When I was at Nile Theological College in Juba recently it was moving to visit the Library. It is almost the only thing that survived the destruction of the College during the civil war. It is therefore a symbol of continuity, carrying the books that have been used by previous generations of students.
It also has a shelf of very new books that caught my eye. There are the 37 volumes of the Regnum Edinburgh 2010 Centenary Series – a prodigious attempt to take account of contemporary thinking about mission. For me this brought to mind many memories.
It took me back twenty years to Edinburgh in 1999. It was the time when the approach of the millennium was much on our minds. Amongst many millennium-themed events John Pobee of Ghana came to Edinburgh to give a public lecture on mission in the next millennium. One thing he impressed upon us was that the upcoming centenary of the Edinburgh 1910 World Missionary Conference would be a unique opportunity to take account of Christ’s call to mission in a new century. This proved to be a prophetic inspiration.
It came to expression in a centenary conference in Edinburgh in 2010 that brought together perhaps a wider representation of world Christianity than had ever previously been assembled. The conference in turn sparked a collaborative study process that brought people from many different contexts and traditions to take account of mission in its many different aspects.
The literary outcome was the 37 volumes published by Regnum in Oxford (http://www.ocms.ac.uk/regnum/list.php?cat=3&mid=543). These are now available on the library shelves of institutions like Nile Theological College as well as being digitally available for free download by students and others.
Thinking mission par excellence. A classic mustard seed story. And a demonstration that Christ’s call to mission continues to challenge the imagination and inspire creative commitment.