8. Mission and unity – ecclesiology and mission


Revd Darrell Jackson, Redcliffe College, UK  (
Ms Kyriaki Avtzi, Churches in Dialogue, Council of European Churches (
Rev. Dr Laszlo Gonda, Debrecen Reformed Theological University, Hungary
and WCC Commission for World Mission and Evangelism (

Aims and objectives

The 1910 Edinburgh Conference is considered the starting point of the contemporary ecumenical movement, due to its insistence on the importance of unity and cooperation in worldwide mission. Today, there is a need to revisit the intimate relationship as well as underlying tensions between a focus on mission and a focus on church unity.

This track has been dealing with various interpretations of the link between ecclesiology and mission in theological and practical terms. Interface with the work on the history of mission and ecumenism in the last century (in particular as to the evaluation of the `integration´ in 1961 of the International Missionary Council and the World Council of Churches) is key for this area.

Key issues and questions

1.  The mission agencies of 1910 preferred to avoid ecclesiological discussion. Why has ecclesiology come to prominence in the contemporary discussion of mission and unity?
2.  In the new landscape of world Christianity, What and where are the new or emerging missionary movements, missional ecclesiologies, and ecumenical missiologies?
3.  Where are the biblical, theological, and contextual resources for a satisfactory discussion of 'mission, unity, and ecclesiology'?
4.  What are the missiological and ecumenical implications of baptism, Eucharist, apostolicity, and ordination?
5.  What are the ecclesiological and ecumenical implications of mission focussed on healing and reconciliation?
6.  Are evangelistic witness and prophetic witness compatible with the search for visible church unity?
7.  What and where are the models of evangelistic witness undertaken ecumenically?
8.  How might the coming century be one in which a journey towards one common commemoration in 2110 is charted and undertaken together by churches and mission agencies?

Group activities and related studies

  • Report of subgroup of the Commission for World Mission and Evangelism of the World Council of Churches Theme 8 'Mission and unity - ecclesiology and mission'.
  • Statement on 'Mission and Unity' for Edinburgh 2010 from Institut Africain des Sciences de la Mission, Kinshasa, RD Congo.
    • Download (MS Word file) in French here
    • Download summary translation in English here
  • The World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC) and the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) are conducting a 3-year  study of the experience of small ecumenical groups in Argentina, Cameroon and the Netherlands. A video impression of their meeting in Buenos Aires in November 2009 is available on our resources page. Further resources are available on the Mission Today webpages here. A final report of the project can be downloaded here.
  • The Andrew F. Walls Centre for the Study of African and Asian Christianity at Liverpool Hope University, UK  conference on 'Christian Unity in Mission and Service', 11-13 June 2010. This event investigated various ecumenical contributions of Christians in Liverpool in the 150 years since the first world missionary conference was held there in 1860. Download further information (MS Word file) here.
  • The Ecumenical Christian Centre, Bangalore, conference on 'Ecumenism of freedom and solidarity' in November 2009. Download a programme here. See a report in our news section here
  • National Council of Churches USA centennial conference, New Orleans, November 2010 marking 100 years of ecumenical cooperation.
  • The Association of Theological Education in Myanmar and the Myanmar Ecumenical Institute (MCC) held a joint seminar on 15-17 July 2010 at the Ecumenical Sharing Center (MCC) in Yangon on the centenary of Edinburgh 2010. The main topic was 'Unity in Mission'. Report of the Myanmar Centenary Seminar
  • Reflection by Rev. Beno A. Enose, Fatimanagar, K.K. District, Tamil Nadu, India on the vision of Bishop Azariah, a delegate at Edinburgh 1910, who envisaged ecumenical unity and Christian leadership in a nation free from caste and other social evils. Download (MS Word file) here
  • Paper submitted by Rev. D. Issac Devadoss, Bishop's College, Kolkata, 'A Historical Survey of Ecumenism in India. Download (MS Word file) here.


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