There was only one black African and 19 Asians among more than 1000 delegates present 100 years ago at the historic World Missionary Conference in Edinburgh.
The demographics of those present in early June for an event to mark the centenary of that conference, will, however, reflect more of where the centre of Christian gravity is heading in the 21st century.
There will be fewer delegates, however, when more than 300 people representing 30 traditions from 60 countries gather in the Scottish capital on 2 June at the start of the five-day 2010 World Missionary Conference.
“The 2010 Conference will be held in the same city and in the same month as the epic-making World Missionary Conference of 1910 which many say witnessed the birth of the ecumenical movement,” Roman Catholic Marist Brother Stephen Smyth told ENInews. “We will remember, celebrate and be inspired by events of 100 years ago and work together for unity.”
Hear 2gether Scotland‘s interview with Stephen Smyth:
The 1910 conference led to the creation of the International Missionary Council in 1921, and inspired other church unity movements, culminating in the official formation in 1948 of the World Council of Churches.
The 2010 gathering will be hosted by New College of the University of Edinburgh with the backing of more than 20 international stakeholders.
They are drawn from Evangelical, Orthodox, Pentecostal, Protestant and Roman Catholic traditions as well as the WCC, whose general secretary, the Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit, is among those who will attend and speak at the conference.
In April, Smyth was seconded by Action of Churches Together in Scotland to help coordinate the arrangements for the conference which Scottish academic, Kenneth Ross, believes could provide a “compelling vision” for Christian missionaries during the 21st century.
• Full story at Ecumenical News International.