Some 300 global church leaders will be gathering in Manila from 22 to 27 March for a pre-assembly of the World Council of Churches' (WCC) Commission on World Mission and Evangelism - writes Maurice Malanes.
Hosted by the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP), the gathering is expected to update the WCC's mission and evangelism statement, which was written in 1982.
"The Philippines can help take a look at mission and evangelism from the side of the oppressed and not only from the traditional understanding of conversion," National Council of Churches in the Philippines General Secretary Fr Rex Reyes told ENInews.
"We can help take a fresh look at what it means to be a church in a context such as we have." The WCC's mission and evangelism statement, Reyes noted, was written at a time when globalisation, for example, was not a big issue.
"Now a majority of our people are suffering from the results of neoliberal policies and the other tentacles of globalisation," he said.
He said ordinary Filipinos are feeling the impact of rising fuel prices as a result of the country's deregulated policy of the fuel industry.
Leaders of the public transport sector in Manila and other major cities have announced various protest actions, including a transport strike on 15 March, as their way of putting to task the Department of Energy, which they said should be abolished if it remains toothless in controlling oil prices.
Despite promises of better times under a globalised economy, Reyes said, "poverty, landlessness, human rights violations, corruption, high level of migration, and other ills are prevalent."
They are "issues of mission and evangelism-- all within the biblical notion of the proclamation of God's peace and justice," he said.
Reyes said the Philippines, along with other Asians, can help update and enrich a new mission and evangelism statement based on their histories and context as former colonies of the West.
The six-day pre-assembly will welcome WCC General Secretary the Rev Dr Olav Fykse Tveit. It will centre on the theme, 'Together towards Life: Called to live out the Hope in Christ.'
At the end of the gathering, the church leaders are expected to draft a statement that reflects "a renewed understanding and practice of mission and evangelism in changing landscapes," said Dr Rommel Linatoc, NCCP programme head of Christian unity and ecumenical relations, in a statement.
The final draft of the WCC's new affirmation on mission and evangelism will be presented before the next WCC general assembly in Busan, South Korea next year.
[With acknowledgements to ENInews. ENInews, formerly Ecumenical News International, is jointly sponsored by the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Communion of Reformed Churches and the Conference of European Churches.]