Edinburgh 2010: Continuing before beginning

The legacy of Edinburgh 1910 was, among other things, the establishment of a continuation committee. Out of its activity sprang, as just one example, the International Review of Mission, still widely read and consulted today by students of mission. Informal conversations with delegates here have already raised the question of ‘What next?’ It might seem a bit premature to be thinking about this even before registrations for the 2010 conference have opened, but it seems that the mood may well turn towards the best way of dealing with the differences that still exist among delegates and the Christian traditions they represent.

I suspect that Edinburgh 2010 will be far from the mythical ‘cosy ecumenism’ that critics like to believe exists. I hope we will allow our differences to show, will acknowledge them with honesty, and pray for a future together that will not allow simplistic harmonising ‘Statements’ to obscure the important and necessary work of  developing ways of living and witnessing together that are faithful to Christ and his church.

Within Europe it is possible to point to many ways in which joint witness has enriched the witnesses and equally many areas in which co-operation in mission has struggled to produce any meaningful fruit. Speakers and delegates here in Edinburgh are likely to reflect together on what we can learn from both success and failure. If Europeans are to be more effectively ‘introduced to Christ’ in a non-partisan or non-nationalistic fashion,  ‘introduced to our Christ’, then churches are going to have to begin the painful task of finding ways of co-operating in mission.

What has to live beyond June 6th 2010? In reality I’m not sure, but the mission legacy of Edinburgh 1910 deserves more respect than the prospect of multiple celebrations, even more than the current two or three main alternatives, in the year 2110. Many delegates here in Edinburgh will be making the journey to Cape Town later in the year for the Lausanne meetings. At the very least it ought to be possible for national European reviews following both events to be joint reviews, drawing on delegates who have attended both events. That may not quite be a strategy for a continuation committee, but it would be a good way to start.

Explore posts in the same categories: Edinburgh 2010, europe, Lausanne, mission

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