of welcome by Rev. Julie Sim and opening prayer by CWM Moderator, Rev. Lydia Neshangwe, the workshop helped the participants to gain understanding of key elements of CWM’s mission theology and its theme of “life-flourishing communities” and generated very engaging conversations on various aspects of CWM’s mission and theology.
After Rev. Lydia Neshangwe providing an overview of CWM and its vision, mission, values and global mission context, CWM Mission Secretary Rev. Michael Jagessar presented CWM’s Theological & Missiological Framework. He explained that the “life-flourishing” is a key motif for CWM’s mission and radical discipleship, and through this, CWM challenges oppressive systems of empire. He further expounded on life-flourishing creation, church in action, education, economy, ecumenism, evangelism, societies, spiritualities, and growth and advancement. In this was also an invitation to fellow pilgrims to engage in ways that are justice supporting and peace affirming.
CWM Deputy General Secretary – Programmes, Dr Sudipta Singh, explained that CWM considers The Onesimus Project (TOP) as a missional imperative and seeks to facilitate member churches’ efforts in joining CWM in its act of repentance and reparation for the legacies of slavery; identifying modern forms of slavery and racial injustice in their specific contexts; advocacy for empowerment and liberation; and transformative ecumenism.
Having taken the initiative to engage member churches in this work, CWM recognises that the work requires wider ecumenical partnership to advocate for reparatory justice, systemic change, and justice-centred mission to the wider missiological and ecumenical community, Dr Singh added.
The presentations drew robust engagement, questions and discussion from participants. These ranged from appreciation for CWM’s commitment to inclusiveness and equality, queries on youth involvement in TOP, to helping communities begin the conversation on and come to terms with its history of perpetuating slavery, and the hierarchy of racism. It was emphasized that CWM is not prescribing what communities can or should do, and is interested to listen, work with and learn together in reparation and advocacy.
In the closing prayer, the CWM General Secretary, Rev. Dr Jooseop Keum thanked God for the opportunity to conduct this workshop and engage with the participants on the difficult contemporary issues of slavery as well as missional challenges, and for providing divine courage and empowerment of the Holy Spirit to face our history, knowing we will be liberated by the grace of Jesus Christ our Liberator.
The workshop drew positive feedback from participants such as Rev. Dr Eunha Kim of Presbyterian Church in Korea (PCK), who commended CWM for a “well-organised and well-prepared workshop” and noted CWM’s efforts to develop and forge a future different from that of its forebear London Missionary Society (LMS).