For the first time in 23 years, Christians from around Asia are gathering to reflect on mission in an Asian context. The fourth Asian Mission Conference – the first since the 1994 conference in Seoul, South Korea – got underway today in Yangon, Myanmar. More than 600 people are expected to take part in the conference, under the theme “Journeying Together: Prophetic Witness to the Truth and Light, in Asia”.
The AMC-2017 is organised by the Christian Conference of Asia (CCA), which includes Anglican churches in Korea; Ceylon, Bangladesh, North India, Pakistan, South India, Myanmar, Japan, Hong Kong and Malaysia, as well as Australia and New Zealand; alongside many other Christian denominations and bodies. This year’s conference coincides with CCA’s diamond jubilee, and is hosted by the Myanmar Baptist Convention and the Myanmar Council of Churches.
The CCA was founded in 1957 by the continent’s church leaders, who met in Indonesia to discuss “Our Common Evangelistic Tasks in Asia.”
“While being engaged in its mission and witness, the CCA has journeyed through the past six decades to fulfil its mandates of serving and enriching the churches in Asia”, CCA’s general secretary, Dr Mathews George Chunakara, said. “We ardently pray and sincerely hope that the Asia Mission Conference – 2017 and the diamond jubilee celebrations of the CCA, will facilitate deeper discussions, and will lead to greater dedication and to relevant and meaningful recapturing and re-articulation of our commitment to the mission, the act of the Almighty God.”
In his opening speech, Dr Chunakara highlighted the changed religious context since the previous mission conference in 1994, the World Council of Churches reported. “We are facing a number of pertinent challenges and questions, which this conference will focus on and hopefully help us find answers to”, he said.
“There are competitive forces out there which may undermine the credibility of Christian mission. The Christian Conference of Asia, national councils of churches and members churches throughout Asia must therefore remain strongly rooted in the midst of missions and at the same time continuously reflect on the very nature of Christian mission.”
On Sunday (15 October), some 5,000 invited representatives of Myanmar Churches will join conference delegates in a thanksgiving service and public meeting at the Franc Auditorium in Yangon’s Ahlone Township, to commemorate the diamond jubilee of the CCA. The day has been dubbed “Asia Sunday” and the CCA is urging all its member churches, councils and partners to observe the day “in a most befitting way and to pray especially for the CCA,” Dr Chunakara said.