Academic journal article International Review of Mission

Experience from the Mission to Cuba: Related to Together towards Life

Academic journal article International Review of Mission

Experience from the Mission to Cuba: Related to Together towards Life

Article excerpt

Abstract

The mission that God has given is one of proclamation, liturgy, deaconry, education, and stewardship. This is why it is necessary to develop new models for mission based on national work, where we review our biblical and theological discourse, our ecclesiolog?, the structures that limit our missionary' activity, the models of theological education, our traditions and creation of liturgy, and our conceptual models and practice in ministry. Considering this, the World Council of Churches' document Together towards Life: Mission and Evangelism in Changing Landscapes offers interesting guidelines for teaching and practicing mission, which the author analyses in the ecumenical Cuban context, and in particular in that of the Evangelical Theological Seminary of Matanzas, Cuba.

For this conference in Matanzas, I want to point out that Protestant and Evangelical churches in Cuba, especially those connected to the Evangelical Theological Seminan' of Matanzas, have been very preoccupied with the development of the ethical missionary for the 21st century.

Up until today, many conferences have been held on mission work, but three of the most relevant have been the following. The Protestant churches held a consultation concerning the missionary heritage in Matanzas in 1984. In 1988, the council of churches in Cuba, the United States, and Canada, and various ecumenical movements, held a missiological dialogue in Toronto, Canada, with the theme "Cuba, the United States of America and Canada, United in Mission." If the emphasis of the first meeting was an evaluation of the past, this second event considered the sharing of the present mission, with a perspective toward the future. The third missionary conference was held in 1999. The topic chosen for the debate was "Missionary Ethics for the 21st century." Some of the key aspects included in the final document for this event have served as a guide for the development of mission in Cuba. For example, all missionary work should be centred on the dynamic elements of economy, ecology', and ecumenism. We understand economy as the ordering and administration of strategies that organize processes for producing, accumulating, and distributing materials and spiritual resources that make the creativity and sustainability of life possible. These are altered for the new economic tendencies of globalization and neo-liberal politics within the international environment. Ecology, just like the world economy, highlights vital relationships with respect and cooperation between human beings and nature. Ecumenism should be concerned with the union whose goal is to develop projects for justice, the defense of human rights, and common testimony for the defense of life. The mission God has given is one of proclamation, liturgy, deaconry, education, and stewardship. This is why it is necessary to develop new models for the mission based on national work, where we review our biblical and theological discourse, our ecclesiology, the structures that limit our missionary activity, the models of theological education, our traditions and creation of liturgy, and our conceptual models and practice in ministry.

I am speaking here as a professor from the Evangelical Theological Seminary (ETS), an ecumenical theological institution that collaborates on the training of leaders for churches.

Ecumenical Affirmation on Mission

The phrase from the introduction of the World Council of Churches' (WCC) document "Mission and Evangelism: An Ecumenical Affirmation" has been central to our teaching. In the words of the late theologian David J. Bosch, "In the same way that the church stops being a church if it is not a missionary, theology stops being theology if it loses its missionary character. ... Theology requires a missiological agenda instead of a simple theological agenda for mission." (1) To this we add that theology stops being theology if it loses its ecumenical dimension. …

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