Keynote speech on “Ecumenical Perspective of Mission Today” a highlight at CWM’s First All-Staff Meeting of the Year

by CWM Communications Team

Metropolitan Dr Geevarghese Mor Coorilos, the Malankara Jacobite Syriac Orthodox Church, Moderator of Commission on World Mission and Evangelism (CWME) of the World Council of Churches and president of the World Student Christian Federation (WSCF) and a global leader in the ecumenical movement in various capacities, gave a keynote speech on “Ecumenical Perspective of Mission Today” during Council for World Mission (CWM)’s first All-Staff Meeting of the year on 13 January 4:00 P.M Singapore Time. As part of CWM staff development plan, the General Secretary, Rev. Dr Jooseop Keum introduced a bi-monthly All-Staff meeting to equip the staff with various elements including providing them missional reflections by prominent global missiologists and professional training sessions on various skills. In this meeting the global staff of CWM were edified in his lecture by Metropolitan Dr Geevarghese Mor Coorilos, a renowned missiologist. The Bishop of the Syrian Orthodox Church in India underscored two main points – subverting the colonial, imperialistic model of mission, and reimagining mission of God as missio agape (Mission as love).

“Mission is to turn to God, and to turn to God is to turn to the world.” -David Bosch

Firstly, the essence of transforming discipleship is to turn to God. In that process, we turn to the world, to which God has turned in Christ, with the intention of transforming the world by “turning it upside down”. In Acts 17:8-9, Paul and Silas were disciples who were branded as subversive, or rebels. Being a disciple during that time meant to be revolutionary, and their announcing a king of different dispensations was blasphemous to ‘empire’ during that time.

Raising contemporary forms of ‘empire’ – capitalism, xenophobia, militarism, and technological absolutism, Metropolitan Dr Geevarghese Mor Coorilos equated transforming discipleship to confronting and resisting modern empire and its logic and practice. In suggesting a radical paradigm shift in doing mission, he highlighted how “mission from the margins” meant the margins – the oppressed, the Global South and so on – leading mission, rather than “leading mission from the centre”.

Mission from the margins is about the ones and zeroes of the world – the last, least and lost- coming together in solidarity, affirming the world of its value, and leading the discipleship journey from the front, he explained.

“Missio dei must be understood as missio agape”.

In today’s context where the ideology of fear of and hatred towards the ‘other’ is manifested in racism, sexism, exclusivism, fascism, and stigmatisation of people, mission as transforming discipleship has to be understood as “mission of love”, or missio agape. When Jesus gave his disciples a new commandment in John 13:34-35, he said that everyone will know that they are his disciples if they love one another.

The Bishop closed his impactful sermon by sharing about how Mary, a daily wage labourer in India, gave half of all the money she had in response to the appeal for food supplies in the wake of the Kerala floods. She gave not out of abundance, but out of poverty, half of all she had, and this was an example of “spirituality of the poor”, mission from the margins, missio agape, and transforming discipleship.

Following the lecture, it was announced that Mr. Charlie Yee, who has served as Accountant in CWM’s U.K Office for 20 years, has been promoted to the position of Finance Manager. The meeting officially came to a close after Rev Nikotemo Sopepa, Mission Secretary to Pacific prayed for all to “seek blessing and guidance as we prepare for wonderful possibilities of service and total surrender to God”.

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