Academic journal article International Review of Mission

Churches in Ecumenical Transition: Toward Multicultural Ministry and Mission

Academic journal article International Review of Mission

Churches in Ecumenical Transition: Toward Multicultural Ministry and Mission

Article excerpt

Introductory Remarks

This is a brief introduction to the contribution of the Ecumencial Network for Multiculrural Ministry (ENFORMM) to the new WCC affirmation on mission and evangelism, which was specifically commissioned by CWME in 2009 and will be fed into the new WCC affirmation on mission evangelism.

Recognizing the critical significance of the emerging multicultural and migrant churches to mission and ministry in the twenty-first century, CWME is keen that the new mission statement adequately reflects that important development. Clearly, the ministry and ecclesiology of migrant/multicultural churches are integral to the future mission and existence of the Christian church.

"Cultural diversity as a fact of human existence": This text assumes that cultural diversity is a fact of human societies, and migration is a fact of human existence. Throughout human history, societies have always enjoyed varied degrees of cultural pluralism largely because migration is a natural human predisposition.

Migration is by no means limited to movements from South to North. People movements from South to South and North to South have equal importance and impact. With increased migration come increased cross-cultural encounters and their attendant complexities. The paper highlights the unfortunate but pervasive and widespread misconception that migrants as such constitute the root cause of social tension and problems.

The paper argues that "people movement around the globe (migration) not only calls for refraining the rhetoric on migration, it also calls for refraining the debate on mission."

"Cultural diversity as a fact of Christian communal life--migration-shaped early church": The paper asserts that "the Early Church was not homogeneous. Inclusive multicultural practices have been a distinctive characteristic of Christ's church from its very inception." Similarly, the paper examines the issue of a migration-shaped church and the unam sanctam, exploring how this concept relates to our new reality in mission. It also says under the heading of Multicultural ministry and the ecumenical enterprise that "we are made aware of the need to develop relevant mission and ministry in the context of local multicultural partnerships, taking into account the experiences of locally emerging multicultural churches."

There is a considerable examination of the area of WCC mission statements and emerging migrant/multicultural churches. Key ideas dating back to Tambaram (1) are explored as is the programme on Ecumenical sharing of resources, which is revisited and of which it is said "Churches largely failed to implement the principle of ecumenical sharing and reciprocity in relationships with newly emerged (migrant and multicultural) churches in their own contexts." (2) The changed map of Christianity in Western countries was not taken seriously for a long time. This meant that the "old" churches continued to dominate the Christian scene, sometimes based on the premise that migrant churches presented a fragmented and fluid scene. Although there is some truth to this, it is important to recognize that migrant and multicultural churches do not constitute a temporary expression of church, and that their existence is a natural part of societies that have changed.

"Responses to migration": The paper notes a tendency to problematize the "migrant-foreigner" as the cause of all social ills which plays a key role in the now recurring popular opposition to multiculturalism. The notion of multiculturalism that we subscribe to and which informs

and shapes our multicultural practices entails deep and meaninful inter-social engagement, mutual understanding and respect. It demands systemic racial justice. This understanding of multiculturalism is implicit throughout this paper (particularly in 3.4, paragraphs 1-4), though for obvious reasons the language of multicultural church and ministry is used. …

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