Polyphonic Christianity in Action

IMC Centenary Steering Group – Risto (Finland), Michael (Germany), Marina (India), Tito (Peru), Ken (Scotland)

Here in Geneva we have just concluded the International Missionary Council centenary conference. The pandemic conditions forced us into adopting some innovative methods. For me, coming from rather a low-tech base, it was amazing to be transported virtually all over the world in the space of three days, hearing from the 15 study centers spread across all eight WCC regions.

It was also humbling to appreciate what our forebears achieved from a minimal resource base in terms of creating understanding and fostering cooperation on a worldwide basis. Of course, we could also assess their shortcomings as it was evident that they privileged men over women, white over black, rich over poor etc. Too many ended up feeling excluded. Nevertheless there is much to learn from the IMC history about the value of networks that allow the local and the global to intersect in fruitful ways.

Now the study process turns to the future. I had the exciting and challenging task of chairing a concluding panel discussion that sought to discern salient points emerging from the historical study that can be relevant for ecumenical mission in the future. Judging from what I heard from the panel we can expect to hear much more about polyphonic Christianity, relationships, humility, identity, discipleship, spirituality, cultural integrity, cooperation, margins, justice, reconciliation, hospitality, …. the flavour of Jesus and the grace of God.

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