A Communiqué from the Global South Conference on the Decade of Mission and Networking, July 16 - 21, 2012 at Bangkok, Thailand
...with the theme “Be Transformed by the Renewing of the Mind to Obedience of Faith for Holistic Mission in a Radically Changing Global Landscape” (Rom 12.1f; 2 Tim 4.7).
1. This Conference is a response to the call at the 4th Global South to South Encounter in Singapore April 2010 to gather leaders from Provinces of the Global South and other mission partners, which are unequivocally committed to the apostolic-historic faith for the Global South Conference on Decade of Mission and Networking.
2. We received with thanks a note of greeting from Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who affirmed his support for the work of the Conference.
3. Similarly, we also received with thanks a note of greeting from Elder Fu Xianwei, Chairman of the National Committee of Three Self Patriotic Movement of the Protestant Churches of China. He affirmed his friendship with the Global South Anglican Churches and continual desire for further dialogue and partnership in ministry.
4. More than 100 delegates from provinces in the Global South (comprising Africa, Asia, the Pacific and South America) gathered together in prayer, fellowship and listening to the teaching of the Word. We were also joined by a number of our mission partners from other parts of the Communion and various Mission agencies.
5. We are immensely grateful for the wonderful hospitality and support shown to us by the Anglican Church in Thailand, a deanery in the diocese of Singapore and the Province of Southeast Asia.
6. The Holy Scriptures shaped our thinking on Mission and inspired our collective resolve to action. We found fresh insights from the Book of Romans. We were challenged to see Mission as “calling people from among the nations to the obedience of faith” (Romans 1:5 cf., 15:18, 16:26). Mission is not complete until it leads people to obey the true, living and only-wise God, who in His grace and righteousness (Romans 3-8), has saved humankind for newness of life (Romans 12-16) through Jesus Christ our Lord.
7. For nations to come to the obedience of faith, we as Christians individually and as the Church corporately need ‘consecrated bodies and renewed minds’ (Romans 12:1-3), so that we can share and live out and witness holistically to the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Romans 1:16) in the expanding spheres of community, nation and the world at large. Hence, the choice of the Conference theme so that all of us may be challenged “to offer our sanctified bodies (churches) and renewed minds as living sacrifices” for our Lord’s glory.
8. We took careful note of the radical change in the post-1989 geo-political landscape. The Global South is now a global “Antioch” church, which is multi-cultural and missionary-sending. We noted that the “centre of gravity in world Christianity” has shifted to the Global South.
9. Changing globalised patterns of thinking and action are likely to drive much of the activity in the world. We can expect a resurgence of traditional religious-cultural groups on the one hand, and hardened secularism and materialism on the other. These are the serious challenges that the global church is facing.
10. In the face of these challenges, our greatest need is for discipleship to take root and go deep. The way forward is to equip our churches with an emphasis on discipleship and character formation, marked with “humility, integrity, and simplicity.”
11. Equipping the Global South churches means that the gospel should be contextualised so that it does not have a foreign but a local face and be effective in the local context. Along with this, we should strengthen an orthodox theology on the Church’s role in nation-building. Our commitment is to a strong society marked by the rise of a civil society, political stability, sustainable economy, reduction of poverty, and the eradication of all forms of violence, endemic diseases and corruption.
12. We had an overview on Mission trends. The data presented on the growth of orthodox-evangelical churches in different contexts encouraged the assembly to continue with the work, especially in areas with difficult and hostile conditions. It complemented the two other papers by challenging us to face up to globalisation and cross-culturalism so as to be effective in a “multi-layered” world. We need to strengthen our theological education that it may have a missional dimension. We realised that we need to “pass on” (2 Timothy 2:2) through personal discipleship and the transformation of societies.
13. The Conference also heard from different regions of the Global South as well as from our Mission partners on the issues and challenges facing them.
14. In a globalised world, where local cultures and traditions have been weakened (along with time-tested values), there is a need for holistic discipleship. Therefore, we need to invest in the next generation. We need to start this as early as possible. This will include the environment in which the child or youth grows, including the family, church and school.
15. Much work needs to be done theologically and practically to guide the church in this call of discipleship within each culture. To this end, churches and theological centres need to share resources and to work together. Greater coordination is needed between theologians and theological centres. Much of this theological work is to apply within the context of the church community and her needs.
16. There were intensive discussions on the need for theological and economic empowerment. We are inter-dependent and we need each other. Constructive partnerships are needed to encourage each Province to be increasingly self-reliant. Much of this can happen through the mutual sharing of resources and building up of relationships. Economic and intellectual resources are needed to do the work.
17. In relating to other faiths, we need to engage in meaningful and constructive inter-faith dialogue. While we acknowledge that this could be difficult in some societies, we seek to encourage, help and support churches, both in better understanding our own faith and in facing more radical and political forms of other religions.
18. In the Mission of the Church, we are encouraged by some of the global trends. While we can attempt to project into the future from statistics based on present realities, we need to acknowledge the sovereign work of the Holy Spirit, which is a starting point for faith and courage in spreading the gospel.
19. The nature of the global Anglican Church affords us an opportunity to serve, work and learn together. This is a gift from God to the world, of a church which is globally connected and yet rooted into the local community. Our unity is both a witness and a conduit by which this work and witness flow.
“Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ….to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.” (Romans 16:25-27, ESV)