Rev. Dr Jooseop Keum
Council for World Mission
The quadrennial Assembly of the Council for World Mission (CWM) will take place in Durban, South Africa, from 12-19 June, under the theme “Rise to Life: Together in Transformation.” The 2020 Assembly was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Given the eight-year gap, I hope this Assembly will be a great time of fellowship, worship, study, networking, ‘reading of the signs of the time’ and discerning together the mission of God.
Empire divides and rules, but mission unites and reconciles. Indeed, our world is currently filled with life-threatening forces which are trying to steal and destroy life and peace from the face of the earth. We are witnessing numerous forms of destruction including pandemics, military conflicts, climate crises, and social, political, and economic inequalities.
Such crises create divisions and destabilise communities resulting in the domination and subjugation of the poor and oppressed. These are some of the many problems that challenge our mission of reconciliation through the building of life-flourishing communities in contexts.
Despite these gloomy circumstances, the people of faith still believe in reconciliation instead of division, justice instead of inequality and transformation instead of status quo. As we are approaching our Assembly 2024, how can we spread this news that the power of God’s love is far superior to the power of empire and its allure of riches? How can we witness to God’s life-affirming mission through our assembly?
To begin with, we must have the courage to witness to the hope found in Christ, even in the face of a hopeless world. Our faith in the Cross of Christ, which defeated the forces of death and destruction through the resurrection of life, is the source of our hope for transformation.
We firmly believe that the gospel holds the potential to bring about transformation in the world, metamorphosing personalities, values, social classes, and societies. The gospel of the kingdom of God challenges the world that nurtures hopelessness. Celebrating life in a post-pandemic world means writing eschatological hope into the pages of history.
As a matter of fact, there are numerous stories of hope among our member churches and ecumenical partners. The Council for World Mission’s (CWM) ethos as a “community of churches in mission” has always clearly manifested itself in our communities by their displays of solidarity and resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As disciples, our mission is to spread the message of hope that “God’s Kingdom is coming, and it is already among us”. We aim to achieve this by fostering a high-quality community within CWM, serving as a foretaste of the Reign of God.
Kairos is an ancient Greek word meaning the right or opportune moment, while chronos refers to sequential time. Kairos is the time of divine intervention in the life of God’s people and history. The root of the “crisis” is kairos. God will meet and answer us in our deepest crisis. In Chinese, a crisis (危機) is also an opportunity (機會). Therefore, we need to make the 2024 Assembly a kairos moment so that we can transform the current crisis into an opportunity of mission to “Rise to Life” together!
Through the 2024 Assembly, CWM will strive to foster life-flourishing communities where people can find spaces of belonging and new hope in their life together.
The 2024 Assembly is scheduled to take place in Africa. As such, it is important for the assembly to address the current issues and opportunities facing African churches and communities, including both potential threats and promising opportunities.
The assembly will promote the contribution of the African mission thinking and action, especially “the shift of the centre of gravity of world Christianity” to Africa and Black Theology of Liberation to shaping mission theology and practice into the future. The spirit of African rhythms, music, and art will pervade the environment in which the assembly is held, and in the times of our worship together.
May this Assembly be an opportunity for us to rise to life as a community of churches together towards a transformative mission of God.