Faith in the City: Fifty Years of the World Council of Churches in a Secularized Western Context: Amsterdam, 1948-1998

By Van Engen, Charles | International Bulletin of Missionary Research, April 2001 | Go to article overview

Faith in the City: Fifty Years of the World Council of Churches in a Secularized Western Context: Amsterdam, 1948-1998


Van Engen, Charles, International Bulletin of Missionary Research


Faith in the City: Fifty Years of the World Council of Churches in a Secularized Western Context: Amsterdam, 1948-1998.

Edited by Martien E. Brinkman and Hugo Vlug. Zoetermeer, Netherlands: Meinema, 1998. Pp. 105. Paperback $7.95.

One of several volumes published as preparatory study material for the Eighth Assembly of the World Council of Churches, held in Harare, Zimbabwe, in December 1998, this volume contains papers presented at the First Harare Preparation Conference held at the Free University in Amsterdam, Netherlands, on September 19, 1998, gathered under the theme "Faith in the City." Chapters are by Martien Brinkman (of the Interuniversity Institute for Missiology and Ecumenics [IIMO]), Ineke Bakker (Council of Churches in the Netherlands), Konrad Raiser (general secretary, WCC), Anton Houtepen (director of the lIMO and professor of ecumenics at Utrecht University), Anton Wessels (professor of musicology at the Vrije Universiteit), Margot Kassmann (general secretary of the German Evangelical Kirchentag), and Nico Gille (Amsterdam Council of Churches).

Both the title of the book and the presentations reflect a double meaning: Is there hope for the inner cities of secularized Western Europe? and, Is there still a faithful community remaining in those cities? Woven in all the presentations one finds the question, "What could be the contribution of the ecumenical movement to the credibility of the Christian faith in the secularized cities of Western Europe?" (Brinkman, p. 9). The chapters contain excellent overviews of the relationship of the older ecumenical churches to the cities of western Europe.

The book left this reviewer with four impressions. First, the presenters voice a deep and appropriate concern over the decline of the older churches in western Europe and their impact in the cities-a matter with immense implications for the future of the World Council of Churches and older forms of ecumenism.

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