2010 Magazine

A picture of the 2010 Magazine Cover


by Rev Peter Sulston, conference organiser.

Our theme this weekend is See What the Lord is Doing. We shall reflect on the changing story of mission in the hundred years since the Edinburgh Missionary Conference of 1910. That mission is not primarily the mission of the churches, or even the Christian mission, but God’s mission and so we will not only look back, we will not only think about that mission today but we will seek to be open to God’s future mission and discern our part in that.

How will we do that? Let me suggest the kind of outcomes we might expect from this weekend.

Intended Outcomes of Swanwick 2010

  • An opportunity to celebrate what God has done in the growth of the Church worldwide over the past century, looking at the sweep of 100 momentous years of sharing in God’s mission.
  • An affirmation of the biblical call to mission, through the Bible studies, on the call to mission in each of the gospels.
  • To engage from our starting point (stemming from one of the oldest mission movements of the North) with new voices from the South (specifically Africa and Latin America) – the two keynote addresses.
  • Engagement with some of our contemporary contexts in the ten workshops/ seminars on Saturday afternoon.
  • MWM owes its origin in many ways to Edinburgh 1910 and so this is also a good opportunity to reflect on where we and our partners are today so that our networks will be mobilised and alliances strengthened.
  • Through all we do, including our prayer and worship together, to be open to a renewed vision of God’s purposes for creation in Christ and a renewed spirituality and mission ethos.
  • In our final worship together, a few hours ahead of the historic celebration involving over 1000 delegates in the Assembly Hall in Edinburgh this centenary weekend, we will prayerfully commit to God the witness of the churches in the 21st century.

Edinburgh 1910

The Edinburgh 1910 Missionary Conference was held in the Assembly Hall of the then United Free Church of Scotland. It was composed of predominantly older men from the mainline protestant churches, missionary societies and mission agencies of Europe and North America. There was no-one there from Latin America. There were very few among the 1200 representatives who were not originally of European extraction so the centre of gravity was the North Atlantic.

Edinburgh 2010

By contrast the 2010 Celebration is just one event among many in this centenary year, including the Congress of the Lausanne Movement (predominantly evangelical) in Cape Town in October. It is a gathering with worldwide scope, a reflection of the global Christianity of 2010 in which the centre of gravity has shifted to the South.

Organisers envisioned the Edinburgh 2010 conference as an opportunity for joint celebration of what God has done in the growth of the Church over the last 100 years; repentance for all that has gone wrong in mission; and re-commitment to a new shared vision for the present and future of God’s mission in the world. (World Council of Churches)

A picture of John Mott

John R Mott, an American evangelist, was one of the main organisers and a key figure of the 1910 conference. He called for “The evangelization of the world in this generation”. He also stated,

Now steam and electricity have brought the world together. The Church of God is in the ascendant. She has within her control, the power, the wealth and the learning of the world. She is like a strong and well-appointed army in the presence of the foe … The victory may not be easy, but it is sure.

How have things moved / shifted / changed in the last hundred years?

from 1910 to 2010

  • Christian world and mission field » North and Global South
  • Church centred Mission » God centred Mission – Missio Dei
  • Distinctive denominational mission » Ecumenical cooperation in the field. Formation of united and uniting churches (Partnership in cooperation)
  • Dependent churches and mission agencies from abroad » Self-supporting, self-propagating, self-governing
  • Only mother churches » Majority of churches from the South
  • Evangelism and conversion alone » Holistic mission, including education, development, liberation etc.
  • Mission agencies alone » WCC, Global Christian Forum

Where is the energy in religious mission movements these days?

  • 1910 was dominated by the Institutional Church. Is the energy elsewhere in 2010? What movements do you think are significant? What are the key issues for MWM and our partners?
  • To navigate today’s world for purposes of mission is an exercise that cannot be completed by depending on old maps.
  • What new vision of God’s purposes for creation in Christ do we have?
  • How can our spirituality be renewed and a mission ethos be recovered?
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