Sharing goods is at the heart of Christian mission, says WCC chief

By agency reporter
June 6, 2010

Christian mission is about sharing both spiritual and material goods, the General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, the Rev Dr Olav Fykse Tveit said, preaching in Edinburgh on Sunday 6 June 2010.

“This eucharist service [in which] we are sharing together the gifts of God” reminds us that “the highest wisdom in life is to share”, Tveit told the congregation at Edinburgh's St Mary's Scottish Episcopal (Anglican) Cathedral.

Sharing is what mission “is all about”, Tveit said. “Mission means sharing the gifts that we have received”. Therefore, he emphasised, “it is not possible to share the Gospel without sharing what we have”. However, the main obstacle to sharing is greed, Tveit said, which in Norwegian – his mother tongue – is 'Havesyke', literally: the sickness of having ever more.

Tveit was one of several guest preachers hosted by the city's congregations on the closing day of the 2-6 June Edinburgh 2010 conference. The colourful diversity that characterised the centennial event spread out into the Scottish capital when 25 local parishes welcomed the conference participants for worship. After the services, parishioners had a time of informal sharing over lunch with the preachers and other delegates.

The Edinburgh 2010 conference commemorates the 100th anniversary of the landmark 1910 World Mission Conference which took place in the same city. About 300 delegates plus 100 additional participants from over 60 countries and virtually all Christian traditions are taking part in it.

“We see [greed] everywhere, in all places of the world”, Tveit said in his sermon. Amongst its “ugly examples”, he highlighted the “gap of economic injustice” as a result of the “enormous economic exploitation of the global South” and the “increasing gap between the richest and the poorest in all countries”.

“This is to a large extent something that could and should be addressed as a concern of the mission of the church”, Tveit said. “To witness to Christ is to preach the Gospel of forgiveness of sins, even of greed, and, therefore also to address greed as an obstacle to justice, to peace and therefore an obstacle to being one.”

“If I had been here 100 years ago, I am not sure [...] whether as a Norwegian Lutheran pastor, I would have been invited to communion or to preach in the Episcopal Church”, Tveit said, highlighting the progress made over the last century by the ecumenical movement.

In commemorating the 100th anniversary of the 1910 World Mission Conference, Tveit said, “we have been thanking God for how the ecumenical movement was sparked and inspired by the common commitment to share the Gospel of Christ in the whole world, and how God again gathers disciples of Christ from the whole world in this place”.

The Edinburgh 2010 conference gathers with the theme "Witnessing to Christ today" and is hosted by the School of Divinity at the University of Edinburgh. The WCC supports its organisation, together with partners in the ecumenical movement, within and beyond the fellowship of WCC member churches. It ends on Sunday, 6 June, with a festive celebration at the historic 1910 Assembly Hall.

The WCC General Secretary's sermon, "Rich Towards God", can be read in full here:

The official Edinburgh 2010 website can be found here:


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